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Hyperemesis Gravidarum (Excessive Sickness in Pregnancy)

24 January 2012 8 Comments

Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or excessive sickness in pregnancy, is a debilitating and potentially dangerous condition which affects about 0.3% of women in pregnancy. Multiple Mummy Kerry shares her first hand experience in this latest Parent Panel post.

I suffered from morning sickness for the first 16 weeks of my first pregnancy. It was horrid, but I still managed to work, and eating helped. I lived on bran flakes and went through boxes of them. Every week that passed, people would comment and say ‘it will stop in a few days’ but it seemed to go on forever. At 16 weeks, it was like a switch. It just stopped, no more sickness; but it had been enough to put me off pregnancy for a while.

So imagine my horror when six months after giving birth to Noah I discovered I was pregnant again. Honestly, New Year and alcohol are a potent combination: let this be a warning to you!

I had a feeling I might be pregnant and I knew I was late, but I had taken two tests and both had said negative.

So I carried on regardless, with my husband saying ‘See told you, you were being ridiculous!’

A week later I bought another test in town and low and behold it said pregnant! I immediately felt sick. I kid you not; I thought I was going to throw up there and then. ‘It’s all psychological’ I thought to myself, ‘get a grip’!

Since then I have since discovered that it is common to get a false negative with a twin pregnancy, as your hormone levels are so high.

I was already 8 weeks into my pregnancy and the sickness came on thick and fast. I tried to eat to make it better but it all came back up. I tried sickness bands, I tired ginger biscuits and tea and every possible remedy under the sun. I knew my sickness was bad but I kept telling myself to pull myself together. For goodness sake I was pregnant, not ill!

It started at first just in the mornings. Then it continued all through the day and then crept into the evenings. I was working four days week at that point and thank God I had an office coming off my classroom, because I would never have made it to the toilets. There was never a point throughout the day when I did not feel sick and I was being sick at least 10 times a day.

After three weeks of severe sickness and working I needed a day off to rest. I had been sick seven times that morning and it was only 7am!

I finally went to the Doctors who prescribed me anti sickness tablets. I was really apprehensive about taking them, but I could not look after the child I had and I was desperate. However, they just wiped me out and within minutes I would throw them back up again anyway. Being asleep would have been fine but I had another child to care for.

The sickness did not relent, it just got worse. I started to be sick in the night. I was beginning to feel like I was allergic to the baby and I was only 10 weeks pregnant. I was starting to resent it and wish it would just go away.

My Doctor signed me off work and I discovered that this severe sickness has a name: Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which literally means excessive vomiting in pregnancy. They wanted to admit me to hospital but I said no, I didn’t want to leave Noah behind; he was still a baby and I had never left him before. I was washed out and malnourished, and my weight was beginning to plummet.

I was now coming up to twelve weeks pregnant and I weighed two stones lighter than I did before I fell pregnant. I was sitting on the sofa at home with a bucket beside me when I got a call from the Doctor’s Surgery. The Doctor told me he had a very worried husband in his office and he needed to see me now!

I hardly had the strength to walk round there. When I arrived he took one look at me and said ‘You’re going to hospital, you need to be on a drip!’

I was devastated. I didn’t want to leave Noah but he assured me it would be for 12 hours and then I would feel well again. The thought of feeling well won me over.

When I got there though, they told me my ‘ketones’ were very high. If ketones are detected in your urine it means your body is breaking down fat rather than glucose to make energy (ketosis). It basically means you are starving. I looked awful- not white, but grey. Have you read Breaking Dawn from the Twilight saga or seen the recent film? How Bella felt pregnant…that was me, and actually, according to my friends, I looked worse! I should have tried drinking blood!

So a drip went up and there I stayed for not 12 hours but five days. They managed to reduce the ketones and get anti-sickness medication in me intravenously so I would not throw it up and the sickness slowed.

I had my scan whilst in hospital and the midwives kept saying, ‘Oh excessive sickness, it’s a sign of twins you know?’ I didn’t take it seriously, until the scan whilst I was in hospital revealed two little heartbeats!

The sickness kept going and going but after being discharged I was able to manage it with anti sickness tablets and keep some food down. It did not stop until 17 weeks but it felt like the longest 17 weeks of my life. Again it was like a light switch and just stopped with no rhyme or reason.

I have to say it was the most difficult bit of pregnancy for me and it took me weeks to regain full health and by that point with the growing twins inside me I was starting to just get huge. I feel I really missed out on the ‘blooming’ stage of this pregnancy.

They say sickness gets worse with every pregnancy you have. The thought of it over again fills me with dread but crazily I still want one more…am I a glutton for punishment?


  • Wooly said:

    I had hyper Emersis with both my pregnancies. It is debilitating. Both lasted until 20 weeks. Second time round l asked to be put on a drip because l didn’t want to get worse. My best friend also had it so we knew what to do. It was worth it in the end but it is very difficult to manage it when you have a toddler to look after. We are thinking of having baby number three!!!

  • Anne (author) said:

    Thank you for leaving a comment. HG is really hard to live with, especially when you are working or have other children to look after, but it’s always worth it in the end. Good luck with baby No3 xx

  • TalesofaTwinMum said:

    Sounds awful and I have every sympathy. With my twin pregnancy I was being sick 15+ times a day and could only keep ice cubes and dry crackers down. I lost a stone in the first few weeks. Unfortunately for me my midwife and Dr told me it was normal to be very sick and they didn’t take it seriously. And as I was so ill I didn’t feel strong enough to push it to make them realise, so I just put up with it. Thankfully around 12 weeks it eased, and by 15 weeks I was fine again. Nobody told me that severe sickness was a sign of twins! I nearly died when I had the 12 week scan and all became clear. It’s awful while you’re going through it but you get over it and the result is well worth it in the end. xx

  • Anne (author) said:

    So sorry to hear about your terrible sickness, it’s awful how often HG goes unrecognised or undiagnosed, often because mums themselves have never heard of it. Hopefully Kerry’s post will help spread much needed awareness. Thanks for commenting xx

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