What Is Hyperemesis Gravidarum? Everything To Know Amy Schumer's Pregnancy Condition

It's a lot worse than just morning sickness.

What Is Hyperemesis Gravidarum? Everything To Know Amy Schumer's Pregnancy Condition Tinseltown/Shutterstock

Last week, Expecting Amy debuted on HBO Max — a three part docuseries that followed comedian Amy Schumer through her pregnancy and the birth of her first son, Gene. But pregnancy definitely wasn't easy for Schumer — she spent most of it very, very sick. 

While many women suffer from what's known as "morning sickness" in the first trimester of their pregnancy (nausea and vomiting that can actually set in any time of the day), what Schumer was suffering from is hyperemesis gravidarum, a much more serious complication. 


What is hyperemesis gravidarum, Amy Schumer's pregnancy condition?

RELATED: 'Expecting Amy' On HBO: 12 Fun Things You Never Knew About Amy Schumer

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is classified as "extreme morning sickness."

Though changing hormone levels often make many pregnant women nauseous, when someone is suffering from HG, they're experiencing very severe nausea and vomiting that leads to weight loss. The true, direct cause of HG is still unknown, but the symptoms are known to show up between 4-6 weeks of pregnancy and usually ease off around 20 weeks, though some women will experience HG for the entire length of their pregnancy. Often, women with HG are unable to keep food down at all and this leads to even more complications, like dehydration and low blood pressure.


It can sometimes lead to hospitalization. 

HG can become so severe that it requires hospitalization to manage symptoms. Some women require IV fluids (much like Schumer did in the documentary) and in some cases, tube feeding.

It's not very common, but it can happen in multiple pregnancies. 

Fortunately, HG is very rare — less than 3% of pregnant women will suffer from this kind of morning sickness. And while there's no guarantee that it will happen again in a subsequent pregnancy, it is more common for women to have HG again if they've had it before ... and so far, there's no way to prevent it from happening.

It can cause serious complications for the pregnancy. 


Some women who suffer from HG will also face complications that can be dangerous to not only them but also the baby. Some women lose 5% of their body weight, and being unable to stay hydrated and keep food down can lead to loss of kidney function, weakened muscles, and low levels of minerals in the body, which can cause dizziness and weakness. In truly severe cases, HG can lead to neurological issues as well as gastrointestinal problems like damage to the esophagus from vomiting and digestive dysfunction. 

There are ways to ease the symptoms. 

Those with HG can try to mitigate the symptoms by doing things like eating smaller meals, staying hydrated, and taking vitamin B6. Anti-nausea drugs may also be prescribed, including promethazine and meclizine. The good news? The symptoms will be gone after birth, if not before.

RELATED: Who Is Amy Schumer's Sister? Meet Kim Caramele, Who's Featured On HBO Docuseries 'Expecting Amy'


Schumer has been open about her illness. 

Even before Expecting Amy, Schumer has shared her journey with HG on Instagram, posting photos of herself in the hospital receiving IV fluids. Now, more than a year out, Schumer seems to be loving life as a mom — and fortunately HG is behind her.


RELATED: Is Senator Chuck Schumer Related To Amy Schumer?

Nicole Pomarico is an entertainment and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in Cosmo, Us Weekly, Refinery29, and more.