Hyperemesis gravidarum may sound like something out of a Harry Potter book, but Kate Middleton, who opened up about her morning sickness in a recent interview with the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast, said there’s nothing magical about this condition. For those unfamiliar with hyperemesis gravidarum, it’s a form of severe morning sickness and something Kate has experienced first hand. “I got very bad morning sickness, so I’m not the happiest of pregnant people,” she said on the podcast.
Although Kate said she was fortunate to not have the most severe case hyperemesis, it still presented a serious challenge for her and the people around her, including her husband, Prince William. “It was definitely a challenge. Not just for me but also for your loved ones around you — and I think that’s the thing — being pregnant and having a newborn baby and things like that, impacts everybody in the family,” she explained.
According to Kate, the hardest part for Willam was feeling powerless to help ease his wife’s suffering. “You know, William didn’t feel he could do much to help and it’s hard for everyone to see you suffering without actually being able to do anything about it,” she said. But despite being ill, Kate still marveled at the process of her pregnancy. “I was really sick — I wasn’t eating the things I should be eating — but yet, the body was still able to take all the goodness from my body and to grow new life, which I think is fascinating,” she recalled.
The experience also taught her a lot about herself and what her body is capable of. “It was through hyperemesis that I really realized the power of the mind over the body because I really had to try everything and everything to try and help me through it,” she explained. One of the things she explored to help prepare for her labor was hypnobirthing.
As Dr. Yvonne Butler Tobah explained on the Mayo Clinic’s website, “Hypnobirthing is a birthing method that uses self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques to help a woman feel physically, mentally and spiritually prepared and reduce her awareness of fear, anxiety, and pain during childbirth.” Dr. Tobah wrote that, while there are variations to the program, “classes generally teach participants to practice and use a combination of music, visualization, positive thinking and words to relax the body and control sensations during labor.”
As for Kate’s particular practice, she says it was more low key. “I’m not going to say that William was standing there sort of, chanting sweet nothings at me. He definitely wasn’t! I didn’t even ask him about it, but it was just something I wanted to do for myself,” she explained.
It’s rare for anyone in the British royal family to be so open about such a personal experience. But for the many mothers who’ve struggled with hyperemesis gravidarum and the partners who’ve felt powerless seeing the person they love in pain, Kate's openness about her experience and all the positives that came from going through it offers such an important and hopeful message.