Morning Sickness, or HG?

I grew up hearing about "really bad, all day, morning sickness" but never knew it as more than that until late into my first pregnancy. My mom was constantly sick, and I have memories of seeing her as a child in her pregnancies. I guessed that there was a chance that I would get sick too, and when I got pregnant for the first time I quickly found out for myself. Then, people started asking me if I had the same thing that the Princess Kate Middleton had. Never being one to follow the tabloids, it was the first I'd heard of it. Then I talked to my doctor and asked hesitantly if that was what I had. The response, "Oh yeah. You are the poster child, a classic, perfect example of Hyperemesis Gravidarum."

You've seen this before in the blog, but thought I'd put it here to help out again!

So if you're like me, you may be looking for validation of your feelings that what you're going through cannot be morning sickness. That it's not normal. But where is the line? Here's a bit of a general rule that doctors go by...

  • loss of greater than 5% of pre-pregnancy body weight (usually over 10%) The percentage is important because it is possible to lose weight with morning sickness.
  • dehydration and production of ketones (proteins spilling in your urine, indication of starvation.)
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • metabolic imbalances
  • difficulty with daily activities

Before we get into this though, it's important to realize that misery isn't a contest. There is nothing to be gained from trying to see if "my life is harder than yours." However, Hyperemesis Gravidarum is real, and it is different than morning sickness. Someone may have different challenges that makes their morning sickness pregnancy so much more difficult than meets the eye. I've heard somewhere the phrase,
"If all of our troubles hung on a line, 
You'd still pick yours,
And I'd pick mine."

It's stuck with me, and I've taken it to mean that even if we could see all the trials that everyone would have in their lifetime, we wouldn't trade their hardest trials for our hardest trials. Ultimately, it may be the only way to know for sure is with your doctor's diagnosis. (If you're unhappy with your doctor, go here.) We're not doctors, but here is our two bits!

Here's what we said...

I asked women for their input on why they considered themselves to have mild Hyperemesis Gravidarum instead of morning sickness. Here are their thoughts.

"Mine hasn't been deadly. No PICC line or anything like that. However, when my HG started I threw up 20-30 times a day, even with medication. I have been to the ER countless times for fluids due to being dehydrated. There are a lot of women who have it a lot worse than me. I have my days where I can function, but the nausea is ALWAYS there. No matter what. I'm extremely tired, feeling like I'm always fighting a battle. Food isn't safe. Most drinks aren't safe. Weak body. No sleep." -Shelby

"My morning sickness was all day with my previous two, but I could stomach most liquids and foods just throwing up a few times a day. I didn't really know what HG was until my doctor told me what I had, this time around I lost 8kgs (17.6 pounds) in 3wks, I got badly dehydrated and my body started a food aversion, for 3wks I didn't eat, I couldn't stomach water even and I ended up hospitalized, I think that's where the difference was for me. With my first I gained 28kgs (61.7 pounds), with my second I lost 2kgs (4.4 pounds) the day I went into labor, this one I'm 20wks on Saturday and am still under pre-pregnancy weight." -Sky

"My OB said she diagnoses when you have to call in for fluids because of dehydration. If you're not losing weight, then once is probably in the realm of morning sickness. More than one hospital trip and losing a high percentage of your weight is the key to me. I didn't know first pregnancy, but second pregnancy I got a diagnosis and help because of my concerning weight loss. I had lost more than 10% of my body weight by mid pregnancy. She diagnosed me because of the weight loss and fluids trips."-Laura

"I would vomit 20+ times a day, Lost weight, ER visits with IV, Zofran , Phenergan suppositories, Reglan. It lasted into my 3rd trimester. A feeling of a loss of self. Not being able to live your life normally and take care of kids or work."-Stephanie

"For me, HG was so much more than just nausea and vomiting. It was my entire body feeling exhausted from doing nothing, tired and out of breath from just showering or walking across the room. I would just lay in the dark not moving for hours. I would be starving but completely unable to eat. Or knowing that when I took meds for it that I had a very short window where I could eat and drink without getting sick or feeling bad. I would choose food based on how "easy" it would be to throw up. I had no choice. And my HG this time wasn't severe. It was severe with my twins, so I knew it could be worse, but still I was completely unable to do anything for myself or anyone. It was like being trapped inside a depressed eating disordered body and having no choice in it."-Britney

"This pregnancy has been what I considered mild HG. I feel that it's HG rather than morning sickness because I still required IV hydration, a hospital stay and medication. And it affected my daily living and being able to function." -Tricia

"I had morning sickness my first pregnancy. I had a lot of vomiting and nausea for about 7 weeks but could keep down some food and stay hydrated without medication. This pregnancy was so much worse than morning sickness. I couldn't keep anything down at all. A sip of water and I would be vomiting five minutes later. One hospital admission for dehydration and then I was put on Diclegis, which thankfully worked. I was still spending all day in bed and only showering once a week, which took everything out of me. My quality of life suffered. Thankfully it stopped around 20 weeks, but I've started vomiting in the morning again now in my third trimester." -Elizabeth

"I considered mine in the category of HG because I lost 30 pounds very quickly. Nothing was helping. Most days I couldn't even eat or drink anything and when I did I threw it up. I couldn't function, or get out of bed without feeling like absolute death. I also would go days without eating or drinking anything." -Kayla

"I knew when I became dehydrated and had to go to hospital. Morning sickness is feeling nauseous and possibly being sick but still managing to stay hydrated and nibble on snacks. HG is being unable to keep anything down for longer than 30 mins meaning you get dehydrated and lose weight."

