Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is an extreme form of pregnancy sickness affecting around 1-2% of pregnancies in the UK. It causes women to vomit excessively and causes relentless and debilitating nausea which leads to dehydration and significant weight loss. In many cases, women experience an improvement in symptoms between 16 and 20 weeks, but for some, they suffer throughout the whole 9 months of their pregnancy.
Unlike the pregnancy sickness that most women experience, HG affects every aspect of a woman’s life, leaving them unable to eat, drink, work or even look after their children. Understandably, it can have a devastating impact on both physical and mental health and requires medical intervention. Whilst it is unclear exactly what causes HG, there are strong genetic links and an increasing variety of medications that can be used in pregnancy to manage vomiting and nausea.
Although pregnancy lasts 9 months, the impact of HG can reach far beyond pregnancy particularly on the emotional wellbeing of sufferers. Women can suffer PTSD, PND and Post Natal Anxiety as a result of their experience and many women make difficult decisions about having subsequent pregnancies based on the risk of HG.