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Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, speaks with students during a visit to St Andrew's School, where she studied between 1986 and 1995/AFP

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Hyperemesis gravidarum: no ordinary morning sickness

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Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, speaks with students during a visit to St Andrew’s School, where she studied between 1986 and 1995/AFP

LONDON, Dec 4 – For anyone who has had hyperemesis gravidarum, the pregnancy-induced vomiting that has caused Prince William’s wife Kate to be hospitalised, the term “morning sickness” is way off the mark.

“When you’re vomiting 30 to 40 times a day and admitted to hospital, it’s a completely different complication of pregnancy,” said Rachel Treagust, 28, who suffered from HG, as it is known, with all three of her children.

She told AFP she was “literally bed-bound, in the dark, no TV, no smells or food around. you can’t even swallow your own saliva, that’s how horrific it is”.

Morning sickness – formally called nausea and vomiting in pregnancy – affects around 30 percent of women in early pregnancy, according to Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

But only about one in 200 pregnant women is affected by a severe form known by the Latin term of hyperemesis gravidarum, according to the state-run National Health Service.

Hospitalisation is needed in severe cases to treat dehydration with intravenous fluids for a few days, as it is impossible to keep fluids down.

Treagust suffered in silence with her first child, a boy, but with her second, a girl, she was admitted to hospital several times.

She was put on a drip and given intravenous anti-sickness drugs and steroids, which improved her condition. But she said it wasn’t long before she would get ill once again and have to go back into hospital.

“It’s like a cycle,” she said. Her condition generally improved four to five months into her pregnancies, but it wasn’t until she gave birth that it completely cleared up.

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“The first time I didn’t understand the condition. I didn’t know that I needed to go to a doctor so I just laid in bed for a couple of months, sipping water. I tried to get by,” Treagust said.

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