Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge recently made waves in the news when she was hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness. She stunned the world first by the news that she was carrying a potential heir to the throne and then by her condition, which affects only 1 to 2 percent of pregnancies.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is characterized by excessive nausea and vomiting far beyond what is normal so that affected women can suffer from dehydration, trouble receiving appropriate nutrition and a host of other related complications.
Kate was admitted to the hospital on Monday and expected to stay several days before being released. Her condition has drawn worldwide attention to the health issues that can complicate a pregnancy. Upwards of 80 percent of women may face morning sickness; others experience physical discomfort, swelling, cardiac complications or peripartum depression.
These conditions can have an impact on the lives of women and their children. Those with hyperemesis who gain less than 15 pounds tend to give birth earlier to smaller children. Women suffering from postpartum depression have trouble connecting with their children, resulting in lowered IQ, slower learning rates and higher risk levels of ADHD.
Kate’s pregnancy complication draws attention to the importance of having a plan in place for major life events. Life is full of surprises; monkey wrenches can appear at any time. No woman should find herself unprepared to deal with the physical or mental consequences of a bump in the road. We should all know what to do and where to go should a problem arise.
What would you do if you suddenly got sick? If you found out you were pregnant? Who among friends, family or doctors is familiar with your issues and desires, and can help prevent complicating issues? If you get sick, who will take care of your house or your pets?
Kate is lucky to have a supportive husband, family and outstanding team of doctors. We should all make sure we have something similar in place should we need it.