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Pregnancy Problems

During pregnancy, your health is number one priority. That’s why we went straight to top pregnancy health experts for all the details you want to know about the most common pregnancy problems. In our pregnancy problems guide, you can read about a slew of pregnancy conditions – everything from hemorrhoids to gestational diabetes. Find out what any pregnancy symptom could possibly mean (are you swollen just because you’re expecting, or is it a sign of some complication?) and find out whether or not it’s worth a call to your OB. If you already know you’ve got a pregnancy complication or health condition, our comprehensive articles will give you the scoop on its causes and how it can affect you and baby. Plus, get treatment tips straight from medical experts and pregnant women like you. Yup, we've got answers to all your questions about pregnancy health problems right here!

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Hyperemesis Gravidarum

You commonly hear about morning sickness, but what if the nausea is so severe, you're finding a hard time coping? Here, signs you could have a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum and what you should do about it.

What is hyperemesis gravidarum?

Just about every pregnant woman knows what it’s like to be nauseated during her nine-month journey (though there are the lucky few who escape morning sickness altogether -- go ahead and secretly hate them). But for some women, morning sickness becomes a severe condition that requires medical attention. Hyperemesis gravidarum is defined as extreme, persistent nausea and vomiting, which can land you in the hospital with dehydration. Symptoms sometimes don’t let up after the first trimester and can stick with you the whole darn pregnancy.

What are the signs of hyperemesis gravidarum?

There’s nausea and then there’s nausea. With hyperemesis gravidarum, the nausea and vomiting are so severe you can become dehydrated and, over time, may even lose some body weight while your baby increases hers. Other signs are extreme fatigue, fainting, headaches, decrease in urination, low blood pressure and rapid heart rate.

Are there any tests for hyperemesis gravidarum?

A physical exam (low blood pressure, high pulse rate) can help clue in your doctor as to whether you’ve crossed the line from morning sickness to hyperemesis gravidarum. In addition, he may run some blood and urine tests to check for signs of dehydration.

How common is hyperemesis gravidarum?

While up to 80 percent of pregnant women develop some level of morning sickness, at least 60,000 cases are severe enough to be considered hyperemesis gravidarum. (Although, since many cases may be unreported, the actual numbers may be even higher.)

How did I get hyperemesis gravidarum?

There’s some evidence that the severe nausea can be blamed on rising levels of the hormone HCB (human chorionic gonadotropoin), but the exact cause of hyperemesis gravidarum is still unknown. Moms who are pregnant with multiples are at increased risk. If you’re having a molar pregnancy, you may also have these symptoms.

How will hyperemesis gravidarum affect my baby?

Luckily, while you might feel like hell, chances are your baby is continuing to grow without any problems. However, if you don’t get enough nutrition or hydration for a significant amount of time, it can affect your baby’s birth weight and development (see next page for treatment, prevention, advice and resources).

-- Christian Hoffman, MD, medical director and chair of the department of obstetrics/gynecology at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton in Hamilton, New Jersey


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