Hello, dear readers!
At long last, here is my write-up about what I've learned about hyperemesis gravidarum prevention. I beg your forgiveness for any errors or omissions, and I ask you to remember that I am not a medical professional - just a passionately interested amateur. Please note my disclaimer at the bottom, and do your own research on any method presented that you wish to try.
I have chosen to write this post interview-style for clarity of subject matter and ease of topic location. Please note, I am not *really* being interviewed here (or rather, I am being self-interviewed!). It is only a chosen method of narration.
Please feel free to ask any questions or join - nicely! - in the conversation. I cannot have any arguments or unkind words here, so please do note that any such comments will be quietly deleted.
Enjoy, dear friends!
Basic term definitions:
- NVP = Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy, the technical term for "morning sickness," and used throughout this article preferentially due to clearer meaning
- HG = Hyperemesis Gravidarum, the most extreme form of NVP
Let's start at the beginning. What is hyperemesis gravidarum (HG)?
Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy (NVP) runs a complete spectrum. At one end is the woman who traverses the journey of pregnancy without a bit of nausea; at the other end is the woman whose NVP brings her to near-death (or occasionally, death). Hyperemesis gravidarum is the extreme form of NVP. Though there is no exact dividing line between "bad NVP" and hyperemesis (or rather, dividing lines vary by the person defining them), hyperemesis can be roughly defined as extreme nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. The definition I list on this site is:
"Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. It is generally described as unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids. If severe and/or inadequately treated, it is typically associated with: (1) loss of greater than 5% of pre-pregnancy body weight (usually over 10%), (2) dehydration and production of ketones, (3) nutritional deficiencies, (4) metabolic imbalances, (5) difficulty with daily activities."Again, there are many different definitions of HG. Various definitions that I've heard include: "You have HG when you've... (1) lost 10% of your pre-conception weight, (2) been hospitalized for dehydration, (3) been hospitalized twice, (4) been hospitalized three times (seriously!), (5) received IV rehydration, (6) required medication for NVP management, (7) are unable to continue with daily activities" - and the list continues. Definition really seems to vary by caregiver.
After experiencing the condition myself and doing years of reading on the subject, I tend to define hyperemesis with a combination of physical and emotional markers. For example, on the physical side:
- I can’t keep anything down.
- I am no longer using the bathroom (or not very often).
- I am losing weight.
- I am vomiting multiple times per day.
- I am having trouble handling ordinary everyday tasks, such as caring for myself and my children.
- I am feeling frightened, panicky or desperate.
- My body is out of control and I can't stop it.
- Nobody understands what's happening to me and I feel very alone and isolated.
- I am hoping or praying for death or miscarriage.
- I have considered, envisioned, planned, or gone through with an abortion.
- I have considered, envisioned, or attempted suicide.
I want to learn more about HG. Where do I go from here?
Start with the link list to the left of my blog! Make sure to visit the HER Foundation website. Buy and read the definitive guide to HG, Beyond Morning Sickness: Battling Hyperemesis Gravidarum by Ashli McCall. (Pregnant mamas, please don't read this book while you're expecting. It's very dark.) Ashli is a severe-HG survivor and knows far more than I about this condition!
How did you learn about hyperemesis?
Like most of us, I had never heard of HG prior to pregnancy. I have no history of extreme NVP in my family. My mom, for example, told me that during her pregnancy she experienced a few days of light nausea that was completely manageable by nibbling a few dry crackers. I expected the same for myself.
When we discovered that we were expecting our first (live-born) son, my nausea stayed "cute" for a few days. Cute as in, "I'm pregnant! I'm nauseated! This is so exciting!" The problem was that it didn't stop there. It simply got worse, and worse, and worse, and worse - until I was lying on the bathroom floor crying and hoping that I would die. It was hideous. And it stayed that way. I ended up being on a liquid diet (hourly sips of Ensure and Slimfast) for about fifteen to twenty weeks, which kept me out of the hospital. After that I was still nauseated and weak for the rest of the pregnancy, but more stable. I then dealt with residual postpartum nausea for somewhere between one and a half and two years.
With subsequent pregnancies, the illness was controlled by drugs and thus never reached the same level of misery. However, I noticed that with those pregnancies the nausea hit harder and much, much faster (before I could get a positive test), leading me to think that the drug-free versions of those pregnancies would have been much worse than my first (in which I had a few non-nauseated days and then a few days of lighter nausea).
