by Alan Greene, MD, FAAP
Hyperemesis feels like it will go on forever. For most affected women, it begins between weeks 4 and 10 of the pregnancy, and the first hospitalization usually occurs somewhere between weeks 8 and 12.
Good news: most women, even those with severe hyperemesis, will get better at around 20 weeks. Now that you are able to eat enough to maintain weight, you may be starting to turn the corner.
For some women, though, the hyperemesis does continue later in the pregnancy. Even then, normal breastfeeding is usually fine. During the months that you breastfeed, you will need to take in an extra 500 calories a day to produce the best milk for you baby. A prenatal vitamin is usually wise.
In the meantime, it is a significant situation, not to be taken lightly. The main issues are proper diagnosis (when vomiting occurs during pregnancy, people assume it is pregnancy-related -- not always!), and proper fluid, electrolyte, and nutrient support. If the hyperemesis does continue beyond 20 weeks, you might want to consider talking with your doctor about trying some additional treatments. In good scientific trials, ginger has been shown to have a beneficial effect. The results are equivocal on vitamin B6 as treatment, and not impressive for acupressure. Hypnosis, though, has been reported to completely stop vomiting in up to 88 percent of women with hyperemesis, after only 1 to 3 sessions.
Dr. Alan Greene, author of Raising Baby Green and Feeding Baby Greene, is the founder of Dr.Greene.com and the WhiteOut Movement. He is a frequent guest on such shows as Good Morning America, The Today Show, and the Dr. Oz Show. He is on the Board of Directors of Healthy Child Healthy World and The Lunchbox Project. Dr. Greene is a practicing pediatrician at Stanford University's Packard Children's Hospital.
Copyright © Greene Ink, Inc., all rights reserved. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org. Reviewed August 24, 2008.