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The royal pain of hyperemesis gravidarum

As the world was buzzing about Kate Middleton’s hospitalization for hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) — severe morning sickness —  in the very early stages of her royal pregnancy, Holly Madison announced she, too, was suffering from it in her seventh month.

HG isn’t just for princesses
Kate Middleton and Prince William leave the hospital

Is “severe” morning sickness real, or is it the new “exhaustion” for the rich and famous? Let’s face it, many moms-to-be have HG — it’s just not headline news. You don’t have to be a princess or a Playboy model to suffer from this all-too-real — and pretty miserable — pregnancy condition.

If news of Kate Middleton‘s hospitalization for severe morning sickness had you running to kiss the toilet — if you even made it that far — you’re not alone. Many moms suffer from morning sickness — nausea and sometimes vomiting during pregnancy (NVP).

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Morning sickness 101

No one knows for sure what causes morning sickness, but there may be triggers. Miriam Erick, a registered dietician and author of the book, Managing Morning Sicknesssays, “In my experience there are some background triggers which seem to make NVP worse — smells, motion, noise, hot humid climates, cold damp climates — have to close windows so smells stay in — bright lights, constipation, fatigue/sleep deprivation, altered electrolytes and hunger.”

Any kind of morning sickness can be a drag, but if you have hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) it’s much worse, and can pose risks to you and your baby.

HG — yes, it’s real

And it’s really miserable — not just the disease itself, but how people may just brush off severe morning sickness as being all in their head while telling her to eat a couple of crackers, drink some ginger ale and get on with the day.

More about hyperemesis gravidarum >>

Kimber MacGibbon, RN, director of education for the Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation, explains, “Women are not exaggerating when they say they vomit endlessly until dehydrated, despite their best attempts to drink and eat. When women are this sick, they do not need to be pushed to eat, continue working full- or even part-time, or to try and tough it out or will it away. You know that is simply not possible. Fighting HG only worsens it. They need those around them to rally support and ensure proper medical care so the mother can rest and have the best chance at surviving HG with a healthy baby.”

What to do if you think it’s HG

Don’t be embarrassed. Don’t shrug it off. Call your doctor and midwife — it’s not all in your head. If you’re unable to keep any food or drink down, the nausea and vomiting won’t stop, and you’ve lost more than 5 percent of your pre-pregnancy body weight, it’s likely HG. Just like Kate, you may need to go to the hospital to receive IV fluids, and possibly be admitted for a few days or more. “There is no substitute for fluids,” Erick says.

When HG is no longer in the news

Now that the Princess is out of the hospital — and hopefully not experiencing severe morning sickness as much anymore — people shouldn’t forget about hyperemesis gravidarum. “We hope she will be open about her experience and care so that when the beautiful baby is born healthy, women will feel more confident requesting needed treatment from their health professionals, and health professionals will take the initiative to learn more for the benefit of their patients,” says MacGibbon.

Image courtesy

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