What type of hyperemesis (HG) do you get during your pregnancies?
I have a hard time qualifying the type of HG that I get.
On the one hand, HG was the most horrific event of my life. It entailed the most physical suffering I have ever experienced. Afterward, it took me two years to recover physically, and six years to recover my faith in God. I still get horrible flashbacks to that time (I'm getting them as I write this article). The only way that I can describe my experience was that it felt like sliding into the pit of Hell.
I am also aware that compared to many of you ladies out there, my HG experience was a blissful walk in the park - complete with rainbows, flowers, balloons, and dancing unicorns.
The type of HG that I get has been manageable with home medication. In other words, with high doses of Zofran (24 mg/day) and Unisom (don't ask), I have been able to stay out of the hospital and out of the world of extreme HG.
Thus, I know that I am only partially qualified to talk about this condition, and I want my readers to be aware of this fact. I am not on the same level as you extreme-HG ladies, and my writing will reflect that ignorance. I know more about NVP than 98-odd percent of the world, but those last few percentage points represented by some of you really blow me out of the water.
Okay, let's move on and talk about the VLC diet. What is it, and how did you run across it?
Several years ago, I ran across an internet interview of a physician who uses a VLC (very low carb) diet to treat infertility in clients with PCOS/PCOD (polycystic ovarian syndrome/disorder). In the article, it was mentioned that those same clients also experienced lower NVP levels than typical women.
Being ever-aware of the NVP issue, I immediately located the doctor and contacted him to ask if this same diet was ever used to treat or prevent hyperemesis. He replied in the affirmative, and was so kind as to provide the diet guideline sheets for my use.
Read the whole story here.
How do you know that this diet is safe - for you and for baby?
The main question seems to revolve around the issue of ketosis, a state induced by a very-low-carb diet. To explain in brief - when we humans have carbohydrates in our diets, we are "carb burners." We burn carbs for fuel. When we don't have carbs available, our bodies make the switch into fat-burning for fuel, inducing a state called ketosis. This is a common human condition - sometimes culturally (some entire cultures live in perpetual ketosis), sometimes situationally (during fasting, for example), and sometimes due to purposeful cultivation - ketosis is used intentionally by athletes in training, and also for treatment of seizure disorders.
Please note that ketosis is very different from diabetic ketoacidosis, which is indeed a dangerous condition. Often there is no differentiation made between the two, and hence the panic.
"Part of the problem lies in the word ketosis itself, which closely resembles ketocacidosis, a medical term that's used to describe a life-threatening condition in type 1 diabetics. Many doctors scoff at the idea of allowing one of their patients to get into a state of ketosis because they immediately think of all the negative side effects associated with ketoacidosis. This confusion may have allowed many patients to remain in a diseased state when they could have seen tremendous improvements in their health with the use of a ketogenic diet." (Jimmy Moore, Keto-Clarity, p. 38)
An additional interesting point is that ketosis is often found in NVP/HG clients as a side-effect of NVP/HG itself. So, rather oddly, if I avoid the VLC diet to stay out of ketosis, I will end up with HG... which may very well put me into ketosis anyway. I'd rather have ketosis and no HG than both at once!
In my never-to-be humble opinion, there is no doubt that a low-carbohydrate diet and ketosis are safe and even advantageous for adult humans. Not only have I had spectacular personal results health-wise from this diet (both during pregnancy and before), but there are entire cultures who have lived for hundreds of years on low-carb or even very-low-carb diets. I have no qualms about this.
The real concern is whether a VLC diet is safe for a developing baby. Again, as there are many cultures who live continually in ketosis (including during pregnancy), I am satisfied with the safety of ketosis for babies in utero.
Most care providers will be more nervous about it.
This is where it's up to you to do your homework and make your own decisions. If you're not comfortable with the safety issue, don't do it.
I should note, however, that for me (as with many of you) this is not a "Hey! I'm in ketosis for the fun of it!" thing. It's an either/or situation. Either I can be in ketosis (and HG-free and drug-free), or I can be in active hyperemesis and therefore be pumping large amounts of synthetic drugs into my body and my baby. I have to pick one or the other.
