Morning Sickness Vs. Hyperemesis Gravidarum — What You Need To Know

by | July 7, 2020

What Is Morning Sickness In Pregnancy?

Morning sickness is the common term for the nausea and vomiting that many people experience during pregnancy. Symptoms of morning sickness affect over 80 percent of pregnant people in the first trimester, so if you’re experiencing it, you are not alone. While morning sickness itself is usually not serious, the symptoms can be difficult to handle. 

Many have pointed out that the term “morning sickness” is actually a misnomer for the condition, as people who experience morning sickness can be sick throughout the entire day, not just in the morning.

If you are experiencing severe morning sickness, you may have Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), a serious condition that intensifies the symptoms of morning sickness to an extreme. The severe nausea and vomiting induced by HG can lead to complications that can affect your pregnancy. Only about three percent of pregnant people experience HG, but if you suspect that you might have HG, you should speak to your doctor about it immediately, as it needs to be medically diagnosed and managed. 

What Causes Morning Sickness?

Doctors still don’t know the exact cause of morning sickness. Some researchers have pinned the blame on elevated hormone levels during pregnancy. Newer studies have begun to look at the role that genetics might play in causing morning sickness, too.

Although scientists don’t yet know how hormones and genetics contribute to morning sickness and HG during pregnancy, they do know a lot about the consequences that these conditions can create, as well as ways that both can be treated.

Morning sickness can hit at any time of day.
“Morning sickness” can hit at any time, not just the morning.

What Are The Consequences Of Morning Sickness & Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

Neither morning sickness nor HG will directly affect your baby’s health or your own, but the symptoms of these conditions can impact your pregnancy. Excessive nausea and vomiting can lead to malnourishment, dehydration, weight loss, and more. In their article “Treatment of Hyperemesis Gravidarum,” Lindsey J Wegrzyniak, DO and her colleagues state that “hyperemesis itself is not a risk factor for adverse outcomes, but these outcomes are the consequence of the low weight gain associated with hyperemesis.” 

People experiencing severe morning sickness or HG are at risk of losing over 5% of their body weight during the first trimester of pregnancy. Extreme vomiting from HG can directly lead to vitamin deficiencies, blood clotting, homeostasis, electrolyte imbalances, problems with kidney function, and more. These symptoms, combined with malnourishment and dehydration, can contribute to problems with your baby’s birth, including “low birth weight, antepartum hemorrhage, preterm delivery, and an association with fetal anomalies.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum may cause further complications in pregnancy
( Emilia Ungur)

How Can Morning Sickness & Hyperemesis Gravidarum Be Treated?

The consequences of morning sickness and HG in pregnancy can be scary and the symptoms are often unpleasant, but there are many types of treatment available. Holistic treatment options include eating whole and anti-inflammatory foods as well as making lifestyle changes to avoid stress. 

Gentle yoga and meditation can be great ways to reduce stress during pregnancy. You can also avoid stress by learning to say “no” to extra commitments and ensuring that you have plenty of time to rest during your pregnancy. 

In addition to these holistic remedies, there are many ways that your doctor can help ease the symptoms of morning sickness and HG, including administering IVs or prescribing medicine and steroids. Researchers are also exploring ways that other treatments, like acupuncture and hypnosis, may help treat both conditions.

Which Foods Can Help Prevent & Handle Nausea?

Eating a diet centered around whole plant foods may help to control morning sickness and HG. Keeping your body nourished is crucial in preventing the adverse symptoms of extreme morning sickness. You want to eat as many nourishing whole foods as possible, and the following foods may help to ease and prevent nausea and vomiting during your pregnancy.

Ginger & Turmeric

Anti-inflammatory power foods like ginger and turmeric root can help to ease the symptoms of morning sickness. Studies have shown that ginger is a highly effective way to treat the nausea that comes with morning sickness and HG. Fresh ginger contains gingerol, an anti-inflammatory compound that can help calm the stomach and ease these pregnancy symptoms.

Try adding some fresh ginger or turmeric to a smoothie, into a soup or broth, or to a simple stir fry. If you don’t have access to fresh roots, you can also use ground ginger and turmeric to help prevent nausea. Feeling too nauseous to eat? Slice some ginger root and boil it in water for an hour on the stove. This will create a ginger tea that will help settle your stomach. 

Anti-inflammatory foods help to calm the stomach
Turmeric helps ease inflammation and settles the stomach.

