Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Residual Nausea II - The Road Less Travelled

I got an interesting comment the other day on my post on residual nausea, and I wanted to quote that comment (permission received- thanks, Anna!) for anyone else out there.

My original post concerned the phenomenon of residual nausea following hyperemesis, which I discovered first-hand after I birthed my baby. In other words, the nausea is supposed to stop with the birth - and it often doesn't. My nausea declined steeply the first week following the birth, but was present (in decreasing incidences and severity) until about two years postpartum, with occasional instances even now (2 1/2 years postpartum). I have heard from several other mothers saying the same thing - nausea doesn't always evaporate at the birth.

But there can be another side to residual nausea - a rare complication in which hyperemesis continues past the birth of an HG-mum's baby. For some reason, the body has gotten into a "mode" and can't turn off the nausea, and the HG continues for an unspecified amount of time.

I can completely understand this happening, because I experienced a similar phenomenon. When we got pregnant with our first baby, we experienced a miscarriage at 8 weeks. Due to the symptoms and characteristics of the pregnancy, we were able to conclude that it was a "blighted ovum pregnancy," a pregnancy in which the baby is conceived but dies almost immediately or soon into the pregnancy. The body, however, doesn't realize that the baby is dead and continues the "pregnancy" - i.e. the hormone production, the development of the amniotic sac, etc. Your body keeps doing its thing until, sometime after the fact, it finally realizes that the baby is gone, and a miscarriage follows. It seems a related phenomenon - the body stays in pregnancy mode until, at some point, it figures out that there is no more baby and shifts back to normal gear.

Here is the comment from Anna, an HG-mother who is experiencing postpartum-continued HG:

"I had an HG pregnancy. The nausea started before my hormone levels were high enough to turn a pregnancy test positive. I had a horrible first trimester (eased by a Zofran pump). The nausea eased during the second trimester but came back full force during the last trimester. I delievered 4 weeks early. The day after my son was born, my nausea was more severe than it had ever been. It was so bad that I began shaking and wondered if I would go into shock- I felt like my body couldn't take it! For my first 4 months post partum, I was still extremely nauseated- it fluctuated from day to day. Some days were not terrible. I ended up with a PICC line to give myself IV fluids and IV meds at home. (I also had 3 hospital stays during this time due to the severity of the nausea.) The doctor's ran every test in the world and couldn't find anything wrong with me. They even sent me to the Mayo Clinic. (reseach hospital) Those doctors told me that this is a very rare condition. For some reason, my body just didn't "turn off" the nausea when my baby was born. The doctor told me that the expected it to be gone in a year (that was May 2008). Today, my son is 10 months old and I still take four different anti-emetics to keep the nausea down. Some days I still feel terrible, even with the meds. I am getting better...slowly!!"

First of all, HG mothers take heart! This is an extremely rare condition - so rare that I've only heard of two cases of it EVER, and so rare that I have not found it mentioned in any literature on the subject. I am mentioning this only for the sake of any mums who do experience this - you can know that you are not alone.

For those of you who are reading this, please pray for Anna and her healing! This is a trying time for her and her family.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this! If anyone has had a similar experience, I really hope we find them! (Feel free to pass on my e-mail address if you hear from anyone.)


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