Erin - posted on 11/08/2010 ( 10 moms have responded )
For those of you who don't know, Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is the severe, debilitating and at times life-threatening chronic nausea and vomiting affecting some women in pregnancy. It is not standard morning sickness, or even 'bad' morning sickness. It is on another level completely.
From Wiki: When HG is severe and/or inadequately treated, it may result in:
Loss of 5% or more of pre-pregnancy body weight
Dehydration, causing ketosis and constipation
Altered sense of taste
Sensitivity of the brain to motion
Food leaving the stomach more slowly
Rapidly changing hormone levels during pregnancy
Stomach contents moving back up from the stomach
Physical and emotional stress of pregnancy on the body
Subconjunctival hemorrhage (broken blood vessels in the eyes)
Difficulty with daily activities
It can also lead to organ failure and even death. Some women require NG tubes or PICC lines for nutritional support, or become so ill they are forced to terminate much-wanted pregnancies.
Mainstream treatments for this horrific condition include anti-emetics (often Zofran, which is used to treat side-effects of chemo) and regular IV fluids and electrolytes for rehydration. But there is an underground movement of women utilising the medicinal properties of marijuana to gain relief from HG. Marijuana's anti-nausea properties are well-known, but there are no clinical trials done on the effectiveness or safety for the baby due to the ethical implication of exposing the fetus to potential harm.
The use of marijuana to treat HG is often justified by the fact that the current prescription drugs are not risk-free for pregnancy. Most agree that it is unwise to smoke it (for the same reasons cigarettes are bad) but use it in cooking or as a tincture. Some have the opinion that it is the lesser of two evils... the risk associated with the marijuana or the risk of complications to both mother and baby from HG.
I have a personal interest in this topic. My maternal grandmother, aunt and mother all had HG. My Mum spent both pregnancies in and out of hospital. She was so sick while pregnant with my younger brother that I basically had to live with my grandparents. After my brother was born, her doctor told her to get her tubes tied because she could not risk another pregnancy. HG has a strong genetic component, so when I found out I was pregnant I was also filled with dread. Though somehow I managed to escape the HG-curse of my mother's family.
I will admit I'm torn on this issue. Because of my family history, part of me can completely understand a desperate pregnant mumma resorting to marijuana in a bid to maintain her pregnancy. Then there's that little voice that says no way.
So what do you think about the role of marijuana in treating HG? Do you have any experience with the condition? Would you consider it if none of the mainstream treatments worked?