Although morning sickness affects 75 percent of pregnant women, only 3 percent are affected by a severe form of morning sickness called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). HG is associated with severe dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and significant weight loss. A blog post entitled Woman Has Abortion to Stop Morning Sickness describes Claire Barwell, a mother of two who was pregnant with her third child and decided to terminate the pregnancy because of debilitating nausea and vomiting. She was also estranged from her husband.
Barwell had three hospitalizations before deciding that she could not tolerate the nausea and vomiting. She consulted her estranged husband and together, they decided to terminate the pregnancy. Barwell subsequently remarried a man who did not have children, became pregnant and vomited up to 40 times a day. She terminated the pregnancy again to her new husband’s profound disappointment.
Although HG can be treated, sometimes it is not treated appropriately. Some of the signs and symptoms of HG are as follows:
1. A weight loss of more than 10 pounds in a 2-week period that’s associated with severe vomiting
2. Large amount of ketones which are substances found in the urine that the body makes when it is not receiving enough calories
Often, pregnant women will present to emergency departments with complaints of severe nausea and vomiting, be given intravenous fluids and sent home. This is not appropriate treatment if the patient has ketones in her urine which indicates a state of starvation. It is also important to rule-out other reasons for significant vomiting. Pregnant women with HG need to be hospitalized and given intravenous solutions that include Vitamin B12, multivitamins and special medications to help reduce their vomiting. Barwell was extremely dehydrated, had not eaten in three days, was at risk for tearing her esophagus and was admitted to a hospital for special care that included a feeding tube. Most cases of HG resolve by the second trimester but Barwell couldn’t tolerate the symptoms and terminated the pregnancy. Would you have done the same?
Until next time, remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.