Morning sickness is an accepted part of what to expect when your expecting, in some cases it’s the first tell tale sign that you’re pregnant.
But for some women the experience can be crippling.
Roughly 10,000 women every year are affected by extreme nausea and vomiting, also known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), during pregnancy.
The Duchess of Cambridge helped to bring attention to the debilitating condition when she withdrew from all her public royal engagements in the early stages of her pregnancy and had to be hospitalised.
Women who suffer with HG are often unable to get out of bed, vomiting up to 30 times a day or more.
For 10 per cent of these HG-affected women the symptoms are so bad they are simply intolerable and have left some with no alternative but to terminate their pregnancy.
A report from the UK entitled ‘ I could not survive another day’, surveyed 70 women who, over the last decade, had chosen to end their pregnancies due to the severe sickness.
According to the charity pregnancy Sickness Support, who produced the report, say too many women don’t receive the proper care and treatment they need to continue their pregnancies.
These experiences suggest that in some cases doctors and nurses are not willing to provide medication to treat the condition or are slow to recognise its severity.
Steroids are often an option for women with HG who don’t respond to other anti-sickness drugs. But the report found women are often told by health care practitioners that the steroids can harm the foetus or are to expensive to prescribe.
Less than one in 10 women surveyed were offered steroid treatment and almost half said they had been refused medication when they asked for it.
The problem is that HG needs to be taken more sriously by the medical profession, argues Dr Daghni Rajasingam, consultant obstetrician from St Thomas’ Hospital in London and a spokeswoman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
“We can start by giving women tablets to help the sickness, bring them into hospital to receive intravenous fluids and nutrition if necessary and give steroids in very severe cases,” she told reporters.
It is hoped that an increase in public awareness of HG could make doctors, nurses and midwives more sympathetic towards patients who have severe pregnancy sickness.
“We have to ensure when women are pregnant they have a contact to discuss these issues with.”