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What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum? Kate Middleton’s severe morning sickness explained

Today the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced they were expecting their third child. As thrilled as Kate will no doubt be to be pregnant with a brother or sister for Prince George and Princess Charlotte, she will have something else on her mind: Hyperemesis gravidum.

The duchess is known to suffer from this harrowing condition that had her hospitalised while carrying her first born.

The Palace has confirmed that Kate is once again suffering from the extreme form of morning sickness, saying: “As with her previous two pregnancies, the Duchess is suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum.”

 But this condition is not widely known by many, who confuse it with morning sickness. Here, we asked pediatric expert Dr Tamara Bugembe to shed some light on it.

What is Hyperemesis gravidum?

The chances of developing Hyperemesis gravidum for most women is less than 1 per cent. But if, like Kate, you suffered with it in a previous pregnancy, your chances of having it again in subsequent pregnancy shoot up to 15 per cent.

Most women vomit during pregnancy, when should I see my GP?

If untreated hyperemesis gravidum can affect the baby’s growth, cause premature birth and can make a mother’s blood so thick and sticky it can form blood clots. Feeling sick all the time can also lead someone into a depression and so talking about how the nausea is affecting your mood and energy is also important.

How is Hyperemesis gravidum treated?

In its early phase, eating small frequent bland meals is thought to help keep the worst of the symptoms at bay. Ginger in raw, capsules or biscuit form, has been shown in several small studies to improve nausea in women suffering from hyperemesis gravidum. Acupressure, particularly Nei-Guan point pressure, has also been studied and found to be effective in decreasing nausea and vomiting.

Natural approaches are often favoured because of the risks certain medicines can pose to the developing baby. There are a list of anti- sickness medications that have been studied and found to be safe. The response to the medications on this list can vary so much, that it can involve some trial and error before the right treatment can be found. If the first treatment doesn’t work after a couple of weeks, don’t lose hope. Let your GP know and stay open to trying a different mediation.

Certain vitamins, such as Thiamine (Vitamin B1) can be depleted by the persistent vomiting. During pregnancy the body has higher demand for these vitamins and so a discussion with your GP about replacing the nutrients lost by vomiting is also important. B6 supplements though not thoroughly studied are also said to have a positive effect on nausea.

It may take a few visits to your GPs, but keeping open and honest communication and being willing to try different approaches may are the keys to making it through hyperemesis gravidum.


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