Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Hyperemesis gravidarum: beyond morning sickness

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With Kate Middleton’s recent hospitalization, hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme nausea and vomiting during pregnancy) has been thrust into the spotlight. Coincidentally, I’ve had several friends suffer from it recently as well (supposedly it only affects 1-2% of pregnant women). It’s much more severe than the “normal” morning sickness (which itself is a misnomer as it can occur at any time of day) and often lasts throughout much of the pregnancy.

Frequent vomiting during pregnancy can lead to weight loss, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances. Women who suffer from hyperemesis, and who do not gain as much weight as hoped during pregnancy, are at risk of delivering small infants.

Essentially, women suffering from hyperemesis should consume foods that they best tolerate in an effort to gain a healthy amount of weight. Different foods may be better tolerated, or may trigger nausea, depending on the woman. However, oftentimes starchy foods are best tolerated. Trying to consume energy dense foods that us dietitians would normally be advising people to limit intake of may be beneficial for women suffering from hyperemesis. Things such as dried fruits, nuts and nut butters, granola, crackers, even chips may be good choices for these women. Ginger is a natural anti-nausea agent that may also be helpful.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

5 thoughts on “Hyperemesis gravidarum: beyond morning sickness

  1. I wish the term ‘morning sickness’ would leave the lexicon altogether. I know for me, it was all-day-and-all-night sickness for months. With my last pregnancy, the only food that was appealing in the slightest – and that had a chance of staying down – was tomato sandwiches on white bread (which I never eat). Morning, noon, and night, that’s what I ate for months. And I still had vomiting episodes right until the end of my pregnancy, although I was never dehydrated – thank goodness.

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  2. I am almost 17 seeks pregnant and I’ve been sick since week 5/6! At first I couldn’t eat and I got very sick and somewhat dehydrated, but never to the point of needing IV fluids, thankfully. Later I went thru a period of liking a specific food for only a week at a time. I’d either not be able to tolerate the thought of that food or it would come to make me sick. So now, for the past few weeks, I’ve only been able to eat hamburgers! I am so tired of them, but at the same time, thankful I can eat something without throwingup. I just wish there were some snacks I could eat that made me feel full and were easy to make. Making hamburgers, from scratch, everyday is a pain and I don’t eat them but lunch and dinner b/c I can’t fathom sitting around eating them All Day Lo g! LoL! I’ll be glad when the baby arrives and I can eat whatever I want and drink water again! I miss water so much! Thank God I’m able to drink powerade. :-) Best of luck to anyone suffering from Hyperemesis. Remember, there’s a precious baby in there who will soon join your family and make your lives so full. It’s a difficult road, but it’s worth it in the end. Take care of yourself, surround yourself with loving and caring people, and try to way! active in some type of social circle; chruch, book club, MOPS, etc. It will help you to cope and keep a positive attitude. P.S. I’m finding protein works best and I’ve read a lot of studies showing high protein, low carb, low sugar diets do help hyperemesis suffers….I would hv to agree with it from my own experiences. *Mom to one darling girl and a baby on the way!

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    • Thanks for your comment Amber. It definitely seems that every woman is different regarding what foods she can tolerate during pregnancy and you’re not the only one I’ve spoken to who finds protein much better tolerated than carbs. Best of luck with the remainder of your pregnancy and congratulations!

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  3. this is my daughters second pregancy , she was hospitalized over 13 times with her first and she lost 48 pounds ,she could not eat or drink….this time she is 10 weeks has already lost 28 pounds cannot eat or drink..and please dont tell her to eat a cracker …..IT DOES NOT WORK !!!

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    • I’m sorry to hear that your daughter has been having such difficult pregnancies. Obviously everyone is different and she is suffering from a severe case. My blog is not intended to provide individual medical advice. She should work with her primary healthcare providers to determine a method of obtaining calories and nutrients that will work best for her.

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