Pregnancy comes with its fair share of struggles — lack of sleep, weight gain, swelling (and the list goes on), but for many moms morning sickness can be the most brutal of all. If you’ve ever had morning sickness, you know that the nausea is one of the hardest feelings to deal with because there isn’t really a quick remedy of relief for it. But if you have been dealing with morning sickness to the point where it is interfering with your nutrition intake, you may be concerned. When is your morning sickness too severe, and when should you call your doctor about it?
To find out what constitutes extreme morning sickness, Romper reached out to Michael Nageotte, M.D., Associate Chief Medical Officer at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Long Beach, California who says that if your morning sickness involves severe nausea and vomiting that are contributing to weight loss, dehydration, or electrolyte abnormalities, or if you are unable to tolerate anything orally for several days or weeks, you may have “hyperemesis gravidarum.”
When the symptoms of normal morning sickness (which can actually happen at any time of the day in pregnancy) become more severe, it is diagnosed as hyperemesis gravidarum, explains Gerardo Bustillo, M.D., an OB-GYN and Medical Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. He tells Romper that women with hyperemesis gravidarum vomit every day, and often many times a day, leading to weight loss and dehydration. If you have hyperemesis gravidarum, Bustillo says you may feel dizzy, urinate less often than usual, and have dark yellow urine. “Hyperemesis gravidarum can result in dangerous electrolyte imbalances and often requires hospitalization for successful treatment,” he explains.
But hospitalization may be needed to address the other aspects of severe morning sickness too. “Simply stated, if the patient experiences dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities or significant weight loss, it becomes dangerous and may result in hospitalization,” says Nageotte, “and this is best managed on a case-by-case fashion with your obstetrician.” Because every pregnancy is different, not everyone with severe morning sickness will require hospitalization, but you should still talk to your doctor about the right treatment plan for you.
Along with dehydration and the inability to take in adequate fluids, other symptoms of severe morning sickness can include significant headaches or abdominal pain, notes Michael Haydon, M.D., Medical Director of Obstetrics and Perinatology & Maternal Fetal Medicine at Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California. As if the nausea and vomiting weren’t enough, right?
Basically, if your morning sickness is getting in the way of your eating, drinking, and overall health for more than a few days, it may be too severe. Birth and postpartum doula Liza Maltz, founder of Birth Your Own Way, tells Romper that if you have been vomiting well past your first trimester, vomiting daily, or have extreme nausea to the point you cannot eat or stay hydrated, you should speak to your OBGYN or midwife, because you may need IV hydration or medications. She warns however, if you have been vomiting for more than 24 hours, you should head straight to the emergency room.
Maltz says she suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum during her pregnancy, and she found that ginger drinks, upping the protein in her diet, and eating smaller, more frequent meals helped. Luckily, pregnancy doesn't last forever, so it's not long before you have your baby in your arms, with morning sickness in your rear view mirror.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.