Sickness in pregnancy is common – around seven out of every 10 expectant mothers experience nausea, vomiting or both.
For most women, this improves or disappears completely by around week 14. But in one per cent of pregnancies, it can persist and be more serious.
Women who suffer the same morning sickness illness as The Duchess of Cambridge – who announced her third pregnancy yesterday – have shared their shocking stories of suffering hyperemesis gravidarum (HG).
This includes one who threw up 42 times in a day and another who considered terminating her baby.
HG often needs hospital treatment and in extreme cases can be deadly.
It is considered to be the second leading cause of hospitalisation during pregnancy and can lead to dehydration – dangerous to both the mother and child.
If dehydration does strike, babies are at risk of deformities because the constant vomiting can deprive the woman’s body of amniotic fluid – which the baby needs to thrive.
Here four women speak out about how HG blighted their pregnancies…
Victoria Hopkins, pictured with her husband Scott, says medication has reduced her vomiting from hyperemesis gravidarum from up to 42 times a day to five
WHAT IS HG?
Excessive nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), and often needs hospital treatment.
Unlike regular morning sickness, HG may not get better by 14 weeks.
It may not clear up completely until the baby is born, although some symptoms may improve at around 20 weeks.
Some pregnant women be sick many times a day and be unable to keep food or drink down, which can have a negative effect on their daily life.
Exactly how many pregnant women get HG is not known as some cases may go unreported, but it’s thought to be around 1 in every 100.
Signs and symptoms of HG include prolonged and severe nausea and vomiting, dehydration and low blood pressure.
Source: NHS Choices
‘Vomiting 42 times a day made me consider terminating my baby’
Victoria Hopkins – currently four months pregnant with a boy – was forced to shut down her business because of her severe morning sickness, which has made her sick up to 42 times a day.
The 33-year-old, of Gomersal, West Yorkshire, revealed she considered terminating her pregnancy at one stage, as her morning sickness was so severe.
Now, it is under control but, despite being pregnant, she is taking a chemotherapy tablet, Ondansetron, typically used to treat cancer patients, to ease her nausea.
‘HG is not ‘morning sickness’,’ said Victoria, who is married to engineer Scott, 38. ‘It’s much worse.
‘I have felt so ill that there have been times when I’ve considered having a termination,’ said the mother of two.
‘During the worst day of my pregnancy, I vomited 42 times. A typical bad day is between 10 to 20 times.
‘Now I’m taking tablets and normally being sick between five and 10 times a day.’
Victoria’s two boys – Grayson, six, and Jaxon, four – have a different biological father to her current baby and she did not have HG when she was carrying them.
‘I think I wasn’t sick with the first two pregnancies as they had a different dad,’ she said. ‘But from five weeks with this one I’ve been sick non-stop.’
The 33-year-old, from West Yorkshire, believes she wasn’t sick with her first two pregnancies as they had a different fathers
Victoria, who was referred to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, when she was seven weeks pregnant, was severely dehydrated.
She had six litres of fluid replenished via a cannula and was given injections of Ondansetron and Cyclizine, anti-sickness medications, into her bottom.
Diagnosed with HG at seven weeks she was forced to close her business making casts of babies’ hands for new parents.
‘I couldn’t go to work,’ she explained. ‘It was too difficult. It’s temporary though.’
Since her initial diagnosis, Victoria has been admitted to hospital a further five times.
‘I’ve had my fluids replenished,’ she explained.
The chemotherapy drug has made her feel better. ‘I can eat a bit again,’ she said. ‘At this point, I don’t think I would have another baby, but you never know.’
She’s hopeful the sickness will go when her son, due on February 4, arrives.
‘I can’t believe Kate Middleton is pregnant again,’ she said. ‘It’s horrible.
‘But I want people to realise that it’s not just her – women suffer this every day.’
‘I’d vomit up to 10 times a day and started to hallucinate’
Lee-Anne Willis, 37, of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, says her morning sickness was so severe she wouldn’t have another baby.
The dental hygienist, married to marketing manager Rob, 37, was struck down by hyperemesis gravidarum, before she even realised she was expecting Matthew, now aged 10 months.
Despite being obsessed with healthy eating and nutrition – and intending to fill up on fresh, organic veg throughout her pregnancy – she survived on pickled onion flavour Monster Munch and white bread.
Lee-Anne Willis began suffering from hyperemesis gravidaru even before she realised she was pregnant with Matthew, now aged 10 months
‘Bizarrely, these were the only things I could manage,’ she said. ‘I’d wanted to eat organic veg and fill myself with healthy snacks.
‘But I ended up barely able to eat. When I did eat, it was just Monster Munch.