Most obstetricians, due to their training in western medicine, will be horrified at the thought of ketosis but will be absolutely fine with you pumping massive amounts of drugs into your body and your baby. That's just their bias received in training. I'd prefer it the other way around!
I'm sure there are other issues to consider health-wise, and other arguments to ponder. Do your research and make a decision with which you are comfortable. For more information, join us over at the Facebook group Pregnant Ketosis. Also check out the excellent book Keto-Clarity (and consult the appendices of that book for a list of further resources, including books and websites).
You mentioned positive health effects from doing the VLC diet. Can you elaborate?
Besides avoiding hyperemesis, pre-conception health benefits that I noticed included:
- Healing my seasonal allergies (I have heard that this can be done by going grain-free or even wheat-free, so the low-carb part may not be necessary for this.)
- Healing my adult acne
- More energy and less fatigue
- Healing my postpartum post-HG nausea
This diet looks really hard. How could I ever do something like this?
I am notoriously bad at sticking to diets. Many years ago, when my husband asked me to do a low-carb diet with him (a diet which was, incidentally, much easier than this one!), I lasted somewhere between 24-48 hours. It just wasn't worth it to me.
With this diet, however, I had a huge motivating factor on my side - fear. I fear HG more than anything in the world, and this was my chance to avoid it. That is the only thing that made staying on this diet faithfully even a remote possibility - and it worked. Fear is a powerful motivator.
What difficulties or challenges did you experience as you adopted this diet?
I encountered many challenges with this diet. Here are a couple:
(1) Expense - Any good cook or homemaker knows that high-carb foods (grains, legumes, seasonal fruit, and starchy vegetables) are the saving grace of a grocery budget. Removing these and substituting low-carb, high-fat, high-protein foods (eggs, non-starchy vegetables, meat, cheese) causes significantly higher grocery costs.
(2) Learning to "double-cook" - The method I developed for family cooking was to make a low-carb main dish and vegetable, and then add a high-carb side dish (corn, peas, potatoes, rice, cornbread, etc.) to keep the family happy. This works well, but it adds to the workload - as well as to the planning component of meal times. Additionally...
(3) Keeping kids happy! - There are lots of low-carb meals out there, but many (most) of them are not particularly kid-friendly. This has been a definite (ongoing) challenge.
(3) Learning to brown-bag - On this diet, it is a constant assumption that I will need to bring my own food wherever I go. Church, potlucks, family reunions, visits with family, dinners with friends, any social gathering - I have to bring my own food. This is time-consuming, somewhat embarrassing, and a bit isolating - but one does get used to it. After all, I'm working for the greater good here - it's not just for the fun of it.
(4) Family/culture issues - One of the hardest parts about adopting any particular diet is the fact that it isolates one from one's family and family history history (goodbye to Grandma's apple pie) and one's culture (farewell to Independence Day fried chicken and potato salad). About 95% (or more) of your recipes will have to be put aside for this dietary lifestyle. This is a purely emotional and psychological phenomenon, but it is not to be underestimated. It's depressing! Again, it's important to remember that I'm working for an important goal.
(5) Reactions from others - Do not expect your extended family to understand or sympathize with what you are doing. Some will, and some will not. You may even receive some hostile reactions (common to anyone trying a new diet). It's just part of life. Depending on your family's reaction, you will have to develop your own emotional coping strategies. Just be prepared for this. Additionally, many people will be sympathetic but will not understand. For example: "Oh, you can't eat carbs? So... you have to use whole wheat bread instead of white when you make a sandwich?" Or "You can't eat carbs - but you can surely eat honey, RIGHT?" Expect some people to be confused, uncomprehending, or even horrified.
Can I ever "cheat" on this diet?
It's best not to cheat. And indeed, I went (nearly) an entire year absolutely carb-free. But technically, you are allowed one cheat meal per week. The method that I eventually adopted was to allow one or two cheat meals per month, always during my period (when I was at the beginning of my cycle, knew that I wasn't pregnant, and had an entire month to do damage control).
How did your first run-through with this experiment go?
