Hyperemesis Gravidarum: Symptoms and Treatment

In the early stages of pregnancy, many moms experience morning sickness symptoms like nausea and vomiting. However, when severe and intractable vomiting continues, it becomes known as a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. Let’s take a look the symptoms and treatments, and how it affects your baby.

What are the symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum?

morning sickness, bathroom, woman

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a medical condition, and is different to typical morning sickness. It is diagnosed by characteristic symptoms such as vomiting so severe that the patient can’t keep down any fluids, weight loss of more than 5 kilograms (or more than 10% of pre-pregnancy body weight), the presence of ketone bodies in urine, or 5 or more instances of vomiting per day.

The condition can be classed into three stages of severity according to the mother’s symptoms.

Stage 1

Recurrent vomiting to the point the mother begins to lose weight. As dehydration occurs, this can cause symptoms such as dry mouth, lethargy, dizziness, and constipation. Protein may be present in urine.

Stage 2

Worsening of the symptoms in Stage 1, with protein and ketone bodies present in the urine. Hospitalization may be necessary to deal with a drop in heart rate and blood pressure, or metabolic imbalances.

Stage 3

Neurological symptoms such as dizziness and auditory/visual hallucinations appear, and it becomes difficult to maintain the pregnancy. In some cases, it may be necessary to terminate the pregnancy in the interest of the mother’s health.

If a mother’s morning sickness symptoms are so intense that they need to be treated in hospital, it is classified as severe hyperemesis gravidarum. This is thought to affect around 0.1% to 1.0% of pregnant women.

What are the treatments for hyperemesis gravidarum??


Mild morning sickness doesn’t need medical treatment. However, when a mother is hospitalized for severe hyperemesis gravidarum, she’ll generally be treated with plenty of bed rest. If intense nausea and vomiting are preventing the mother from getting enough liquids, then nutrition and fluids are replenished through an IV infusion to prevent dehydration while the body is gradually re-acclimated to food.

There is no specific treatment for morning sickness, so there is nothing to do but wait until the intense symptoms settle down, while getting plenty of bed rest, following a medical diet, and staying on an IV. The length of the hospital stay varies from person to person – while one mother may be hospitalized for a few days, another could be away for a few months.

How does hyperemesis gravidarum affect my baby?


If you suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum and can hardly eat anything, you might worry that your baby’s not getting enough nutrition. However, because the mother’s body naturally prioritizes the developing fetus’ nutritional needs, it’s not believed to have much of an effect on the baby at all.

You may lose 3 or 4 lbs yourself, but in general, you don’t need to worry about this harming your baby’s development. However, low birth weights have also been observed in some very severe cases of hyperemesis gravidarum, so you’ll need to be vigilant and consult with your physician.

See a doctor if you have symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum


See a doctor if you have symptoms such as recurrent vomiting so bad you can’t keep down water, sudden weight loss, or decreased urination. This could be a sign of dehydration. Sudden dehydration can you and your baby’s health at risk, so get to a hospital as soon as possible.

Get the help you need to fight hyperemesis gravidarum!

i-consulting doctor

More than half of all moms suffer from morning sickness during their pregnancy, but some face a lack of understanding from the people around them. Certain cultures also have a stigma against morning sickness, viewing it as a sign of being spoiled, and so women even blame themselves for their symptoms.

But remember: hyperemesis gravidarum is a serious medical condition. If you try and tough out by ignoring it, your symptoms could worsen, and you could be putting your health and your baby in danger. Trust your instincts and get to a hospital early, so you can get the treatment you need.