Hyperemesis gravidarum is a serious side effect of pregnancy that results in extreme nausea and frequent vomiting. Simply looking at food can cause nausea, making it extremely difficult to consume enough food to keep a pregnant woman and fetus healthy throughout pregnancy. Kate Middleton, the 31-year-old Duchess of Cambridge, was admitted to King Edward VII hospital with extreme morning sickness in December. There she was given the diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarum. Though the condition is more common in twin pregnancies, doctors have ruled out twins. 

Symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum

The most common and reported symptom of hyperemesis gravidarum is constant and extreme nausea and vomiting. Other symptoms may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration
  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Weight Loss
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Fainting
  • Jaundice

Hyperemesis Gravidarum and hCG

It is thought that high levels of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) are associated with the condition. Higher than normal hCG levels are associated with twin pregnancies and molar pregnancies, both of which have been ruled out in Kate Middleton’s case.

Traditional Therapies for Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Up to 80% of pregnant women suffer some sort of morning sickness. Traditional morning sickness is typically characterized by infrequent nausea with occasional vomiting and occasional dehydration. The symptoms typically subside after 12 weeks of pregnancy.  In cases of hyperemesis gravidarum, nausea is severe and persistent, often lasting well beyond the first trimester. Women can experience severe vomiting and dangerous dehydration, posing risk to the pregnancy.

Traditional treatments for hyperemesis gravidarum include bed rest, IV fluids, tube feedings and medications to reduce acids in the stomach. When traditional methods do not provide relief, alternative methods like acupressure and hypnosis may provide relief.

Hypnotherapy Seems to be Working for the Duchess of Cambridge

In addition to consuming whole, healthy foods like oatmeal, avocados, and berries, the Duchess has reportedly begun hypnotherapy sessions to reduce anxiety around food. According to a source close to Kate, simply looking at food makes her nauseous and the condition has caused her stomach to shrink so she is unable to consume whole meals before feeling full.

Treatments appear to be working for Middleton as she was recently spotted at a local Starbucks ordering a decaf coffee and cookie with her dog Lupo. Though she was put on bed rest after her diagnosis, the Duchess reportedly walked to the Starbucks on her own and swiped a Starbucks card to pay for the purchase.

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