I began this experiment with our last child. When we got a positive test, I had been doing the VLC diet for 40 days. Read the full story here and my discussion of the story here. Unfortunately, it was a very mysterious outcome. The quick summary: I went into a horrible and fast HG slide... but them quickly recovered and felt fine. (Weird.) However, believing that I was going to miscarry, I began to cheat (badly) on the diet, and the NVP came galloping back. I ended up having to take my usual high doses of medication, but going right back on the diet along with the medication helped me to manage. It's really a mystery, but suffice it to say that the diet worked then too - I just messed it up through my own stupidity.
This is one reason why I recommend doing the diet far-far-far in advance of conception, especially for you severe-HG mamas. With my most recent pregnancy, I had been on the diet for almost two years (instead of 40 days), and I did not experience that same horrifying HG slide. It could be coincidental, but my conclusion is that longer is better.
Let's talk about your most recent pregnancy. How did using the VLC diet work this time around?
I will start out (and continue, of course!) by being honest - at first, I was very disappointed with my results. I had worked so long and so hard at this diet (almost two years before conception!) that my hope was for an NVP-free pregnancy - a pregnancy in which I felt fine (or had perhaps only minimal occasional twinges of nausea) and was able to keep up with all daily activities even during the first trimester.
That didn't happen. To the contrary, I spent the first trimester (and the second, to a lesser extent) feeling good and crummy. I spent a lot of it lying down, and my daily routine was completely disrupted. It wasn't the dream-pregnancy I'd envisioned at all. And I stayed nauseated until the day of birth.
But I was soon able to face the facts. I did not throw up. I did not need to take Zofran. I was functional, and clearly non-hyperemetic. The fact that I felt like dirt for a few months was an easy trade-off for those blessings. And had we had the money to add in a few extras like acupuncture, it might have been even easier. I also believe that I could have had better results had I paid more attention to pre-conception supplements, which I neglected due to our financial situation.
How about some specifics? What daily activities were you able to continue?
I was able to continue an almost-full load of activities through the early part of week 5. This is a huge improvement, as I am usually on medication and miserable by the end of week 3. At 5+1 I attended a park day with all of the children, and at 5+3 I was able to handle playing for a two-hour long evening church service (though not feeling so hot for that one!).
Daily activities that I was able to keep up during the first trimester:
- Self-care (showering, dressing)
- Feeding the children cold foods (cheese, crackers, etc.)
- One daily load of laundry
- Daily pick-up
- Minimal housework
And what activities did you have to discontinue temporarily?
- Exercise and stretching
- Evening walks
- Deep house-cleaning, dusting
- Supervising chores
- Errands, playdates, park days, church - anything outside of the house was just too much
- Yard work
- Reading aloud to the children
How did your pregnancy go in general?
During pregnancy, all of my pregnancy stats stayed absolutely on target per gestational age. For baby, this includes fundal height (FH), fetal heart tones (FHT), fetal positioning, etc. For me, this included pregnancy urinalysis, blood pressure (which stayed rock-solid low the entire time), blood tests, and weight. I stayed in ketosis the entire time, ranging from deep (at the beginning) to mild (at the end).
Nausea was "strong but manageable" from week 5, tapering down to "comfortable" at the end. Again, I never threw up. Unfortunately, it stayed till birth, as it always has.
Check out my pregnancy updates here:
And how about some stats for baby - any health problems? How about labor, Apgars, birth weight, etc.?
We do not do prenatal ultrasound scans unless indicated by other variables. Thus, I cannot give any ultrasound scan results.
Here are some basic labor/birth stats for baby:
Gestational age at birth: 39+3
Laboring times: Hard to say, but approximately 2:00 p.m. on 11/11/14 to 10:06 on 11/12/14
Total labor time: 20:06 total, 15 minutes hard labor
First stage complications: None
Second stage complications: None
Third stage complications: None
Apgar, 1 minute: 10
Apgar, 5 minute: 10
Baby's length: 21 inches
Baby's weight: 8#8 (Our other babies were 7#12, 7#15, and 9#9.)
Baby's head circumference:
Read our birth story here.
I think we need to take a break and talk about confounding variables.
YES. Absolutely. Confounding variables are a huge factor that merits discussion here.
In any truly scientific experiment, it is permissible to vary only one variable at a time. Otherwise, accurate conclusions cannot be drawn from said experiment.
