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Coping with hyperemesis

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Did you know?

Hyperemesis is unlikely to cause harm to your baby. However, if it causes weight loss during pregnancy there is an increased risk that your baby may be born smaller than expected.

Very few mums-to-be get away without nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. In certain cases, some women even experience severe morning sickness, also known as hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition that can require hospitalisation. Here are the signs to look out for if you’re concerned you might be experiencing it, as well as a first-hand account from a hyperemesis sufferer.

What are the symptoms?

  • Feeling sick all the time
  • Can't keep food down
  • Constant nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Low blood pressure

Symptoms can sometimes lead to further complications such as depression.

Coping with hyperemesis

Donna, a nurse by profession and mum to William and Thomas, tells us what it feels like to suffer from hyperemesis, and gives her top tips on how to cope with it.

What does hyperemesis feel like?

"Aside from the lucky few who get away without a single symptom, the first trimester leaves most of us feeling like we have a permanent hangover – the only difference being the distinct lack of strawberry margaritas the night before. An insatiable hunger, nausea and lethargy are all normal pregnancy symptoms, but what if the nausea and vomiting is so severe you can’t even keep a drink of water down, let alone food or the vitamins you so desperately feel you need?" Donna asks.


“As a sufferer from hyperemesis through both my pregnancies, I can tell you it’s both debilitating and exhausting. At first I was reluctant to take medication but eventually reached a point at which I could not function. Having been in and out of hospital for intravenous fluids I had limited options but to give it a try. It took a bit of time and jiggling of medications to find the right combination but at 34 weeks, although I still suffered with nausea, the vomiting was largely controlled as long as I steered clear of dairy products. I am beginning to feel more human and am once again enjoying spending time with my toddler.”

Read more stories from hyperemesis sufferers

Donna's top tips

  • If you can’t eat, drink little and often and graze on what you fancy
  • Try ice lollies, I found these to be amazing in the early days              
  • Remember it’s an illness. It can be difficult to explain to those around you and to understand for yourself that it’s not a normal pregnancy scenario
  • Seek medical advice. It’s much more dangerous to become dehydrated than to take anti-sickness medication
  • Reduce exertion and accept help. The more tired you are, the sicker you’ll feel
  • Remember it’s short lived. As horrendous as you may feel, rest assured at some point it will end and you will be rewarded with the most precious gift!

How is hyperemesis treated?

You may be admitted to hospital so doctors can assess your condition. Treatment methods can include intravenous therapy to restore the chemical balance in the body and antiemetic drug treatment to control nausea and vomiting.

Hyperemesis survival kit