Hey everyone! Welcome back to the Santa Clarita Valley (SCV) Birth Center blog. Today, I wanted to take a moment to discuss a topic that’s been on my mind lately: hyperemesis gravidarum, more commonly just “hyperemesis”. It’s a condition that affects some pregnant women and can be quite challenging to manage. We recently had a client who was experiencing hyperemesis and it reminded me just how important it is to understand the difference between hyperemesis and morning sickness. So let’s dive in!
What is hyperemesis, and is it the same as morning sickness?
Let’s start by clarifying the distinction. Hyperemesis is a condition that can occur during pregnancy that involves severe nausea and vomiting, which often leads to significant weight loss. It can also have a profound impact on a woman’s mental well-being, potentially leading to depression and difficulty functioning in daily life.
On the other hand, morning sickness, while still unpleasant, is not as severe as hyperemesis.
The impact of hyperemesis: severe symptoms and emotional toll
I want to emphasize that the remedies and suggestions commonly given for morning sickness, such as eating saltine crackers or using ginger, may not be effective for those with hyperemesis.
It can be disheartening when well-meaning friends and family offer advice that doesn’t address the severity of hyperemesis. If you’re going through this experience, please know that we hear you, we see you, and we understand the challenges you’re facing.
Seeking proper care and support for hyperemesis
It can be challenging to ask for help when dealing with hyperemesis since not everyone fully comprehends the extent of the sickness. However, it’s crucial to communicate the severity to your healthcare provider or care team.
At our birth center, the SCV’s premier birth center, we make it a priority to ensure that our patients receive the attention and support they need. We offer various options to assist clients, including intravenous (IV) fluids and B6 injections, which can alleviate nausea and provide hydration.
Pharmaceuticals for hyperemesis: exploring the options
In some cases, pharmaceutical assistance may become necessary.
Currently, the most commonly prescribed medication for hyperemesis is Diclegis, which has shown positive results in managing nausea. Zofran used to be prescribed very frequently, but concerns have come up about its early use in pregnancy. However, if Diclegis doesn’t provide relief, Zofran may be considered after weighing the risks and benefits. Additionally, Reglan is another pharmaceutical option available.
Remember, the choice of medication depends on individual circumstances and discussions with healthcare providers. Also, these are the brand names for these top three pharmaceuticals, but the generic versions may be appropriate for your situation, again coming back to having those conversations with your healthcare providers.
If you think you may be experiencing hyperemesis, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your care provider. We can prescribe the appropriate medication or refer you to someone who can help.
Natural remedies and tips for managing hyperemesis and morning sickness
In addition to pharmaceutical options, there are other more natural measures you can take to manage hyperemesis.
Ensuring proper hydration is essential, and if self-hydrating is challenging, consuming electrolytes regularly can be beneficial. Instead of plain water, try hot water with lemon and honey or maple syrup. Adding these to the water can make it easier on your stomach and provide some relief. And then you can either drink it warm or add ice if your body really wants those cold drinks instead.
Adding lemon, honey, and maple syrup to water are great techniques for getting your body the electrolytes it needs, but there are others as well.
You can buy electrolyte powder to add to your water. We sell a great one by Thorne that we stand by. They’re a great company and they make a great electrolyte. But really, you need to be looking for any kind of electrolyte to keep feeding your body. Even just a pinch of Himalayan pink salt and a squeeze of lemon will give you some minerals, but you need to get those minerals in there.
Vitamin B6 supplements can also be very helpful. These can be administered through injections or taken orally, with a recommended dosage of 25 milligrams three times a day, which tends to be really helpful for managing nausea. Supplementing vitamin B12 can also be very helpful, just be aware that B12 dosage is in micrograms (1,000 times less than milligrams).
For those following a vegan diet, we recommend a sublingual B12 supplement, which allows for quick absorption by just going right under the tongue. Sometimes, a sublingual form of Zofran is also available for those who struggle with swallowing pills.
Diet and hydration strategies to nourish your body
For pregnant women dealing with morning sickness, you need to focus on small, frequent meals with an emphasis on protein. It’s not about being hungry necessarily, but eating frequent meals high in protein can help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep your stomach acids low to reduce morning sickness symptoms.
The easiest way to help you remember to eat this often is simply to set an alarm on your phone. When it rings, snack time!
Good examples of easy protein-rich snacks are things like a scoop of nut butter, cheese, and nuts. Vegan options like hummus and seeds work well too.
Essential oils are another tool in your toolkit. DigestZen from doTERRA or Digize from Young Living can really help to provide relief. For DigestZen, you can put it about a drop in a capsule and take that and for Digize, you can apply it topically to the abdomen for relief. However, it’s important to note that essential oils should be used with caution during pregnancy, and it’s best to consult with a qualified aromatherapist or healthcare provider before using them.
And when it comes to any prenatal supplements you might be taking, feel free to push pause on taking those. If taking your supplement exacerbates your symptoms, don’t take it! We would rather have you keep your food down than take your supplement. But if you do choose to stop taking your supplement while your symptoms are more severe, you need to be sure you’re still getting your B6, B12, and methyl folate from your food and other sources.
Emotional support for hyperemesis and morning sickness
Aside from dietary adjustments and natural remedies, emotional support once again is crucial when dealing with hyperemesis and morning sickness. Surrounding yourself with understanding and empathetic individuals to help you through your difficult situation can make a significant difference in your overall well-being. Joining support groups, both online and in-person, can also provide a sense of community and a safe space to share experiences and seek advice from others who have gone through similar challenges.
It’s important to communicate your needs and limitations to your loved ones and employers. Hyperemesis or even severe morning sickness can impact your ability to work or perform daily tasks. Seek accommodations when necessary and remember that your health and the well-being of your baby are top priorities.
Conclusion: how long do morning sickness and hyperemesis last?
It’s going to be difficult to remember when your symptoms are at their worst, but it’s important to always come back to the fact that hyperemesis and severe morning sickness are temporary conditions.
While it may feel overwhelming and endless in the moment, most individuals find relief as their pregnancy progresses. Stay hopeful and remind yourself that this challenging period will eventually come to an end.
If any of you have experiences or tips to share regarding hyperemesis or morning sickness, please feel free to comment below. Let’s continue to support and uplift one another during this journey of pregnancy.
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