"Confounding variables (aka third variables) are variables that the researcher failed to control, or eliminate, damaging the internal validity of an experiment.
"A confounding variable, also known as a third variable or a mediator variable, can adversely affect the relation between the independent variable and dependent variable. This may cause the researcher to analyze the results incorrectly. The results may show a false correlation between the dependent and independent variables, leading to an incorrect rejectionof the null hypothesis." (source)
Let me illustrate this point. In my researches to find the cause and help for severe NVP, I have run across many ideas to try. The include using the following to prevent HG: pre-conception liver-cleansing, magnesium levels, fermented foods (H. pylori theory), and the VLC diet.
If I wanted to conduct a truly scientific experiment, I would have to utilize only one of those items per experiment (i.e. per pregnancy). In other words, with one pregnancy I would work only on my pre-conception magnesium levels. For the next pregnancy I would work only on using the fermented foods/H. pylori protocol. For the next pregnancy I would work only on using the VLC diet.
This is the only way that results can be considered conclusive.
However, I am neither so brave nor so foolish. I am not willing to leave any possible avenues untapped while waiting to see if HG is going to rear its ugly head.
Rather, like most women, I am completely willing to pile together every method of HG prevention to see if I can achieve my goal - that is, pregnancy without hyperemesis.
But this means that there are confounding variables - that it isn't possible to know without the shadow of a doubt which factor contributed to HG prevention - or if it was a combination of two or more factors together. While I am confident that the VLC diet worked to prevent HG, it must be admitted that I did plenty of other things to work on HG prevention.
In that case, can you elaborate a bit? What confounding variables did you have in this experiment?
Ah, that will take a while! Let's look at the other things I did before and during this pregnancy.
(1) Magnesium supplementation - Read more about magnesium and NVP here. I started using magnesium at least half a year before conception. Primarily we use Natural Calm. I also used small amounts of topical Magnesium Oil and Epsom salts baths, but those were minor contributors.
(2) Fermented cod liver oil - Great product. Unfortunately we haven't continued it due to the cost, but it has a great reputation. I'm still supplementing with DHA/EPA (just not the fermented variety).
(3) H. pylori protocol - One of the most exciting events of last year for me was the news that a friend of mine (and repeat-HG mama) had figured out the cure to her hyperemesis - a fact that was confirmed by the fact that her pregnancy turned out to be twins (with still no more than moderate NVP!). I immediately added her ideas to my pre-conception diet, starting 6-8 months before our own baby was conceived. These steps included:
- Adding raw fermented foods to my diet (raw sauerkraut, raw dill pickles, kefir, raw kombucha)
- Using colloidal silver
- Doing a pre-conception turmeric/colloidal silver protocol: 1 tsp of colloidal silver plus one tab turmeric 3 times per day on an empty stomach for 9-14 days. (I plan to make this an annual routine.)
(4) Supplements in general - We have been fairly good about trying to take good supplements. However, this is not really a serious contender for HG prevention. I mention it only because it is "something I did." See my full list of supplements here.
And, as a side note, are there any methods out there that you didn't use?
I no longer use any herbs (including ginger) for pre- or post-conception HG prevention. I worked with herbs during an earlier pregnancy, and they simply did not help - rather, they made me sicker due to the horrible taste/smell. While some women do use herbs for HG management, my guess is that herbs are primarily helpful for women with mild to moderate NVP rather than active HG.
Additionally, I did not use any homeopathic remedies. I have heard of great success for some women using these methods, but I simply have never had any luck using them. I'll leave that for better women than I.
Let's say that I want to try the VLC diet for myself. What steps should I take?
That's a complicated question. Let's break it down into some basic steps.
(1) Leave me your email so that I can send you the diet sheets.
(2) Do your own research to determine if you are comfortable using this diet during pre-conception and/or pregnancy. If you're not, trash it. If you are, head to stage 2 on the diet sheets - the longer the better before conception, at least two cycles but preferably longer.
Again, dear readers, please realize that you assume all risks here. If you are not completely assured of the safety of this diet, do not do it. It's that simple.
(3) Realize that in both life and HG, there are no guarantees. I cannot say that this is guaranteed to work. Thus, make all of your usual preparations for an HG pregnancy. This means:
- Ensure that you have a supportive care provider who is willing to be aggressive with HG treatment.
