There are a lot of women who can sympathize with Kate Middleton. Nothing spoils the elation of a positive pregnancy test quite like the misery of morning sickness. Up to two-thirds of women have nausea and vomiting during pregnancy; and while it is called morning sickness, for many it is morning, noon and night sickness. Obstetricians generally reassure their patients that the nausea will dissipate by the end of the third month, but some babies don’t get that memo and continue giving trouble for a much longer time. The only good news is that the typical nausea and vomiting of pregnancy is associated with a low rate of miscarriage and rarely affects the growth or development of the baby.
Kate Middleton’s condition is more extreme and far more serious. She. along with 0.5–1% of pregnant women, has the most severe form of nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy, known as hyperemesis gravidarum, an illness that requires IV fluids, antinausea drugs and sometimes hospitalization to prevent severe dehydration and weight loss.
Charlotte Bronte, the author of Jane Eyre, actually died from severe nausea and vomiting in the fourth month of her only pregnancy. Rest assured that this was in 1855, prior to the availability of IV fluids.
It’s not surprising that Kate, who vomited her way through the beginning of her 2012 pregnancy, is also having a miserable time with her second pregnancy. There appears to be a genetic component to who gets hit the hardest and up to 15% of women who get hyperemesis with a first pregnancy get it with a subsequent pregnancy. The number would doubtless be higher, but 37% of women who get severely sick with baby number one opt not to chance a repeat performance and stick with being the mother of only one child!
If you have typical morning sickness, know that there are a number of solutions that will help you to remain functional despite that yucky sick feeling.
First, forget everything the books say about nutrition during pregnancy and focus on eating things that don’t make you feel like you’re going to gag. Eating small amounts of bland, dry foods is the best bet for those suffering from morning sickness. Lemons also seem to help, and while it has not been confirmed that ginger in food decreases nausea, one study found that ginger tablets seem to make a significant difference.
Vitamin B6 (10-25 mg every eight hours) and the antihistamine doxylamine have been shown in many studies to reduce nausea by as much as 70%. Acupressure and acupuncture may be worth trying since some people can find relief using them, but most studies have shown they are no better than a placebo. But caution, wearing antinausea wristbands (unless you are on a boat) is the equivalent of putting a billboard on your forehead announcing your pregnancy.
Keep something in your stomach all the time, and try eating multiple small snacks throughout the day rather than three big meals. In addition, many antinausea drugs are safe (and necessary) for women like Kate who have severe symptoms.