Mother describes pregnancy sickness with which Duchess Of Cambridge has been diagnosed
A WOMAN who suffered the same extreme pregnancy sickness as the Duchess of Cambridge is using her experience to help other women in the North East Lincolnshire area.
Jessica Male, 32, of Ashby-Cum-Fenby, said that hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) – the condition Kate was diagnosed with earlier this month – left her bedridden and unable to eat.
As a trustee of the national Pregnancy Sickness Support Group, the mum-of-four said it was worth going through the trauma to have her children, but that it was important for people not to dismiss the condition as morning sickness and to realise it is a severe complication some women suffer during pregnancy.
Jessica said she had always dreamed of having a big family of her own, but before falling pregnant for the first time 13 years ago, she never envisaged just how horrible her pregnancy would be.
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In 1998 Jessica was being treated for persistent vomiting at Grimsby's Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, when she discovered she was expecting.
However, although she was delighted at discovering she was going to have a baby, over the next nine months she spent weeks at a time in hospital, undergoing blood tests and being attached to IV drips to stop her from getting dehydrated.
She was diagnosed with HG – a severe form of nausea and vomiting – a condition that did not subside until she had given birth.
She said: "I was not just being sick once. Most days it was more than 30 times.
"I could not keep any food or drink down, which is why I would be put onto a drip.
"This was my first pregnancy. I knew nothing about HG and just thought it was all normal.
"I gave birth to my first son Zachary – now 13 – and my vomiting just stopped."
When she discovered she was expecting again two years later, Jessica wanted to believe that her second pregnancy would be better than the first, but it was not to be the case. Her symptoms were the same and the vomiting was constant.
She said: "I could not believe how unlucky I was. Most new mums spend their pregnancy getting excited about the arrival of their child, but all I was thinking was when would I be sick or in hospital next.
"My partner Chris is fantastic, as he looked after Zachary while I was in hospital. When my second son Dylan arrived, the sickness cleared almost immediately."
After her second horrific experience, Jessica began to contemplate giving up her dreams of having a big family.
She said: "I never wanted to say no to having any more, but the thought of going through all the symptoms again was unbearable."
However, to the surprise of Jessica and Chris, in 2005 they discovered they were expecting their third child.
This time Jessica's conditions worsened and just six weeks into the pregnancy, she was hospitalised for a month.
Anti-sickness drugs failed and doctors twice asked Jessica to consider having a termination.
She said: "Medics did not know how to help me any further, but I could not give up my child.
"After some deliberating with colleagues, my consultant tried me on a new drug which helped me to reach my 12 week mark before he put me onto steroids.
"During this time I had lost three stones.
"I slept through the majority of my pregnancy as the constant vomiting exhausted me."
Once again, following the safe arrival of Reuben – now seven – the sickness immediately stopped.
Despite being mum to three beautiful boys, many people would assume that having had such horrendous pregnancies, Jessica and Chris would have taken steps to ensure they had no more children.
Jessica now looks back and laughs at her reaction on discovering she was having her fourth child, Ava, who is now three.
She said: "I can laugh now as I have a wonderful daughter, but at the time it was awful.
"During my final pregnancy I refused to go into hospital – that was until I got to such a point of dehydration that I could not stand up and I began having an irregular heartbeat.
"I spent 12 weeks in hospital this time, before I was given a syringe driver to administrate medication myself at home.
"I had the help of a district nurse who visited the house.
"I do look back and see the horrible side of pregnancy and the suffering I put myself through but then I look at all four of my children and I am so pleased they are here.
"I feel lucky that through all this I still managed to follow my dreams of wanting a big family."
As a trustee of the Pregnancy Sickness Support group, Jessica wants to support other women going through a similar situation, to offer advice and guidance through it.
She also hopes that now people are more aware of the condition, they will be more sympathetic to those who suffer from it.
Jessica added: "I do feel for Kate, as I know just how bad it can be and I hope her symptoms are not too severe.
"However, on the other side, we could not have asked for a better public figure-head to have been diagnosed with it and help to raise awareness.
"I just want HG to be recognised as a severe complication in pregnancy and not just morning sickness.
"I find people are less sympathetic when this term is used."
Find out more
For more information about HG, visit www.pregnancysicknesssupport.org.uk