Morning Sickness vs. Hyperemesis Gravidrum (HG)

Is it Morning Sickness or More?

Morning sickness is an extremely common pregnancy symptom that includes nausea and occasional vomiting. It can also be accompanied by a loss of appetite and fatigue. Usually, morning sickness symptoms will subside within 12 to 14 weeks and are not severe.  

Hyperemesis Gravidrum (HG) includes nausea that typically does not go away and severe vomiting that can lead to dehydration. HG can begin within the first six weeks of pregnancy and can last for an undetermined amount of time. Because HG is severe, it can be debilitating due to fatigue, a complete lack of appetite, dehydration, and poor weight gain. 

The National Organization for Rare Disorders recognizes that HG is “the second leading cause of hospitalization in early pregnancy and is more common in non-white and Asian populations.” 

Although it can be scary to think about nausea that doesn’t go away, it’s important to understand that morning sickness is much more common than HG. Just because you are experiencing morning sickness does not mean that you will suffer throughout your entire pregnancy. 

HG Signs & Symptoms

With nausea and vomiting being common symptoms in early pregnancy, it’s good to be able to recognize when these symptoms are out of the ordinary.

Some of the most common symptoms of HG are:

  • feeling nearly constant nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting more than three or four times per day
  • becoming dehydrated
  • feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • losing more than 10 pounds or 5 percent of your body weight due to nausea or vomiting

Mom’s Mental and Physical Health 

As a part of HER Foundation’s blog, Rachel shared her personal experience suffering from HG. She lost 13 pounds in one week before she was officially diagnosed with HG. After her diagnosis, she was completely bedridden and bathroom ridden due to the debilitating symptoms. Rachel recounts, “It was unbearable. I wanted to die. In fact, I told my husband, family, and doctors that phrase over and over again.”

The reality about HG is the effects that it has on an expectant mother’s mental health. Women may suffer from postpartum depression and anxiety, have difficulties bonding with their newborns, and can even experience PTSD. Her Foundation reports that “Nearly 20% of women with HG will have PTSD and many more will have symptoms of trauma but not full criteria PTSD. It is common for women to seek answers about HG and be quite emotional discussing or thinking about their pregnancy for many years afterward.” 

As with any experience that may be traumatic, it is okay to not be the same after everything you’ve been through. You can grieve what HG took from you, whatever that may be, and healing is not linear. Prioritize your physical and mental health, reach out to family and friends, or seek counseling and group therapy. And that doesn’t just go for HG either- pregnancy, labor, or postpartum can be traumatic in general. You’ve prioritized the wellbeing of your baby for 9 months and probably experienced some things that could be unpacked. What better time than now to start putting yourself and other women first?

The best thing that we can do is raise awareness about HG, advocate for Moms who suffer from HG, and ensure that society recognizes the physical and mental toll it can take on a woman. If you are suffering from HG or experienced it during any of your pregnancies, we see you. You are strong, brave, and inspiring. We encourage you to share your own stories and even connect with other moms who may have gone through similar experiences. As always, you are never alone.


HER (Hyperemesis Education and Research) Foundation

National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD)

HG Care App- UCLA Health partnered with the HER Foundation on this free iOS app for women experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum. It tracks how little (or how much) you’ve eaten and whether your treatments are working, sends alerts if your weight drops or you’re getting dehydrated and need medical attention, reminds you to take meds, and more.