Non-Acidic Fruits

Non-acidic fruits like apples and bananas are easier to digest than more acidic fruits like pineapple. Non-acidic fruits provide many of the vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to replenish when experiencing symptoms of morning sickness. The nutrients in fruit can give you a burst of energy that can help you feel better during pregnancy, and the fiber found in fruit can help you to keep food down.

Not sure what fruit to eat? Try blueberries, dates, pears, grapes, or watermelon. You can eat these fruits on their own or try blending them into a smoothie; cold foods can also help you to combat nausea.

Vegan Protein

Protein rich foods like nuts, tofu, and legumes can help keep your system full of nutrients, even when you’re feeling sick. Protein helps you digest food, so making sure you get enough could help you take in more of the nutrients that you are consuming. This can help your body to avoid some of the negative effects of morning sickness and HG.

Try eating your favorite nut butter on toast, simple beans, or baked tofu to give your body a boost of plant-based protein. 

Beans and lentils are excellent sources of vegan protein
Beans and lentils are excellent sources of vegan protein


If you’re feeling like you can’t keep anything down during your pregnancy, mint may help to relieve your nausea. Mint contains menthol which can relax your stomach and ease the pain that you feel while nauseous.

If you have access to fresh mint, try chewing on a few leaves or adding them to a dish or smoothie. You can boil mint leaves to create tea, or you can buy mint tea to drink. However, “If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you should avoid the mint.”

Carbonated Water

Early studies on carbonated mineral water have shown that the beverage can be effective in relieving stomach pains caused by nausea and constipation. There are hundreds of flavored carbonated waters on the market, so try something that sounds appealing to you. Not a fan of carbonated water? Try sipping on some naturally sweetened ginger ale instead.

One of the best things you can do for yourself during your pregnancy is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and hydrating teas. Drinking flat or carbonated water will help to prevent dehydration and can help settle your stomach, too.

Eating well and staying hydrated can help you to avoid the pains of morning sickness, but you should also try to avoid foods that trigger nausea. Think about the foods that typically make you feel less than good, and try to leave them out of your diet for a bit. Excess oil, fat, and sugar can be major culprits for creating stomach pains. Other foods that you’ll probably want to avoid are overly sweet, spicy, or greasy dishes and foods with strong odors. Listen to your body; if it’s unhealthy or hard to stomach, it’s smart to just stay away.

What Can A Doctor Do To Help?

Home remedies can be effective for combating the symptoms of morning sickness, but they don’t work for everyone. If you’ve tried preventing stress and have changed your eating habits with no results, it’s time to talk to your doctor. 

Seek medical attention if you think you may have HG
Seek medical attention if you think you may have HG

Your doctor will be able to help you determine whether you have morning sickness or HG. They can also give you medicine to help ease nausea and vomiting. 

Your doctor may give you antiemetics, drugs used to control nausea, to help with severe morning sickness or HG. However, antiemetics “should not be used before 12 to 14 weeks of gestation due to possible detrimental effects to the developing fetus.” In addition to prescribing drugs, your doctor may give you an IV or thiamine to help ward off nausea and vomiting. 

If you have severe HG, your doctor may recommend Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) as an option to combat the side effects of nausea and vomiting. TPN “is a nonprotein calorie source, usually glucose or lipid emulsions, that provides utilizable nitrogen, electrolytes, trace elements, water, and fat-soluble vitamins. This source of calories prevents ketosis, which develops from fatty acid metabolism and may have adverse effects on the fetus.” TPN can help to ensure that you and your baby are getting enough nutrients.

Listen To Your Body

If your morning sickness symptoms persist throughout your pregnancy, listen to your body and talk to your doctor about what you are experiencing. The pain that you feel while pregnant is valid and your doctor is there to help you navigate every part of your pregnancy.

Your pregnancy is unique to your body, so trying to stay in tune with yourself as you keep a line of communication with your doctor can help to combat morning sickness. Try to eat foods that you can keep down and avoid foods that smell or taste bad to you. Stay hydrated and try to find the right balance between rest and activity. 

Disclaimer: This article is for informational use only. It is not intended to prevent, treat, or diagnose any medical condition or ailment. Please consult your physician or medical professional before making any diet or lifestyle changes. If you think you may have HG, please seek medical attention immediately.


One Response to “Morning Sickness Vs. Hyperemesis Gravidarum — What You Need To Know”

  1. Morning Sickness Vs. Hyperemesis Gravidarum - What You Need To Know - Joyousjoy.com
    July 7th, 2020 @ 5:21 pm

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