Symptoms

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What is hyperemesis gravidarum like?

Beatrice Cheer, who had the same condition as the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge, suffered greatly before giving birth to her now 7-year-old son Declan Cheer.
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
AFFECTED BADLY: Beatrice Cheer, who had the same condition as the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge, suffered greatly before giving birth to her now 7-year-old son Declan Cheer.

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A Christchurch woman who had the same condition as the pregnant Kate Middleton would not wish it "on her worst enemy".

The Duchess of Cambridge has been hospitalised with the severe form of morning sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum, and was yesterday receiving intravenous fluids at a private London hospital.

Canterbury Museum marketing and events co-ordinator Beatrice Cheer was advised not to have any more children after five months of "fear, exhaustion and suffering" when she was pregnant with her now 7-year-old son.

She said Middleton would likely be "counting the days to the birth of her baby".

"She will have loads of help to cope on a practical level, but on a physical and psychological level she will feel very down indeed."

Cheer had to leave her job eight months earlier than planned because she was bedridden and unable to keep food down.

"I would stand in the shower every morning and cry with exhaustion and fear that hyperemesis would kill me and my child," she said.

Cheer said she would vomit until her stomach lining ruptured and was sometimes hospitalised three times a week because of dehydration. Even the smell of clean clothes and the inside of a fridge would make her vomit.

Doctors gave her a "cocktail of anti-nausea drugs" that left her drooling and unable to sit down because of muscle spasms, she said.

"I was rushed to the after-hours' clinic one night to receive a shot of Cogentin, an anti-allergy medication. That was the lowest point of my pregnancy."

Cheer said the condition "steals all the joy you should be experiencing in pregnancy".

Her son was born at full term and was healthy but Cheer still worried the drugs she had taken while pregnant may have affected him in some way.

It was her first pregnancy and Cheer would not be having more children.

Experts told The Press being hospitalised with severe morning sickness is very rare.

Canterbury and West Coast chairwoman for the New Zealand College of Midwives Yvonne Hiskemuller said about two in every 200 pregnant women would be hospitalised for morning sickness.

"More women tend to be rehydrated at after-hours clinics [in Canterbury] but I don't suppose they would send the duchess to her local GP clinic," she said.

Hiskemuller said the symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum could be expected to ease in the second trimester of pregnancy.

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Colin Conaghan, of Christchurch Obstetric Associates, offered his "commiserations" to the expecting duchess.

"Hyperemesis gravidarum is a very unpleasant condition that will leave a woman feeling exhausted and constantly sick," he said.

"Women who experience this severe form of morning sickness will need rehydration . . . if a woman is five to 10 per cent dehydrated, then it might mean a four to five kilogram weight loss."

Conaghan said the condition was often associated with "multiple babies" because of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

"There will be higher levels of hCG from the placenta, or more than one placenta."

Christchurch Women's Hospital obstetrician John Short said hyperemesis gravidarum affected about 50 women a year in Canterbury.

He said many pregnant women found eating ginger or drinking ginger beer could help relieve nausea.

- The Press

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Morning sickness

Up to 80 per cent of pregnant women get morning sickness - and not just in the mornings.