Kate Middleton has reportedly suffered from Hyperemesis gravidarum throughout all three of her pregnancies, but what is it, and can it be cured? Here are ten things you didn’t know about hyperemesis gravidarum.
Eight out of ten pregnant women are affected by nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is the severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. It is one of the most common reasons for pregnant women being admitted to hospital.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is diagnosed when nausea and vomiting in pregnancy continues over a long period of time, and according to The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), it culminates in three significant things; there is a 5% pregnancy weight loss, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
Whereas nausea and vomiting in pregnancy can be managed in the community (primary care setting) with oral anti-emetics or anti-sickness medications, Hyperemesis gravidarum usually requires the pregnant woman to be admitted in hospital. This is as a result of continuous nausea and vomiting and inability to tolerate oral anti-emetics. Therefore other routes of administration are used such as rectally or intravenously.
As we've seen with the Duchess of Cambridge, in women with previous hyperemesis gravidarum and/or a family history, there is a greater risk of recurrence in future pregnancies.
Women affected by hyperemesis gravidarum need more support from healthcare staff. New guidelines from the RCOG say that a woman's quality of life and mental health can be adversely affected by these symptoms.
Women can be sick up to 30 times a day and be bed-bound, often times in isolation. What should be a happy and in some cases long-awaited experience becomes a time of fear, panic, anxiety and extended stays in the hospital.
The condition can be very isolating, pregnant women often have to forego their favourite or usual activities, such as cooking or even talking on the phone for long periods.
Some women terminate, or contemplate terminating pregnancies- even those who have been longing to start a family. That's the severity of the condition.
Over the past year research has shown that there can be negative impact for babies whose mother were severely ill with dehydration and malnourishment during pregnancy. Therefore the myth that however ill the pregnant woman is, the baby will be fine, should be debunked.
Hyperemesis gravidarum not only affects the pregnant woman but the rest of the family also. While the pregnant woman is hospitalised, the mantle falls on the husband or partner and sometimes even the grandparents. In cases of hyperemesis gravidarum, family support in addition to healthcare support is imperative.
By Abigail Morakinyo, nurse and founder of www.healthincheck.co.uk