Everything You Need to Know about Hyperemesis Gravidarum


Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is an extreme form of pregnancy nausea and sickness that affects between 1 to 3 in 100 pregnant women in the UK every year. It is characterised by excessive nausea and vomiting in pregnancy - more than you’d usually expect, that is.

Whether you are pregnant for the first time or the fifth, every pregnancy is different, and it can be hard to tell if something is unusual or not right. The fact is that morning sickness is such an accepted part of pregnancy that it can be easy to pass off more extreme versions of it as just “really bad”, but, if you are experiencing any of the following, then you might not have normal morning sickness, and could be suffering from HG, for which you will need to see your GP, obstetrician, or midwife to get access to treatment and support.


  • Vomiting multiple times throughout the day
  • Unrelenting nausea that does not subside
  • Unable to keep down food or fluids
  • More than 5% weight loss
  • Having a heightened sense of smell that exacerbates
    the nausea
  • Experiencing excessive saliva that causes you
    to constantly spit
  • Not being able to pass urine as frequently or at all
  • Dehydrated

You may not experience all these symptoms, or you may not think that it isn't “bad enough” to warrant help, and so our advice is to ask yourself this question:

“Am I able to function as a normal human being, and go about the majority of my day as usual, and manage my symptoms adequately, without needing intervention?”

If the answer is no, then you should talk to your GP, obstetrician, or midwife.

There is no cure for hyperemesis, but early intervention via medication and rehydration treatment is key to managing its severity.

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Some women do experience being dismissed by their doctors and can be told that what they are experiencing is 'normal', or that there is nothing that can be done to help. Do not be turned away and continue to suffer. It is common for women to have to get second and third opinions, and it can be hard to keep fighting for your own care, so if you can, have someone to advocate for you.

There are numerous anti-sickness medications that can be prescribed to pregnant women, and an informed doctor will be able to start you on the 'lowest rung of the ladder' of first-line medications that could help. If they do not, then they should be proactively monitoring you and moving you up the ladder to second-line medications.

In the UK, we have an incredible charity called Pregnancy Sickness Support, which operate a helpline for sufferers, and have lots of information on their website that will be useful. They can also help to advocate for you to advise your doctors on what they can do to help you.

Please do not suffer with HG alone. It is incredibly important to have a community around you, as this condition can take its toll on your mental wellbeing too. 49% of women with HG have been found to suffer with antenatal depression, and 29% may suffer postnatally, so please do join one of the online HG support groups.

If you can, watch the documentary ‘Sick - The Battle Against HG’, which is now available on Prime Video in the UK.

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