As I was checking my usual world news sites this morning, I was about to skip over yet another article about Kate Middleton and Prince William’s recently announced pregnancy when something caught my eye. The story mentioned Middleton’s hospital stay, which at first glance seemed alarming early on in the pregnancy. Upon further reading, I learned that Middleton has been cancelling numerous engagements as she recovers from a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. I was shocked both at the fact that she was experiencing problems so early in her gestation and the fact that so few news outlets would expand upon the severity of the condition. That’s when I decided to research it myself.

It turns out there’s a reason no one is too concerned about her condition. Hyperemesis gravidarum is essentially exaggerated morning sickness. Most women experience morning sickness at some point during their pregnancy, but those that experience hyperemesis gravidarum must stay at the hospital so that they don’t become dehydrated. While nearly 80% of women will have morning sickness, only 20% will be hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent the condition. If you have morning sickness that causes you to vomit severely, there’s a chance you might have hyperemesis gravidarum. When severe, the vomiting can interfere with your ability to keep food and liquids down, which is obviously a serious problem when you’re trying to eat and drink for two. If you do think you might have the condition, you should check with your doctor, as he or she might suggest that you are hospitalized until the illness passes. Without an IV of fluids and certain medications, you could risk your health and that of your baby. Other long-term treatments might include bed rest, acupuncture and herbal remedies such as ginger and peppermint, which are all also treatments for regular morning sickness.

If you come down with hyperemesis gravidarum, at least you can seek consolation in the fact that you share a condition with Duchess Kate Middleton. However, you’ll probably be uncomfortable until it subsides. Most cases first show up around week five of the pregnancy, but get especially severe at week ten or eleven. By the twentieth week the condition will have subsided completely, but there is a long span of time when symptoms are severe and inconvenient Luckily, with proper treatment and care, you and the baby will be unharmed.

Source: JK Jueckstock et al: Managing Hyperemesis Gravidarum. First Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Volume 8 Issue 46 2010