- Ensure that you have access to needed medications (i.e. Zofran, etc.).
- Do all that you can to ensure the best of pre-conception health: Healing nutritional deficiencies from past HG, addressing current health problems, healthy diet, supplements (like magnesium, fish oil, multi, etc.), sunlight, exercise, etc.
(4) Add in all of the extras - magnesium, fermented foods, pre-conception acupuncture, etc. If you can think of it, add it to your protocol!
This diet is specifically for healing hormonal issues and retraining the body into a different type of metabolism. There are several problems with waiting till a positive test to get started:
(1) This is a very difficult diet to do. Waiting until "panic time" is not a wise idea, as it's difficult enough to learn during normal times!
(2) It takes your body time to heal, normalize, and get used to this diet. I honestly do not know if doing the diet after a positive test would even be effective in HG-prevention. It's always worth a try, and raising dietary protein levels while dropping sugar levels will always be beneficial for NVP sufferers - but it probably won't be enough to circumvent hyperemesis.
(3) Remember that your body is manufacturing pregnancy hormones long before you can get a positive pregnancy test. To do its job properly, the diet must already be well in place at conception, not one to two weeks later at test-time.
(4) Many HG women, myself included, get sick very fast and very early (for me, it's during week 3). This is before a positive test can be obtained. Trying to implement a very difficult diet while already nauseated is not a pleasant proposition - or often times, even a possible one.
Any special notes on how to use this diet?
A couple of notes:
- Do not mistake this diet for a run-of-the-mill low-carb diet. This is not a low-carb diet. This is a VERY-low-carb high-fat diet, and the two cannot be compared. Low-carb may improve NVP levels, but it will not cut it for preventing hyperemesis.
- Make sure that your diet is high fat as well as being very-low-carb. High fat is essential - if you attempt a low-fat low-carb diet, you will have problems with nausea even while not pregnant! The usual guidelines are to have 75-80% of your calories come from healthy fats and less than 5% from carbs.
- I also did my best to avoid industrial seed oils (soybean, cottonseed, etc.) and fake fats (margarine, shortening, etc.) and to focus on healthy fats like saturated animal fats, nuts, avocados, coconut oil, etc.
What if I'm not comfortable using this diet? Is there anything else I can try?
Yes! There are several other options! Check these out:
(1) Check out the fermented foods (H. pylori) method that a friend used to cure her repeat hyperemesis. Give it a try! (And, as I mentioned previously, adding fermented foods to your diet is an excellent thing to do alongside the VLC diet, but it can also be done by itself).
(2) One woman told me (and I've heard from others) that she discovered that sugar triggered her NVP. Cutting all sugars and high-glycemic foods, even if you don't go super-low-carb, is a great option for moderating NVP.
(3) One woman prevented HG-recurrence using the Paleo diet and supplements: Read about it here and here.
(4) Make sure your magnesium levels are good and high pre-conception! Ditto for vitamin D and DHA.
(5) Read this mama's experience and give her ideas a try!
(6) Check out HyperG Pregnancy for more ideas - especially try her free e-book (on the right sidebar) for a lot of excellent information.
(7) Check out Pink Stork Solutions (read her story here) for proven all-natural pre- and post-conception remedies for severe NVP and hyperemesis.
So, how did your use of the VLC diet proceed throughout the pregnancy?
As the nausea lessened over the course of the second trimester, I loosened up a bit more into traditional "low carb" foods that aren't allowed on the VLC diet - like whole milk yogurt, berries, and cottage cheese. From about 30 weeks and onward, I utilized more and more off-plan foods, such as beans and fruit. (It was a matter of realizing that these foods did have a bad effect on my energy and nausea levels, but enjoying them anyway since they were no longer dangerous.)
In the immediate postpartum, I plan to give myself a break between birth and New Year's, or thereabouts - which will be approximately six weeks. May I note that I am immensely grateful that this baby was born just before Thanksgiving and Christmas?? Yum! (Though I know that eating grains will bring back my seasonal allergies - not so fun.) I hope to transition back to the VLC at that point.
