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Have you heard of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)?

  • HG is a severe type of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy
  • Persistent vomiting often leads to dizziness, dehydration, and weight loss
  • This severe nausea is believed to be caused by a rise in hormone levels, but the absolute
  • cause is still unknown
  • Symptoms often appear between weeks 4-6 in pregnancy
  • Symptoms may peak between weeks 9-13
  • This condition can require hospitalization and treatment with IV fluids and anti-nausea
  • medications

The good news?

If you are struggling with this condition most women see relief between 14-20 weeks of pregnancy. However, some women require care throughout their entire pregnancy.

The difference between Hyperemesis Gravidarum and Morning Sickness:

Some key differences:

Morning Sickness:

  • Nausea sometimes accompanied by vomiting
  • Vomiting that does not cause severe dehydration
  •  Most food and drink can be kept down

Hyperemesis Gravidarum:

  • Nausea accompanied by severe vomiting
  • Vomiting that causes severe dehydration and weight loss
  • Vomiting that doesn’t allow for food and drink to be kept down

My personal story

Just about three years into marriage my husband, Bobby, and I knew we were ready to start a little family of our own. We tried for a few months and were really blessed with how quickly it happened for us. A few days after those positive pregnancy tests was when my Hyperemesis Gravidarum symptoms began.

I found out I was pregnant at 5 weeks and scheduled my first OB appointment around 6 weeks. At this point I was nauseas all day long and vomiting pretty much everything I was eating and drinking. Since it was still very early on, I assumed this was just typical morning sickness, as I had never heard of Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

Everything about HG is hard but one of the hardest things for me was not having an OB who sympathized with me and what I was going through. The nausea increased to the point where I couldn’t get myself out of bed. As the days went on, the vomiting didn’t let up. I was throwing up everything I ate or drank until I was throwing up stomach bile. Since this took place during the Covid-19 pandemic, I met virtually with my OB, who brushed off my symptoms saying I “needed to be eating crackers and ginger”. That “pregnancy is not fun” and that I “need to get up and moving and not lay around.” I was absolutely devastated. I would lay in bed crying, praying, and wishing for some relief. I would cry to my husband that I was the worst mom. That this tiny baby couldn’t possibly survive when I was barely surviving myself. I couldn’t even stand up to get myself to the bathroom on my own because I was too unsteady on my feet. I relied on Bobby for everything. I couldn’t do basic things like shower or brush my hair. The nausea and vomiting were relentless. At this point Bobby had to step in -- I couldn’t think straight, I was so sick. The best decisions we made were contacting Dr. Andy DeMarco, Connected Health’s Concierge Primary Care Physician, and a family friend OBGYN from my hometown. Both physicians were able to offer advice, and suggestions for medication that could potentially combat the nausea. Another great decision we made was switching OB’s. My current OB is amazing and diagnosed me with HG right away. Her level of concern for me and my baby was such a welcomed change to my previous doctor. For anyone going through something like this, please know you always have a choice. If you are not happy with the level of care you are receiving, let it be known and make a change. Do what you feel in your gut is best for you and, if pregnant, the little one inside your belly.

Bobby was in daily communication with Dr. DeMarco and his nurse, Carla. After going days of throwing up 10 plus times, not keeping any food or liquid down, and weight loss, Dr. DeMarco wanted me to come in for IV fluid ASAP. I truly believe that having access to a Concierge Doctor not only saved my life but also my babies. I had a private room where I went for multiple IV treatments each week. Bobby was able to sit in the room with me and work remotely while the IV fluids and anti-nausea medications were administered. This all took place during the pandemic and, looking back, I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be admitted weekly to the hospital vs. Connected Health. Having medical staff so dedicated to my care is one of the many benefits of concierge medicine. As a concierge primary care patient, you pay an annual fee which covers all future well and sick visits. All of my IV sessions and time spent with the doctor were covered. No co-pays, no insurance, just really amazing, proactive medical care. As the weeks went on, I continued my IV treatments. I was consistently coming into the Connected Health office about 3 times a week for fluid. It was an endless cycle of vomiting, IV’s, a few hours of relief, and then repeating. One of the unseen symptoms of HG is the depression and the mental toll it takes on you, not only physically, but emotionally. I had the best partner and support system of family, friends, and medical staff who helped me stay positive – but I know for so many moms out there struggling, this isn’t the case. Check on your pregnant friends regardless of if they are sick or not. This is a long, emotional journey and just a simple message saying you’re thinking about them can make all the difference.

“A large majority (82.8%) reported that HG caused negative psychosocial changes, consisting of (1) socioeconomic changes, for example job loss or difficulties, (2) attitude changes including fear regarding future pregnancies and (3) psychiatric sequelae, for example, feelings of depression and anxiety, which for some continued postpartum. Women who reported that their health-care provider was uncaring or unaware of the severity of their symptoms were nearly twice as likely to report these psychiatric sequelae.” HER Foundation.

After continuing this cyclical journey until roughly 17 weeks, I was met with some relief. I was nervous to do anything for a while that involved leaving my bed, but I slowly became stronger. My body had been unused for so long that I would get out of breath just walking to the kitchen. Bobby helped me slowly work my way up to taking short walks down our street. I was getting stronger each day. The nausea would come back and there were the occasional times still where I was vomiting but this was mostly in the morning when I first woke up. I was able to combat that with some medicine and making sure I ate breakfast as soon as I got out of bed. As I type this, looking at my sleeping 8-month-old baby boy, I’m overwhelmed with emotion. Those early days of pregnancy now seem like a blur. I am so proud of my body and my sweet baby boy for fighting and staying strong – he is my world. I am thankful for my husband who showed me so much love and support. He saw me on my worst days and was my rock the entire time. He built me up and made me feel beautiful when I know I was anything but. I am thankful for Connected Health, Dr. DeMarco and Nurse Carla, who spent countless hours administering IV’s, making calls to specialists for advice, and keeping my spirits up when I didn’t think I would make it through another day.

I am thankful for Betty Rich (Connected Health’s CEO) and Diane Brant (my Connected Health boss) who allowed me to “work” remotely and continue making a paycheck to support my growing family. Who welcomed me back after months of being away with excitement and nothing but love for me and my baby boy.

For anyone who needs support, please visit the HER Foundation. The global voice for HG awareness support and research. “Each year, millions of women with HG across the globe experience trauma, financial strain, debility and/or incredible misery due to the severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (Hyperemesis or HG) HER Foundation empowers those managing HG with information and support to minimize suffering, long-term health complications, and pregnancy loss.”