The Duchess of Cambridge’s morning sickness has proved a big talking point – and a help for other mums in waiting too.
Morning sickness isn’t like man flu.Most women take it in their stride – a necessary byproduct of hormones in overload in the run up to the big delivery day.
No one enjoys it but most breeze through it and manage to keep down fluids. To become so dehydrated they risk collapse or even organ failure is rare.
That’s the condition – hyperemesis gravidarum – highlighted by Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, now pregnant with the third in line to the throne. And maybe a twin brother or sister too?
Midwifery matron Janice Danson-Smith, who is based at the maternity unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, says even calling it “morning” sickness is a misnomer.
“It’s a fallacy,” says Janet. “It can happen morning, afternoon and evening.
“In extreme cases it is immensely debilitating.”
Blackpool’s high birth rate provides a legion of young mums in waiting across the resort and Fylde coast right now.
The countdown is on for Christmas Day or Boxing Day babes or the New Year babies which give the rest of us such cheer.
As Janet adds: “Nothing is nicer than bringing new life into the world. Nothing is worse than when it goes wrong.”
She’s been there for the best and worst of times since coming in to her particular specialism in 1987.
Our mums can’t access the high quality private health care available to the future Queen – but can rely upon a network of support which is the envy of Lancashire.
Family GPs, community midwives, family support centres, and early pregnancy and maternity day units at the Vic have won best practice plaudits.
They also battle the potential blight presented by transience and social deprivation,
All aim, as Janet adds, to “deliver the very best service” to pregnant women and new mums.
Midwifery matron Janet says 3,000 babies are delivered each year at Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s maternity unit – and more delivered in the community.
“Thankfully most are straightforward.”
Janet says Kate’s condition has heightened awareness of hyperemesis gravidarum.
“It accepts that this is an illness which should not be dismissed – that people can do and do get hospitalised.
“A lot of women get morning sickness. But it can become a really debilitating illness requiring hospital admission.
“We start with antiemetics to stop them being sick and fluids by IV because they end up dehydrated and that can quickly turn to something quite serious. They can stand up and pass out and present with fainting.
“Thankfully it’s rare. The majority of women just get tablets to stop being sick and are OK.
“They get referred by GPs or community midwives, through the day unit or as emergencies.
“They’re not keeping any fluids down so there’s a huge difference between morning sickness in early pregnancy when you can be sick but eat and drink something later to make it up - and this.
“Morning sickness itself is a fallacy because it can be morning, afternoon and evening, even in normal pregnancy.
“It’s not something to be dismissed lightly. I noticed a touch of that in the comments on TV and in the press relating to Kate.
“It’s down to hormones and can be a predictor of twins but not necessarily - a lot of women go on to have one baby.
“It’s paramount we get women on our books as early as possible; national guidelines stipulate before 12 weeks.
“It depends on where or how they access ante natal care but they can refer to our early pregnancy unit under 15 weeks and the maternity day unit after 16 weeks - and the maternity unit deals with hyperemesis gravidarum too.
“We want them to access the services early so we can provide the best care.”
Janet’s own mum was prescribed Thalidomide, the drug used in the late 1950s and early 1960s to combat morning sickness, but which led to many children, including locally, being born without limbs. Its German creator, the Grünenthal Group, issued an apology for the “consequences” earlier this year.
“Fortunately my mum was one of the lucky ones,” says Janet. “She believed in fate.”
Sarah Jackson, 24, of Cleveleys, mother of six month old Zak, says meds helped her through morning sickness. “I got it chronic,” she says. “I got sympathy in ante-natal but not at home.
“I come from a big family and my gran, mum and sisters breezed through morning sickness mainlining ginger nuts – my grandad’s remedy for seasickness when he was on trawlers.
“It was only when I collapsed at the in-laws in Manchester and ended up in hospital on drips they realised I wan’t being a drama queen.”