The British Royal Family announced Monday the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton is expecting her third child. Officials at Kensington Palace also said that Middleton, 35 is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, the same condition she faced when she was pregnant with her first two children.
The condition is a form of severe morning sickness. While morning sickness is characterized by nausea, vomiting, and fatigue, doctors say hyperemesis gravidarum is far worse, and symptoms are heavier than a typical morning sickness.
About 80 percent of women experience morning sickness during their pregnancies, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
The Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant with her third child
Middleton already suffered hyperemesis gravidarum during her pregnancy of her son, Prince George, and her daughter, Princess Charlotte. The condition can be quite severe, and symptoms range from weight loss of 5 percent of more of pre-pregnancy weight, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, decrease in urination, headaches, low blood pressure, secondary depression or anxiety, confusion, fainting, and fatigue. Women with HG are often hospitalized or have to stay at home for months, without being able to work.
While morning sickness typically lasts after the first trimester, HG can often last until late pregnancy. Dr. Jennifer Ashton, an OB/GYN told ABC News in 2014 –when the Duchess was pregnant with her daughter- that comparing HG to morning sickness is “like a hurricane is a little bit of rain.”
Caitlin Dean, a chairperson of the UK’s Pregnancy Sickness Support, who has suffered HG herself three times, told People that the condition often re-appears with another pregnancy.
“A lot of people go into the second pregnancy hoping that it will not happen again, thinking HG will be one pregnancy and that every pregnancy is different,” Dean told People. “But once you have it twice, that delusion is pretty much blown out of the water. So you have to prepare and be ready for this.”
Dean added that, in fact, for some women symptoms actually get worse each time.
Preparation is essential for women with hyperemesis gravidarium
The condition is treatable, either at the hospital or at home. The American Pregnancy Association says the most common forms of treatments are intravenous fluids to restore vitamins, nutrients, hydration, and electrolytes in the mother’s body, as well as tube feeding and medications – such as anti-reflux medication.
Women with HG are told to rest a lot, even though the condition typically lasts 16 to 20 weeks. Dean says that women who have undergone HG and are pregnant again should be prepared to feel the symptoms again
“Preparing makes a huge amount of difference,” she said. “What we suspect from experience is that if you prepare, you can start pre-emptive treatment and can prepare your household and your finances. The average woman doesn’t have the life that Kate has with people to cook meals and people to do their cleaning for them and look after their children.”