Saturday 20 January 2018

'I battled with the same severe morning sickness as Kate Middleton' - Irish mum's pregnancy with hyperemesis gravidarum

Rebecca Jane Hegarty with her son Noah. The mum suffered the same condition as Kate Middleton
Rebecca Jane Hegarty with her son Noah. The mum suffered the same condition as Kate Middleton

Laura Lynott

A young mum was forced to leave her life in London and return to Ireland as a result of her severe morning sickness.

Rebecca Jane Hegarty (26), now living in Lucan, suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) - a condition Kate Middleton was diagnosed with during her two pregnancies.

Originally from Cork, Rebecca Jane became pregnant in 2012 but had to return to Ireland - giving up her job - after she was hospitalised with HG.

While most mums-to-be suffer a little morning sickness, Rebecca Jane endured vomiting and nausea throughout her entire pregnancy. Much like the Duchess of Cambridge, she was eventually hospitalised before the birth of her now four-year-old son, Noah.

Rebecca Jane Hegarty suffered the same condition as Kate Middleton
Rebecca Jane Hegarty suffered the same condition as Kate Middleton

"I was half the size I am now when I was pregnant with Noah," Rebecca Jane said.

"I was probably the only person to say I was slimmer the day I gave birth than before I was pregnant."

The former theatre studies student was diagnosed with HG - a form of severe vomiting, which affects around one in 50 women - six weeks into her pregnancy.

"I tested because I was getting sick from day dot really," Rebecca Jane said. "I ended up going to A&E in London and I was like 'what's wrong with me?'. At six weeks pregnant they diagnosed me. It was pretty severe and there was no hiding it.

Kate suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) during her pregnancies
Kate suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) during her pregnancies

"I was so sick, I couldn't even leave the house, so I started ordering boiled rice and two bottles of mineral water from a Chinese take-away every day, to try to eat and drink something.

"My friends said they thought I was after getting into a bad crowd in London taking drugs and that's why I was so sick all the time - that was quite funny, but annoying."

She decided to return home at 14 weeks, as her condition was becoming more pronounced.

"It soon became clear it wasn't going to work out, me living in London. I moved back to Cork to live with my sister.

"I started going to hospital there but none of the medications were doing a lot - it was a matter of eating what would stay down."

Rebecca Jane, married to Ger (36), was placed on a number of medications to stop her being sick, including one set used by chemotherapy patients.

She said she was advised some tablets could be "bad for the baby", but the mother said she was without a choice as she was being sick all the time.

"I couldn't manage, the only time I left the house, my partner would have to come to collect me and I'd have a pocket of bin bags because every couple of steps I'd vomit," she said.

"I was excited to go to the shopping centre but people thought I was a wino, being sick every couple of steps."

Rebecca Jane said she went repeatedly to the hospital and was fed by drip, rehydrated enough to go home, but she would just start being sick all over again.

At around 33 weeks pregnant, she was finally admitted to Cork University Hospital and was given injections to help her stop being sick.

"I lost a lot of weight when pregnant and, as time went on, I was asked was it an eating disorder and comments were made that maybe I didn't want to be pregnant. That was beyond annoying," she said.

Rebecca Jane slept constantly after she was put on more medication and finally Noah was born at 38 weeks by emergency C-section, but she was even sick during labour.

The mum says she doubts she will have any more children.

"I couldn't go through that again. Noah means the world to me, I love him so much and he's an amazing little boy, but I know if I was pregnant again I wouldn't be able to look after him, so I can't do that," she said.

Rebecca Jane encouraged other expectant mothers who fear they are suffering HG to email a group for peer-to-peer support: hyperemesis@gmail.com.

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