I am almost 20 weeks pregnant and have been diagnosed with hyperemesis. I've been in the hospital 2 times for dehydration and am currently receiving IV therapy once a week in order to maintain the hydration. In addition, I've lost 19 lbs (I'm 5'4" and now weigh 131). I am currently able to eat enough to maintain weight, but haven't gained in the last 2 weeks. I know the baby is OK - as my doctor says he/she is feeding off of my stored nutrients. My question is, if this pattern continues and my weight gain is very low, will it impact my ability to breastfeed after delivery or will my body be able to handle that extra demand? Is there a correlation? Thanks so much,
Joy & "Spanky, Jr" - EDD 9/9

Dr. Greene`s Answer:

Dear Joy (and Spanky, Jr), Congratulations on the miracle happening inside you. I’m sure the intractable vomitinghas been difficult to deal with. Perhaps this high price has made your baby seem all the more precious.

Hyperemesis feels like it will go on forever. For most affected women, it begins between weeks 4 and 10 of the pregnancy, and the first hospitalization usually occurs somewhere between weeks 8 and 12.

Good news: most women, even those with severe hyperemesis, will get better at around 20 weeks. Now that you are able to eat enough to maintain weight, you may be starting to turn the corner.

For some women, though, the hyperemesis does continue later in the pregnancy. Even then, normal breastfeeding is usually fine. During the months that you breastfeed, you will need to take in an extra 500 calories a day to produce the best milk for your baby. A prenatal vitamin is usually wise.

In the meantime, this is a significant situation, not to be taken lightly. The main issues are proper diagnosis (when vomiting occurs during pregnancy, people assume it is pregnancy-related – not always!), and proper fluid, electrolyte, and nutrient support. If the hyperemesis does continue beyond 20 weeks, you might want to consider talking with your doctor about trying some additional treatments. In good scientific trials, ginger has been shown to have a beneficial effect. Some evidence supports the use of vitamin B6 as treatment, but is not impressive for acupressure. Hypnosis, though, has been reported to completely stop vomiting in up to 88 percent of women with hyperemesis after only 1 to 3 sessions.

I wish you all the best on your adventure. Please keep in touch!

Last medical review on: August 23, 2008
About the Author
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Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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