What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

As Buckingham Palace announces Kate Middleton and Prince William are set to welcome baby number three, we ask – what is hyperemesis gravidarum?

It has been well documented that the Duchess of Cambridge has suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum during her last two pregnancies. Having already canceled public appearances due to severe sickness, it would appear baby number three is causing hyperemesis gravidarum yet again.


Although not a threatening condition it isn’t exactly pleasant – would you like to be sick all the time? In simple terms, so no doctor speak, hyperemesis gravidarum is not morning sickness but rather extreme sickness and nausea throughout pregnancy.

The condition can cause a woman to be sick up to 50 times a day in severe cases and be unable to keep food or drink down. Affecting around 1% of women, hyperemesis gravidarum does not disappear at the 14-week period but can stick around until the baby is born. Making it a very unpleasant illness.


Treating hyperemesis gravidarum is simple and can involve anti-sickness tables and fluids given intravenously, steroids, vitamins (B6 and B12) or a combination. For the unlucky few whose nausea and vomiting can’t be controlled, the next option is hospitalisation for doctors to monitor both mum and baby. Breathe a sigh of relief as this is a last case scenario.

Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum can vary from person to person but the main include:

  • Prolonged and severe nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Ketosis – a serious condition resulting in the build up of acidic chemicals in blood and urine
  • Weight loss
  • Low blood pressure whilst standing
  • Other symptoms include anxiety, headaches and constipation, heightened sense of smell, sores from long periods of time in bed


For women who have experienced hyperemesis gravidarum during the first pregnancy, it is highly likely to be experienced in future pregnancies. Meaning its no surprise that Kate is experiencing similar symptoms to her pregnancies with George and Charlotte.

If you are concerned about the condition and your pregnancy, it is advised you contact your GP immediately.

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