‘I’d vomit up to 10 times a day, and felt sick non-stop. I lost a stone in all, while most people put on weight during pregnancy.’
Lee-Anne, who met Rob in her 30s developed HG incredibly early in her pregnancy.
She said: ‘Two days before I did a positive pregnancy test, I started feeling sick – and it continued for the next nine months.
She was admitted to King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire numerous times.
Matthew was born healthy, weighing 6lb 14oz – but Lee-Anne says he will be her last
While pregnant with Matthew Lee-Anne had to take anti-sickness drugs given to chemotherapy patients
HOW THIS CONDITION COULD PREDICT YOUR BABY’S GENDER
Last year, researchers found those with extreme morning sickness may be less likely to give birth to sons.
According to New Scientist, one theory is the Trivers-Willard hypothesis which suggests when times are good, it is best to have a son.
However, in tough times, a daughter is safer for a mother to pass on her genes to as weaker males are less likely to succeed.
Given a third of pregnancies with HG result in miscarriage, this could help to explain why fewer boys are born to women with the condition, the study said.
‘At my worst – at 20 weeks – I was put on Cyclizine, a medication for nausea, but I started to hallucinate because of it,’ she said.
Lee-Anne can’t remember what she hallucinated, only that she was delirious.
‘It was terrifying – I was alone and scared in hospital,’ she admitted. ‘But the sickness was not the worst part – it was the constant, relentless nausea.
‘I’d not had a baby before and, initially, I didn’t know that the sickness I was experiencing was not normal.
‘But my husband eventually said it wasn’t. He took me to hospital, where I had IV drips to replenish my fluids and it was there that my diagnosis was confirmed.’
Later in her pregnancy, she was given Ondansetron tablets – anti-sickness drugs given to chemotherapy patients – to make her feel better.
At 40 weeks and four days her boy, Matthew, arrived on November 19, 2016, happy and healthy, weighing 6lb 14oz.
After her placenta was delivered, her relentless sickness vanished.
‘I was so, so glad,’ she said. ‘But, I wouldn’t have another baby. I admire Kate Middleton, but her support network is so strong – and she has the best care in the world.’
‘I vomited up to 35 times a day’
Elysia Munday, 26, suffered morning sickness so severe during her first pregnancy with her son Dexter, now four, she ended up hospitalised in the first weeks of her second pregnancy after vomiting up to 35 times a day.
Now 10 weeks pregnant with her second child, the sales and events manager, from Weymouth, Dorset, collapsed at work and had to be signed off work as her condition meant she was spending most of the day in the toilet instead of at her desk.
Elysia Munday is so ill with HG that she has been signed off work after she collapsed
During her first pregnancy, travelling in the car caused such severe nausea that meant constantly having to pull over on the hard shoulder and on one occasion, when a police officer stopped to check on her, she vomited over him.
She explained: ‘With my first, I was very poorly. I never got diagnosed with HG but I think when I compare it to now, it was the same. I thought it was normal – I don’t think I realised that most people aren’t like that.
‘The worst was when we pulled over in the layby and a police officer came over, I went to say yes but instead just vomited everywhere.
‘I just had to keep saying sorry and explain that it was really severe morning sickness.’
After collapsing at work after she fell pregnant with her second child, by team leader Jordan, 21, she was so severely dehydrated she was hospitalised.
She was officially diagnosed with the condition and given a drip and anti-sickness medication.
‘It is one of those conditions where you go into recovery for a day and you think you have beaten it and then you go into relapse,’ she explained.
‘I am being sick at least five or six times but at the worst, I have my head in the toilet for solid hours. I think the worst day I logged was 35 times in one day. I spend most of the day at the toilet or with a sick bowl in my hand.
The 26-year-old revealed she has had her head in the toilet ‘for solid hours’
‘I had to be signed off work. I was severely dehydrated at my last check-up. I wasn’t keeping fluids or food down. I absolutely love my food and I am craving it but I know when I eat it, it will come straight back up.’
Elysia vomits throughout the day and night, affecting her work, sleep and caring for her little boy.
‘I have had to ask for help from my friends to help me through the day. He is starting school this week and I want to give him attention but I have no energy. I am being sick through the night because I’m not getting any sleep.
‘I barely have enough energy to even get out of bed. People say “oh it’s just morning sickness” but it’s a completely different condition. Morning sickness means being sick a few times a day but this completely takes control of your whole life.
‘I have to plan my life around where the nearest toilet is. If I go into town, I have to think about where I can go. I get really embarrassed by it. I avoid going out as much as I can.
‘I think Kate is such a brave woman to have gone through this twice and is willing to go through it again. She needs to be out and about so it’s not like she can easily go somewhere if she is caught short.’
