Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Acute morning sickness

Published:Monday | September 15, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Britain's Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, holds Prince George during a visit to Plunket nurse and parents group at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand, earlier this year.
Britain's Prince William (right) and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge pose for the media with George, the Prince of Cambridge, outside St Mary's Hospital.
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Jody-Anne Lawrence, Lifestyle Reporter

Last week, news came that the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton is pregnant with her second child. Unfortunately, once again she is afflicted by Hyperemesis Gravidarum -acute morning sickness.

Many women experience morning sickness between the first three to 15 weeks of their pregnancy. The name does not truly reflect the illness that leaves some women dehydrated and completely exhausted.

"The name itself is a misnomer because this is not something that women only experience in the morning. They can experience it any time of the day or for the entire day," explains obstetrician and gynaecologist (OBGYN) Chris-Ann Simpson-Harley.

This was the truth for Tickoya Joseph, who suffered from this illness during her entire pregnancy, which is an extreme case since the symptoms should decrease by the end of 15 weeks. Joseph told Flair that she had lost 11 pounds in the first three months of her pregnancy.

Dr Simpson Harley notes, "Do not assume that it is morning sickness and say that you are going to watch it. You need to consult your doctor to ensure that they rule out any other illnesses and give you tips on how you can maintain or control vomiting during pregnancy."

Joseph admitted that she did this after feeling the nausea three weeks into her pregnancy, but this did not prevent the illness from getting worse.

"I went to the doctor and she gave me Gravol to help with the nausea. I tried everything that I was told - to drink ginger ale, avoid greasy foods and drink lots of water or coconut water to keep hydrated - but that did not help. I could not hold down anything, not even water," said Joseph.

She had to visit the doctor twice a week to get hydration through intravenous (IV) fluid, up until her seventh week when her doctor admitted her. For the next two weeks that she was hospitalised, she was unable to eat anything and was constantly on IV.

"I was getting so much fluid that the 'site' was so swollen, the fluid would stop coming in at that site. So, twice a day, I had to be 're-sited'. Then it got so bad that there was nowhere left in my hand to stick me," recalls Joseph. "They wanted to try and stick me in my leg when they ran out of places in my arm to give me the IV. My doctor, however, advised against that."

She was determined to fight, so when the doctor had suggested that they might take the baby, she was adamant that that was not an option. So, instead, they tried one last medication. "I do not remember the name of the medication, but they gave me something that they said that they only give to mental patients," she said.

After getting this medication, she was ready to go home, and survived the rest of her pregnancy on limited foods, vomiting throughout the pregnancy and labour.

"I threw up all through the caesarean," said Joseph. In spite of this difficult pregnancy, Joseph has a beautiful active baby girl that keeps her on her toes.

This severe case is not something that many women experience, but there are quite a few that are affected with morning sickness from a mild to moderate stage. There are a few that do not experience any at all.

find middle ground

Simpson-Harley advised that women who are experiencing morning sickness should always try to eat things that contain ginger because it assists with settling the stomach. One thing that she advises against is under- and overeating. Women should try to find a middle ground.

"When you allow yourself to get excessively hungry, your stomach will start to feel bad, and if you overeat it may lead to vomiting if you suffer from morning sickness. It is better to eat frequently in small portions, so that you are not hungry and you are not overfull," advises Dr Simpson-Harley. She recommends that women try to keep hydrated.

She listed a few symptoms of morning sickness. These include vomiting, which results in dehydration and, in extreme cases, dizziness and fainting. She does admit that there are a few extreme cases like Joseph's and, before trying any home remedies, one should consult a doctor.

"A doctor is best able to advise, and some of us will also give you information from personal experience. For example, when I was pregnant my OBGYN told me to eat baby carrots to assist with heartburn. It helped, so I pass the same information on to my own patients," she said.

The doctor encourages women to stay strong and, even through this experience, to try their best to keep a strong mental perspective and enjoy the pregnancy because, in the end, it is all worth it.