There's still so much research to do. While this pregnancy has been amazing (no Zofran!), there is still so much room for improvement. I also need to get back into things that have been neglected over the second half of pregnancy. I want to get back into a good regiment of supplements, and hopefully this time we'll be able to afford them! I also need to restart all of my lacto-fermentation cultures and get back into eating raw fermented foods. I'd also like to start pre-conception acupuncture, continuing after conception.
There is so much room for improvement, and I want to be ever-vigilant in searching for ways to make pregnancy better.
Any final notes?
Yes! HG mamas, I know that many of you out there are doing some awesome research and experimentation in finding what helps YOU to avoid repeat hyperemesis gravidarum. I would LOVE-LOVE-LOVE to hear from you! Please send me your stories, and the information you find, and I will gladly link to it. The answers are out there, and most likely it will be the amateurs - the HG mothers passionate about finding answers - who discover them. I would love to hear from you.
Please also consider joining us in the Facebook group Preventing Hyperemesis Gravidarum. This is an awesome group filled with super-knowledgeable women who are all doing their own research and discussing it. Come on over and join us!
Yes. I'd like to address one common misconception that I've seen. One is, "How can you tell a woman in active hyperemesis to adopt an incredibly difficult diet? Don't you know that hyperemetic women can't eat?"
This diet is emphatically NOT about taking a critically ill woman and telling her to start eating handfuls of walnuts. That is not possible. By the time a woman is in active HG, she is usually unable to eat anything - or at best, only easy-to-eat things that are usually some form of simple carbs. Additionally, strong food aversions usually make eating at will impossible, even if a woman is stable enough to eat solids.
The entire point of this diet is to prepare for pregnancy before conception - preferably as far in advance as possible. If a woman chooses to wait until HG has kicked in to try this... my guess is that it's not going to work. Anything is possible, I suppose, but I don't think there will be a good success rate.
Most of the other methods for NVP prevention are similar - magnesium supplementation, the fermented foods method, etc. They all need to be started pre-conception for best results.
And.... anything else?
One other thing that I have heard is some variation of the following: "You shouldn't tell people about this because someone might try it and it might not work for that woman. You shouldn't give people false hope."
I have considered that.
Actually, I have considered this issue in depth. I do not want to give anyone false hope. And, being an overly sensitive introvert, I strongly shy away from any type of publicity, especially negative publicity - even if it's within a tiny community like the HG community. I have actually considered keeping all of the above information to myself and not mentioning it publicly on my blog - I don't like the attention, and I don't want to lead anyone down the garden path with a method that might not work.
The alternative is ugly. The alternative is that, finding something that worked for me, I keep it to myself out of fear and a dislike of publicity - regardless of how many women could benefit from this knowledge.
I can't do that. And thus, I am publishing this information. And my prayer is that it will benefit many - or even one mama.
(1) THERE. ARE. NO. GUARANTEES.
You might try this and still come down with active HG. I cannot tell you that you will not. I cannot even guarantee that I myself will not experience hyperemesis in a subsequent pregnancy. Please be prepared. Make all of your usual preparations for an HG pregnancy. Find other methods (magnesium, etc.) and add them in too. Do everything you can to avoid HG, but be prepared for recurrence.
(2) Again, if you're not comfortable doing a low-carb pregnancy, DON'T DO IT.
If you're not comfortable being in ketosis, DON'T DO IT.
This article is not a command. It is not a guarantee. It is a simple statement of, "I tried it. It worked for me. Here is the information in hopes that it can be a blessing to someone else."
Does that make sense, everyone? I know I'm repeating myself here, but I think it bears repeating.
Thanks, everyone, for your help, support, and patience! It's been an amazing journey, and it's not over yet. I hope that this information is of help to some of you.
You can check out the podcast where Rachel of HyperG Pregnancy and I discuss VLC diet and hyperemesis here.
You can hear the podcast with Dr. Fox discussing the VLC diet and hyperemesis here.
Polite discussion and honest questions are always welcome! I'll answer any that I can! Please know that I cannot have this blog turned into a war zone, so I will have to quietly delete any comments that are rude, insensitive, hurtful, or combative in nature. Structure your conversations kindly, ladies!
Lots of love, dear friends,
Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical care or advice. Please consult your healthcare provider before undertaking any changes to your pregnancy healthcare. Under no circumstances, shall the author be liable under any theory of recovery for any damages arising out of or in any manner connected with the use of information or documents from the site.