You May Have Heard That Kate Middleton Gets Very Sick When She’s Pregnant. Now We Know Why.

For many women, pregnancy is a mixture of excitement and misery, especially during the first trimester. Why? Because the morning sickness struggle is real.

It can last all day. It can involve more than mild nausea and vomiting. When the morning sickness lasts way beyond the morning, and way beyond the first trimester, it’s something else entirely.

Called hyperemesis gravidarum, it is an incurable pregnancy complication, and between .5 and 3 percent of pregnant women are affected by it.

England’s favorite duchess – Kate – has been hit with another case of it after dealing with the condition with her first two pregnancies. With Prince George, she had to be hospitalized because the symptoms were so debilitating. And then it repeated during the duchess’s pregnancy with Princess Charlotte.

So, what exactly is hyperemesis gravidarum? The name implies excessive vomiting during pregnancy, but there are other symptoms. It’s common for women to experience dehydration, weight loss, and low blood pressure – for months at a time.

Nonstop vomiting, loss of appetite, and the inability to hold food or drink are hallmark signs of HG. Despite efforts to quell the symptoms, its origin remains a mystery, and therefore, so does a cure.

Some women are ill during the entire pregnancy. Because they’re unable to keep anything down, many expectant moms have to alter their diets, take anti-nausea prescriptions, or stay in a hospital to get proper nourishment. Eating ginger doesn’t always help.

Doctors also instruct women to be on bedrest in a darkened, quiet space. But then, prescribed courses of action do not always work and some moms suffer through nine months without relief. Additionally, it’s suggested that the percentage of pregnant women with HG could be significantly higher because many do not realize they have it.

A study conducted by NIH discussed that hyperemesis gravidarum doesn’t just impact the mothers. Babies can be born prematurely, with low birth weights, or have other challenges. Weight loss, electrolyte imbalances, and malnourishment in the mom can contribute to unhealthy outcomes in the child.

One of the things researchers have discovered is that HG tends to run in families. Specifically, if you have a sister who’s had HG then you are 17 times more likely to get it too. It’s recommended to discuss any family history of HG during prenatal visits.

With Duchess Kate going through round three of this illness, the royal family has her under the watchful eye of a medical team. Treatments vary according to each woman’s case, but anyone trying to cope with this needs to work with a doctor to find a suitable plan. Watch the video below to learn more about the condition.

Morning sickness sucks on its own but with HG, the misery is magnified. But when the baby arrives that all disappears. If you’re someone who is experiencing this illness or suspect you are, see a doctor immediately. There are even support groups available.

As for the royal family, it’s said that Prince William and his wife are looking forward to their newest addition, no matter how rough the road ahead may be.

Are you someone who’s dealt with hyperemesis gravidarum? How severe were your symptoms? Did you have it with each pregnancy?

UCLA Newsroom