"From what I gathered from people giving advice, morning do throw up but you still can eat. And it only lasts for a short time (my sister in law was sick for 3 weeks and asked me how I did it for 7 months). While my case was no where near as bad as some I've seen [on the HG Facebook support group] I still lost 25lbs the first month I was pregnant didn't gain any weight with my daughter until I was 7 months only gained 17 lbs total (which was because I could finally eat and I took advantage of that) I did have days where I didn't throw up but those were also days I didn't eat or drink."-Gesina

"My previous pregnancies have been moderate-severe (hospitalizations, fluids, no response to meds), but this one I'd consider mild-moderate. I've never had a non-HG pregnancy, so I'm not sure what routine morning sickness feels like. I consider this time to be mild HG because without meds, I'd be hospitalized for sure. I can't keep food down without them, and I know I'd be seriously dehydrated. However, since I started meds at my positive test this time, I've been able to keep myself hydrated without IVs and I've gained some weight (about 8-9 pounds at 28 weeks, yay!) instead of losing like my previous pregnancies. I know it's HG and not just regular morning sickness because it REQUIRES meds in order to keep me from being seriously ill, and it doesn't go away at the end of the first trimester."-Sarah

"I think I've had mild/moderate HG. I wasn't hospitalized and I vomited only 4-5 times a day. But It wasn't morning sickness because:
 1. I was feeling bad all day. All the time. No relief. Not even after vomiting. I suffered from constant nausea, gagging, dizziness and headaches.
2. The meds never made me feel well. They did take off the edge though.
3. I couldn't take care of myself. Things like walking, talking, preparing food and getting dressed were very difficult or impossible.
These things are not typical of morning sickness, to the best of my knowledge."-Shira

"Well at first I thought it was just morning sickness and wondered how mothers did it time after time. It wasn't until I was down 15 lbs, passing out and going 3-4 days without holding liquids down that required multiple ER trips that I figured out it wasn't 'just morning sickness'"-Mallory

"I was in denial that I had HG for the longest time. I kept attributing it to morning sickness but as my weight began to decrease and I was being admitted to the hospital I accepted it. I never threw up as much as many of the others but I threw up enough that it physically affected my body and life. I found myself straying away from food because I didn't want to throw it up. At work I was useless but I did everything I could to keep my job." -Katie

"I classify mine as mild HG because it affected my daily living and I lost a lot of weight (as well as being diagnosed by my midwife). I feel like women who have ms can still function. I could not work or care for my kids properly and keep up with housework." -Emily

"I know I have HG because I couldn't keep any food down and when I had an empty stomach I would just dry wretch. 3 Hospital visits for dehydration and lost weight. I consider it mild because I haven't vomited since I started on Zofran 2 and a half weeks ago (though I'm still nauseated most of the time but can function a bit)" -Jo
Although I'm sure most of us would LOVE to have a simple glass of water.

"I start off moderate and with medication and IV therapy I become mild. I still consider myself HG until the end because I still need IV hydration in the third trimester and still vomit even on meds...just less frequently. Oh and the debilitating fatigue! I could barely get off the couch some days." -Anastasia

"I classified mine as mild. I lost quite a bit of weight when I was having my son. I couldn't eat, I couldn't drink, I was vomiting all the time. When that finally stopped I was always nauseated so even though I had stopped vomiting as much, the thought of food turned my stomach. I couldn't study anymore, I couldn't watch after my 2 year old. I couldn't cook and cleaning was an effort. It really stuffed me up. I had morning sickness with my daughter and this was very different." -Melanie

"I'm gonna make a list. I'm very much aware my case is mild. But these make me think I have HG:

1. Spending your day either in bed or on the sofa when not medicated.
2. If medication has stopped making effect, moving, a smell, coughing, brushing teeth... cause violent vomit.
3. Stopped going to places I love because there's a smell I had not noticed before (or I used to like).
4. Lots of smells, loud noises, moving fast, riding in the car, looking at a screen... cause nausea, hyperventilation and a feeling like I'm about to faint.
5. Vomit, though not frequent, is violent enough to cause digestive bleeding, peeing on myself, bursting of face blood vessels, dizziness, choking. Have vomited pure blood and bile.
6. Although I do not need a ton of medication or a big combo (on 12 mg Zofran a day, plus a lot of Pepcid, right now), I depend totally on the medicines to have a semi-normal life at 18 weeks.
7. Severe motion sickness I have never ever had when not pregnant.
8. Horrible stomach pains after eating anything (except one safe food), even drinking when not medicated. Tremendous excess of acid/bile in stomach.
9. Despite painful horrible hunger, my brain decided that food and drink were poisonous and disgusting. Despite the medication there are whole food categories I can't even get near to yet.
10. Loss of 23 pounds in 6-7 weeks. No weight gained the last 3 weeks.
11. Dehydration: dark orange urine, tiny quantities; dry cracked skin and lips; dry eyes and flat veins; some lack of electrolytes and some protein in urine.
12. Exhaustion, lack of concentration, feelings of depression and inadequacy, weakness.
13. OB diagnosis.
14. Sleep issues caused by nausea." -Mireia

Before you go...

Whether you have morning sickness or Hyperemesis Gravidarum we can all agree; pregnancy isn't glamorous on anyone! I hope that you get some help, support and relief in this difficult time. Until then, enjoy these memes that we can all relate to.



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