The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton recently announced her third pregnancy – and with it, her third experience of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). HG is a condition that has the potential to take a very real emotional and physical toll on a pregnant woman.
With the recent news that Kate Middleton and Prince William are expecting their third child, the World Wide Web was quickly a-buzz with messages of congratulations and excitement for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
While the official press release from Kensington Palace noted that the Queen and members of both families are ‘delighted with the news’, it also mentioned one other important detail: that Kate is once more suffering Hyperemesis Gravidarum – just as she did while pregnant with George, 4, and Charlotte, 2.
This single detail of the Duchess’ pregnancy drew sympathy from all over the world, with countless Tweets and Facebook messages commenting on Kate’s condition:
“Very brave to go through hyperemesis for a 3rd time! Congrats”
“Let’s describe it as violent morning sickness… all day long. Constant feeling of vertigo & nausea… She is braver than me!”
“I suffered from Hyperemesis in both pregnancies… still had to go to work… not easy when you have 24 hrs a day morning sickness”
“My heart goes out to Kate to have to go through HG again! May it pass quickly!”
While many people expressed sympathy for the Duchess and her suffering Hyperemesis Gravidarum for a third time, it’s clear there are many women who have been in her shoes and know just what it’s like.
If you know someone with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or have it yourself, it’s important to note that it can negatively impact a woman’s emotional wellbeing as well as her physical health.
Any pregnant woman experiencing severe morning sickness requires extra special care to help her feel better – both physically and emotionally.
Here are five of the most common FAQs about Hyperemesis Gravidarum, and tips on how you might support a loved one with HG:
1. What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
Roughly seven out of 10 women experience nausea or vomiting during pregnancy, but Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is an acute form of morning sickness that effects an estimated one in 100 women.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum can leave a woman feeling sick or vomiting any time of day – multiple times a day – and in some cases can last for the entire pregnancy. In some cases, it can require hospital treatments or stays to avoid dehydration due to excessive nausea and vomiting. It’s estimated that 30 per cent of working pregnant women take time off due to symptoms of nausea and vomiting, and that one in 100-150 are admitted to hospital to be treated for HG.
2. What are the physical symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
Many women with morning sickness will start to feel better some time towards the end of the first trimester and the beginning of the second (around week 14).
HG, however, may go on for the entire pregnancy, and some women have reported throwing up as often as 50 times a day. Symptoms can include:
- Excessive and severe nausea and vomiting
- Dehydration due to difficulty keeping food and fluids down
- Weight loss
- Excessive saliva production
- Low blood pressure when standing
- Ketosis, a serious condition that occurs when the body uses fat for energy rather than glucose, and leads to a build up of acidic chemicals in the mother’s blood and urine.
Experiencing any of the above symptoms requires a prompt assessment by a GP or midwife for a proper diagnosis and to rule out other possible causes of such symptoms. To avoid dehydration and weight loss in particular, the earlier an appointment is made the better,
3. Does it affect the growing baby?
In most cases, hyperemesis gravidarum will not harm the baby, once the condition is properly treated. For women who lose weight as a result of HG, there may be an increased risk that the baby will have a low birth weight.
4. Can it affect my mental health?
When a woman thinks of becoming pregnant, she might anticipate glowing skin and a general feeling of blossoming and blooming and feeling excited about growing a precious little person with 10 little fingers, 10 chubby toes and the cutest button nose. So when a woman is so ill due to Hyperemesis Gravidarum that she can’t enjoy her pregnancy, it’s can have a harmful impact on a woman’s state of mind and her mental health.
A woman might feel nervous about going to work or bed, worried about how she’ll get through the day, angered that this has happened to her, think no one understands just how tough it is and worry that she won’t be able to cope if it continues.
All these thoughts and experiences should be shared with a GP as well as loved ones, as treatment and support will help a woman through it.
5. What can you do to help your partner/friend/family member when they have it?
Partners, family and friends of someone suffering with HG can feel a bit hopeless and helpless, but there are plenty of supportive things you can do. Here are a few quick, simple and effective ideas:
- Accompany her to appointments to see her GP or midwife
- Look after everyday tasks on her behalf, such as laundry, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning the bathroom
- Listen to her and be a supportive shoulder to lean on
- Offer to take care of older children from time to time so she can rest
- Check in with her often – via text, email or a quick phone call – so she feels understood, supported and not alone
Do you have experience with Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
What, if anything, helped you feel better – emotionally and physically? Share your tips and advice with other mums and parents on the Moment Health community page – www.facebook.com/groups/momentcommunity.
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The Moment Health app has been developed with clinicians and healthcare professionals. It screens for perinatal, postnatal and associated anxieties, and includes additional features such as a helpful guide to practical and accessible coping strategies.
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