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Treatment for hyperemesis gravidarum (severe sickness and vomiting during pregnancy)

You can take the following medication to treat hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) during pregnancy:

  • anti-sickness drugs
  • vitamins B6 and B12
  • steroids

Folic acid and other pregnancy supplements can also reduce sickness. You should take these every day for at least the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Take them when the sickness is not too bad.

Ask your GP or obstetrician which medications are suitable for you. You may need to try different types of medication until you find what works best for you.

Treatment in hospital

You may need treatment in hospital if you have:

  • severe HG
  • other conditions that complicate your HG symptoms

During your stay, your healthcare team will monitor you and your baby’s health. They may need to:

  • check your blood pressure and pulse
  • examine your tummy
  • test your urine to check for infections
  • test your urine to check for high 'ketone' levels - these mean you are not getting enough energy from your food
  • do blood tests - to track your hormone levels and check for dehydration

You might also have ultrasound scans to:

  • make sure your baby is growing well
  • check for other causes of severe morning sickness, such as twins or molar pregnancy

In hospital, you'll get bed rest and regular checks. These checks will look at your weight, fluid intake and output.

You may also get an an IV line (drip). This is a small plastic tube placed in your hand or arm to put fluids into your blood. You will usually need this until your vomiting improves and you are no longer dehydrated.

Your treatment may also include:

  • anti-sickness medication or vitamin B - through your IV line or as tablets
  • elastic compression stockings - to prevent blood clots
  • injections into your tummy to prevent blood clots

Your symptoms should reduce as your pregnancy continues. You may still need to take medicine for a few weeks after leaving hospital.

Treatment at home

If your GP does not think you need to go to hospital, you can reduce your symptoms by:

  • resting
  • planning ahead to avoid work at times when symptoms are worse
  • avoiding things that you know trigger your sickness - such as strong smells
  • drinking plenty of fluids - if you struggle to keep water down, you could try ice lollies or watermelon
  • having drinks with ginger, fennel or peppermint to help reduce sickness
  • eating small snacks every 2 to 3 hours - carbohydrates (like crackers or biscuits) are best
  • not eating and drinking at the same time - some women say this reduces sickness

Do not worry if your diet is not very healthy. The important thing is to stop yourself from losing weight. Once your sickness improves, you can eat a healthy balanced diet.

Related topic

Healthy eating during pregnancy

It's important to get support if you need it. If you're feeling very upset, speak to your GP.

page last reviewed: 17/05/2019
next review due: 17/05/2022