‘I wished I’d never decided to have another baby’
Carrie Rivlin, 40, lives in Leeds, West Yorkshire, with her husband, psychologist Edward, 42, and their three children, Benjy, nine, Chloë, six, and Erin, who is nearly two.
After experiencing bad morning sickness with her first two children, the PR consultant was expecting to suffer, when she and Edward, 42, decided to have a third child.
But by the time she was five weeks pregnant, it was so severe, she was unable to work and sobbed on her GP, telling him she could not cope.
Diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum by six-and-a-half weeks pregnant, she was on her third type of medication, Promethazine, a drug to control nausea and vomiting, which finally kept her dehydration under control.
Carrie said: ‘There were times when I felt so ill, I found myself wishing I’d never decided to have another baby, as I felt I couldn’t go on.
By nine weeks pregnant, Carrie Rivlin had lost a stone from feeling too sick to eat
‘My medication meant I was able to drink enough for me to need to go to the toilet once a day and, thankfully, that kept me out of hospital.
‘But I could barely eat anything at all. I had constant, severe nausea – the kind that you get in the few moments before you vomit, when you have a tummy bug, but it was always there.
‘I’d dry-retch a lot, too. By nine weeks, I’d lost a stone from feeling too sick to eat and the day after I gave birth, I weighed half a stone less than my pre-pregnancy weight.’
Working from home meant Carrie was able to take time off until she could work on a lap top in bed, from about 18 weeks.
She did try stopping her medication at 26 weeks, but was so ill, she had to go back on it.
She continued: ‘I can see why people end up terminating. If I’d needed to go to work to pay the mortgage, I couldn’t have done it.’
Carrie admits that she missed out on her children’s lives during this time.
She recalled: ‘It was difficult for me to have them near me, because I didn’t have the energy.
‘Also, so many smells set off my nausea, sometimes it happened even with them.
‘I couldn’t read stories to my children, as it was too much of a physical effort. I couldn’t have a shower, as the effort of standing up for that long was too great.
‘And anything touching me and the feeling of water constantly dropping on me was too much to bear.
‘I just had to lie in bed and sleep.’
The 40-year-old said she lost interest in her children Benjy, nine, Chloë, six, and Erin, who is nearly two and wouldn’t have coped without the support of husband Edward
If it had not been for her husband and her mother, Carrie says she would never have coped.
‘I sort of lost interest in my other two children because of HG,’ she said.
‘I did disappear from their lives for a couple of months and I worried in case this had an effect on them and they were resentful of their little sister.
‘I was so poorly that my husband would leave me in bed with the TV remote control and if it was just out of reach, I wouldn’t bother with it. It just wasn’t worth the additional nausea it took to stretch and get it.’
Fortunately, Carrie had read enough about HG to know that while the mother suffered, her baby was unlikely to be harmed.
She said: ‘I wasn’t worried about my baby. I knew a lot about HG and I knew she was growing.’
The day after giving birth, Carrie recovered. ‘I hadn’t been able to have hot drinks throughout my pregnancy, but I remember having a cup of tea the day after having my baby and being amazed that it was fine,’ she said.
‘I do admire Kate Middleton for having a third baby when she knows she is prone to it, as if this had happened in my first pregnancy, I would have found it very difficult to get my head around having any more kids.’
‘KATE IS SO BRAVE’ SAYS MOTHER WHO WAS SICK 40 TIMES A DAY FOR NINE MONTHS
A mother-of-two who suffered from HG spoke out this morning on Lorraine
A mother-of-two who was sick up to 40 times a day for nine months has praised Kate Middleton for having another child despite her previous experience with HG.
Jen Burner shared her experience on TV show Lorraine this morning and revealed how she eat as little as half a cracker a week.
‘You are sick up to 30-40 times a day,’ she said. ‘You can’t function. It is not morning sickness.
‘You are existing on half a cracker a week. Go into hospital and put you on a drip.
Jen Burner (right) and Dr Ellie Cannon (left) discuss the illness and say Kate is ‘incredibly brave’
‘I was really worried [about having another baby]. I knew what was coming. I sought out the right treatment.’
She says the good thing about the Duchess having the condition is that it’s helping raising awareness of it.
‘Both cases at 16 weeks I was offered terminations. Because your body is shutting down…’ she said.
‘The only way to treat it Is to give birth, essentially to get rid of.’
Dr Ellie Cannon said: ‘It is the most common reason for a woman to be admitted to hospital during pregnancy.
‘Would you ever? Not for me having three, I think she is incredibly brave.
‘In my case I couldn’t be a mother, I couldn’t be a friend, I couldn’t be a wife for nine months. She is still up against it for the next 16 weeks.
‘You get comments like you brought it on yourself.’