A woman sits in bed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) while her husband hands her a glass of water

9 Ways to Help Someone with Hyperemesis Gravidarum

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is severe nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. I struggled through HG in my pregnancy with my daughter, and I’m hoping that a few of the suggestions below will help you to help another HG momma struggle a little less.

If you need to know how to pronounce it it’s Hi-per-Emma-sis Gra-vi-dare-umm. Just break it up.

Thank you for looking for ways to support the HG mom in your life. Every little effort helps so much!

1. Don’t suggest saltine crackers for Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Seriously though, whenever I told someone I was really sick during my pregnancy, they inevitably told me how nibbling a couple of saltines before getting out of bed completely eliminated their nausea and then asked if I’d tried it yet. By the time mom figures out she has Hyperemesis Gravidarum, she’s tried literally everything she can. So please, please don’t suggest saltines, ginger tea, or small meals throughout the day.

I promise she’s heard it all, probably from her doctor or midwife before anyone else. She’s tried it all, and none of it has worked. Maybe saltines help one HG momma a little, but that also might literally be the only thing she can eat. Or maybe she’s thrown up saltines so many times now that just hearing the word makes her gag. 

If you really want to know if she’s tried your magic fix for nausea yet, just ask her all the things she’s tried and if anything has brought relief at all. But please keep your suggestions to yourself until you’ve heard her out. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a lot more intense than typical morning sickness and often requires more intensive solutions and care for the mom to get through it.

2. Encourage them to see their doctor about Hyperemesis Gravidarum

If you know a mom who seems sicker than is normal during pregnancy, find out if she’s talked to her care provider about her condition. Many moms, especially first-time moms, don’t realize that HG is not normal morning sickness.

Midwives and doctors can help these moms receive a diagnosis, which validates the intensity and difficulty of their experience and paves the way for creating an effective care plan.

Unfortunately, some care providers will dismiss a mom’s claims about severe pregnancy sickness. If this happens to a mom in your life, encourage her to see a provider who has experience treating patients with Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

Perhaps you can do some of the leg work to find a provider so she won’t have to do it alone. Having medical professionals on her side in this journey will make all the difference in her pregnancy and Hyperemesis Gravidarum journey.

3. Advocate with them at the doctor’s office

As I mentioned above, some care providers dismiss women who share their stories of intense pregnancy sickness. It is so important for those moms to have someone back them up in those situations. Sometimes HG moms have to find new providers, but sometimes it just takes another voice validating their story and filling in details they’ve left out for the doctor or midwife to listen to. 

The sick momma might be too exhausted or weak to really fight for herself, and she’s going to need you to stand up for her. Whether she’s seeking medication or regular IV fluids, she’ll need you to back her up and make sure she gets the help she needs to have a healthy baby.

4. Make sure they have drinks and snacks

When an HG mom does find food or drinks she can tolerate, you can help by making sure she always has them. I remember in the beginning eating pomegranate popsicles at breakfast time each day, and my sweet husband stocked the freezer for me.

For several months, I couldn’t keep regular water down. I could only handle certain flavors of sugar-free Gatorade, and my wonderful in-laws bought me cases and cases of it. These gestures meant so much to me since there were so few things I could ingest.

So ask your HG momma if anything at all sounds good to her and make sure she has plenty of whatever it is. Any nutrition is good nutrition for a mom going through Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

5. Make sure they have their prescriptions For Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Moms going through Hyperemesis Gravidarum might be prescribed several different medications to help control their nausea and vomiting. Some will need a pump in their arm to give them more immediate access to medication.

If the HG mom in your life takes pills or tablets to combat her nausea and vomiting, make sure she doesn’t run out. If you live together, keep track of how much she has left. Make trips to the pharmacy so she won’t have to. Many HG moms are too sick to make those trips themselves and desperately need medication to help them cope.

Another way you can help is to encourage the expectant mom to take her medication. Try to alleviate any guilt she might feel about needing medication and remind her that it’s safe. In fact, it’s sustaining her. And her baby’s life.

6. Bring them something clean to puke in

As much as we don’t like to deal with or even talk about puke, it’s a huge and frequent part of every HG momma’s pregnancy. To make this time a little more bearable for her, you can make sure she always has something clean to puke in. 

I always kept mixing bowls near my bed or the couch, and my saintly husband always cleaned them out after I threw up. Another great option is emesis bags, similar to the ones you get on airplanes. They make it easy to throw up and throw it away without a mess to clean up. They’re also great to bring along on any trips outside the house.

Making sure all toilets and sinks in the house are kept clean can also help. I was shocked at how disgusting our toilet smelled to me after only one day without being scrubbed. I personally ended up mostly using sinks and mixing bowls for my puking. I was too weak to get down to the level of the toilet quickly enough on the rare occasions I was out of bed.

However the HG mom in your life prefers to throw up, I’m sure she will appreciate anything you can do to make the experience slightly less awful. I loved that my husband always stocked my bedside with an extra, clean mixing bowl, hair ties, a drink for rinsing, and tissues for me to wipe my tears and running nose after a puking episode.

7. Listen

Just listen to her. Ask her how she’s feeling and then let her do the talking.

I remember feeling so isolated and lonely during my pregnancy. I was too sick to go anywhere but the doctor’s in the beginning. My friends didn’t understand what I was going through, and many of them drifted away.

I had one angel friend though who just asked how I was doing, listened, and told me that Hyperemesis Gravidarum must suck. I felt so seen and loved in that moment. I still tear up a little thinking about that conversation. I really needed her support, and I’m so grateful she knew how to give it.

8. Love them

This suggestion ties in well with listening to the pregnant mom in your life, but listening is just one way to love her. You can tell her you love her, and she’s probably going to need to hear it a lot more than usual. 

You can send her a card or write her a sweet note. You could make a care package with a few of the foods she can tolerate or some other HG survival tools. You could bring her books to read or listen to.

You could clean the house, do the laundry, or catch up on the dishes. You could take any other children out for a special day since they’ll be struggling with their mom being sick and she’ll be struggling with not being able to be the mom she wants to be.

And pray for her. Whether you tell her or not, I truly believe that God will hear you and guide you to know how else you can help her. Telling her you’re praying for her comfort and health and encouragement could boost her spirits too.

Whatever you can do to remind her you love her and to relieve some of the stress she’s feeling will help. She needs all the support she can get right now!

9. Love their baby

Finally, remember that this momma is sick for a reason—she’s having a baby!!!! That is SO exciting!! Love on her baby. Don’t let the HG steal all the joy of being pregnant.

Talk about baby names and nursery themes. Help her set up a baby registry and ooh and ah over all the cute baby outfits. Plan a baby shower for later in her pregnancy, or even after the birth, when she will be feeling better.

As difficult as Hyperemesis Gravidarum is, help this momma celebrate her motherhood and her sweet baby on the way. Help her remember how very worth it all of this will be.

If you or someone you know has survived Hyperemesis Gravidarum, please share any other helpful suggestions you’ve found in the comments!

We want to help as many mommas as we can, and we’d love to hear your suggestions for any future Hyperemesis Gravidarum pregnancies in our own little family.

Good luck with everything! Prayers for comfort and for a healthy baby!

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