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Preparing for Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Although no one can say for sure if hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) will recur with every pregnancy, it very often does. Some women have found that certain strategies and circumstances seem to correlate with less nausea and vomiting. No one knows for sure if there is a link because not all women have HG with every pregnancy, and the severity may vary each time. Sometimes it will only occur with one sex of child, in multiple births, or just in first time mothers. Improved care also affects how sick a woman will become.

Unfortunately, it's estimated among several sources that at least 20%, but more likely 50% or more of women with HG will have it with future pregnancies. No longitudinal studies have been published to date. HER Foundation research finds a very high recurrence rate with similar patterns of duration and severity. Nothing can prevent it, but preparing for HG and getting effective care at the first sign of nausea/vomiting will likely result in an easier pregnancy.

Tips & Strategies

The follow tips and strategies will also help you be as prepared as possible for your pregnancy.

  • Start pregnancy with a clear system by detoxifying your system.
    See a health professional for assistance: www.healthy.netExternal Link
     
  • Expand your diet and try new foods so you have more options to consider when ill.
     
  • As soon as you begin trying to become pregnant, make sure you are at or slightly above (10 lbs) the normal (healthy) weight for your height.
    Estrogen is stored in fat tissue, and estrogen is implicated as one factor that increases nausea, so don't gain too much weight.

  • Have disability insurance to cover loss of time from employment.

  • Have the ability to make a mini kitchen at your bedside (including a small fridge/cooler, microwave, toaster and a basket to hold snack foods).

  • Consider ridding your home of all garlic containing foods (which include most tomato sauces, frozen dinners, flavored snack foods, etc.).

  • Stock up on high calorie/high fat foods as you will need to make the most of every bite. Avoid foods with strong odors.

  • Stock up on laundry, dish detergent and body soap that are odor free.

  • Try to be in relatively good shape, but don't exercise excessively.
     
  • Make sure you are well-rested and not overly stressed when you become pregnant.
     
  • Try to be in the best health possible.
    Eat lots of nutrient dense foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains) and take prenatal vitamins for several months before you become pregnant. This will make sure you have storage of essential vitamins and nutrients for your baby when you are unable to eat. If you have a history of miscarriage, consider adding antioxidants.
     
  • Educate your friends and family about HG and how they can help.

  • Try to plan your next pregnancy at a time that you will have the most family and friends around for support, esp. during the early months.
    This may be summer season when you can hire a teen, or during the holidays when family will be available. Being able to open the windows can be helpful. However, if you live in an area that is very hot, know that the heat can worsen your symptoms.
     
  • Wait until your current children are old enough to be somewhat self-sufficient, etc.

  • Plan your pregnancy if possible during a lower stress time.
    Stress and fatigue aggravate HG. Avoid major changes such as moving, while pregnant.
     
  • Proactively simplify your life as much as you can and try to make sure you have adequate help for your pregnancy.
     
  • Find resources for house cleaning and cooking.
     
  • Stock your kitchen with quick meals for your family and a large variety of snacks. Consider cooking meals ahead and freezing them.
     
  • Clean out your fridge/freezer and begin labeling all foods with the date opened.
     
  • Buy ahead on essentials such as film, personal care products, gifts, school supplies, tissue paper and cleaning products (unscented) to eliminate errands.
     
  • Have a cabinet stocked with "emergency" toys, videos, computer games, books, activities, and necessities (crafts, coloring books, balloons, play-dough, etc.) for your worst days. Also consider children's clubs such as:
  • If HG lasts most or all of pregnancy for you, think ahead to what you will need over the next year such as children's clothes and maternity clothes, etc. Buy in advance to minimize your stress.
     
  • Make sure your stomach is in the best shape possible, esp. if you have a history of ulcers, Helicobacter pylori or other GI/bowel disorders.
    That means avoiding things that irritate your stomach like alcohol, smoking, etc. Eat lots of fruits, esp. bananas, berries and apples, and consider taking nutritional supplements that soothe and heal the stomach such as slippery elm, marshmallow, glutamine, etc.
     
  • Keep an effective antiemetic (anti-nausea medication) on hand if you are trying to get pregnant and take it as soon as you vomit or feel HG hitting.
    Start with the one that helped you in your previous pregnancy. Of course, you will need to discuss this with your practitioner and get a prescription from him/her. (If he/she is uncomfortable with that idea, you might mention that doctors recommend taking pain medicine as soon as the pain starts for maximum relief, and you want to do the same with the nausea.) Be careful with leftover medications, they may be expired.
     
  • If you do not feel your doctor is effective in treating HG, begin your search now and interview potential doctors before you get pregnant.
     
  • Confirm the types of treatment your insurance will cover, including TPN, medications such as Zofran, and home health care.
     
  • Consider seeing a perinatologist or high-risk OB at the first sign of nausea if you have a history of severe HG to avoid a delay in treatment.
     
  • See the dentist for x-rays and a check-up just before you get pregnant.
     
  • Install a water filter to make water healthier and taste better: www.multipure.comExternal Link
     
  • Make phone lists for each room with essential numbers such as family, friends and doctors.

  • Breastfeed.
    One mom said that she had severe morning sickness (not HG) and weight loss with 3 of her 4 pregnancies. The only one she didn't have NVP was when she accidentally became pregnant while breastfeeding. Other women report this had no beneficial effect for them.

Feel free to send your tips to us at webmaster@helpher.org

Updated on: Apr. 18, 2013

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