Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG): Preventing Pregnancy Problem?

I had hyperemesis gravidarum with my first two pregnancies and am gearing up for a third one. Is there anything I can do to prevent or minimize the effects?

– September 28, 2010

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is extreme, persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. HG is worse than the familiar morning sickness nearly all women experience during the first three months of pregnancy, and can quickly lead to dehydration. Both conditions are believed to stem from rising blood levels of human chrionic gonadotropin (HCG), which is released by the placenta. Extreme nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are more likely if you are pregnant with twins (or other multiples) or develop a rare condition involving overgrowth of tissue that is to form the placenta.

I discussed your question with Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, dietary supplements and women’s health, and an expert on botanical medicine. She suggested the following strategies:

  • Try to eat small protein-rich meals every two hours to keep your strength up. Eating protein before you go to bed is especially important. Some peanut butter on a slice of whole grain bread or protein shakes can be good choices. Take your prenatal vitamin with dinner instead of in the morning.
  • Take 25 mg of vitamin B6 three times per day. It has proved highly effective for relieving morning sickness for many women. Do not take more than 100 mg per day.
  • Take 500 mg dried ginger in capsules 2-3 times per day. Ginger has been shown in many clinical trials to be highly effective for relieving nausea, including hyperemesis gravidarum. Dried ginger is more potent than fresh for this purpose. Do not exceed 1,500 mg per day.
  • Try acupressure wristbands, which can be very helpful. These are available at many health food stores and some pharmacies. They are often called "sea bands," as they are also used for motion sickness and are completely safe with no side effects. Acupuncture is also effective, however, try the wristbands first as they are convenient and less expensive than acupuncture.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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