updated 18 Jan 2013, 04:19
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Fri, Dec 14, 2012
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'I threw up 7 times in 10 minutes'
by Judith Tan

THE severe morning sickness that is plaguing Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton is something administrative assistant Claudia Chua knows about first-hand.

The 34-year-old mother of three suffered the same condition and, like the wife of Prince William, had to be hospitalised for it too.

Ms Chua had it when she was expecting her middle child, Alicia, now eight, and again with her son, Lewis, now 19 months.

She said she did not suffer as badly when she was expecting her eldest child, Felicia, now 16.

Severe morning sickness, or hyperemesis gravidarum, causes serious vomiting and inability to eat or drink that results in dehydration and a loss of more than 5 per cent of weight.

Ms Chua said this is not unusual as "you can throw up as many as seven to eight times" while down with hyperemesis gravidarum.

She added that her bouts of the condition "were particularly bad" when she was at home.

"During the last two pregnancies, I would throw up until there was nothing left to throw up but green bile," she recounted.

To illustrate how bad it could get, she said: "Once, I threw up seven times while walking to a coffee shop near my home for dinner. It was a mere 10-minute stroll.

"I managed to have dinner without any more episodes, but when I got home, I threw up another three times. I had to be taken to hospital."

During her last two pregnancies, she had to be hospitalised several times and was given intravenous fluids for 24 hours to rehydrate her as well as to restore the electrolytes, vitamins, and nutrients in her body.

Her doctor Christopher Chong, a gynaecologist in private practice, said that if hyperemesis gravidarum is not treated, it will result in dehydration and could affect the baby's health.

He added: "Some mothers become giddy because they are not eating and their blood sugar is low, leading them to faint.

"Fainting puts a pregnant woman at risk of falling and hurting themselves and their babies. Some also become depressed because of their severe vomiting."

Ms Chua said that when she was expecting Alicia, her hyperemesis gravidarum stopped after three months.

"With my son Lewis, it was very trying. The throwing up went on until I was into my fifth month of pregnancy," she said, adding she needed to eat to ensure the baby was healthy.

"So I forced myself to eat," she said.

Fish and Coke

Ms Chua said the only time she could keep the vomiting in check was when she had fish and Coke for lunch.

She said: "I don't know what it was, but I needed to have fish and Coke every time just to keep the food down.

"If I decided to have anything else other than the fish-Coke combo, I would be gracing the toilet bowl soon after lunch."

Most pregnant women experience some type of morning sickness, but less than 2 per cent of them have hyperemesis gravidarum.

Obstetrician and gynaecologist Anthony Siow said it can be expected in multiple pregnancies, molar pregnancies (where tissue that normally becomes a foetus becomes an abnormal growth in the uterus), and in mothers with thyroid disorders.

"And if serious enough, it can lead to acute kidney impairment, neurological disorder and blood clots, but it is not associated with increased miscarriage," he added.

Ms Chua said Dr Chong advised her that Lewis would be fine and healthy "as long as I started to gain weight from my sixth month onwards, which I did".

When asked if the condition has put her off having more babies, she said: "I thought I would stop after Alicia as hers was a difficult pregnancy, but then, Lewis came along.

"He is such a beautiful child, so, no. No regrets."

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