Royal-watchers around the world are thrilled by the birth of William and Kate’s third child today. But the journey to motherhood wasn’t easy; even Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge experienced the discomfort and physical demands of pregnancy. She suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum in each of her pregnancies, requiring additional medical care and even hospitalization while carrying her first child.
When you’re pregnant, it can be hard to know exactly when to seek medical attention. As we celebrate the royal family’s new bundle of joy, we’re taking a closer look at hyperemesis gravidarum, as well as the early signs of labor, to help you determine when a trip to the hospital might be necessary.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum 101
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a type of severe morning sickness causing nausea and vomiting so persistent that nutritional deficiencies and electrolyte imbalances can occur. Expectant moms like Kate may be hospitalized for a short time during pregnancy if they need help eating and staying hydrated. Although the Duchess dealt with the condition during all three pregnancies, having hyperemesis gravidarum once doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have it again.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum vs. Morning Sickness
The best way to anticipate hyperemesis gravidarum is to maintain consistent contact with your prenatal care provider. Your OB-GYN will be able to diagnose and treat hyperemesis gravidarum more quickly and effectively if you’re seeing him or her routinely.
The majority of pregnant women experience some degree of morning sickness, but only a very small percentage suffer from HG. Anne-Marie Jones, MD, says she typically sees just one or two patients per year with this condition. It also occurs more commonly in women carrying twins.
Dr. Jones recommends an expectant mom see her doctor if she starts feeling dizzy and/or has not been able to keep fluids or food down for more than 12 hours.
Treatment and Recovery
This condition doesn’t always require hospitalization, but if you are pregnant and unable to keep food and water down, you may need to be admitted. Depending on the severity of your HG diagnosis, you might be given small, frequent meals, IV fluids or Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN), and medicines to combat nausea.
Hyperemesis gravidarum typically lasts longer than morning sickness. While morning sickness usually improves after the first trimester, HG can last up to 21 weeks or more.
Early Signs of Labor
As you approach your due date, be mindful of any physical or emotional changes that might be indicating the early stages of labor. Kate was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, in the early stages of labor, and gave birth the same day. Though each woman’s pregnancy and birth are unique, there are a few early signs that could mark the start of your labor journey:
- Persistent lower back or abdominal pain, similar to menstrual cramps
- Increased/more frequent urge to urinate
- A shift/dropping of the baby’s position in the womb
- Darker vaginal discharge
- Water breaking or leaking of amniotic fluid
During early labor, it’s important to balance rest and light activity. Eat and drink fluids as needed. Early labor contractions are usually mild and irregular, up to 20 or 30 minutes apart. When they are consistently five minutes apart, however, it’s time to contact your doctor.
If you are experiencing symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum or think you may be in early or active labor, contact your OB-GYN immediately.
We want you to have a supportive partner through the ups and downs of pregnancy and motherhood: The experts at Florida Hospital for Women are ready to guide you at every stage. To learn more or make an appointment, please call (407) 720-5191.