Speculation about a royal pregnancy was put to rest with the announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are, in fact, expecting a baby. The 30-year-old couple was forced to share their happy news earlier than planned as the Duchess was hospitalized with acute morning sickness.
But what is the condition known and hyperemesis gravidarum and how will it affect Kate's pregnancy? Could it indicate, as some reports suggest, that she might be having twins?
For the answers to these questions and more, we turned to several medical professionals:
Kate will be 31 by the time she gives birth. Some royal watchers say that she is rather old to be having a baby. Is that true?
"Thirty-one is certainly not too old to have a baby!" says New York City-based gynecologist Bindi Roy-Sadarangani. "So long as she doesn't have any underlying medical issues and is an otherwise healthy woman, her age poses no risk to her or the baby."
"These days people are waiting longer to have children," explains Megan Wolfe, a San Francisco-based nurse practioner in obstetrics and gynecology, who adds that "thirty five is really the age that risks increase."
California-based gynecologist Elizabeth Lyster adds that the late 20s and early 30s are a "great time" to have a baby.
"Young enough to have the energy and stamina that kids require and old enough to have her education, some life experience and personal priorities in order. I think we can agree Kate has done a wonderful job of that," she says.
How common is hyperemesis gravidarum? What are the symptoms?
What sets hyperemesis gravidarum apart from run-of-the-mill morning sickness is its severity, experts say.
In the rare group of women who experience the condition, "nausea and vomiting are so severe that the woman can usually not even keep down fluids, such as sips of water or Gatorade," Lyster says.
"In severe cases, it can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances that require hospitalization, but, usually resolves with conservative care and the administration of intravenous fluids," Roy- Sadarangani explains.
Doesn't sound like much fun, but as Wolfe points out, the condition only affects between 0.5 and two percent of pregnant women. For most pregnant women, morning sickness is more of any annoyance than anything else and resolves itself by week 21, says Roy-Sadarangani.
However, she adds that "women should know [morning sickness] does not just happen in the morning. It can happen at all times of the day."
There have been some reports that HG can indicate the mother might be carrying twins. Is this true?
The condition is more common among women who are carrying more than one baby because of higher levels of pregnancy hormones. However, Roy-Sadarangani explains that "while there are more chances of HG in multiple pregnancies … this is not always associated with twins."
At what point in a pregnancy can doctors tell if a woman is carrying twins?
The number of fetuses a mother is carrying can be determined in the first trimester, sometimes as early as five to six weeks, Roy-Sadarangani says.
How active can a pregnant woman be? Will Kate need to scale back her activities and public appearances?
"A pregnant woman can be as active as she is used to being if she feels well," says Lyster.
"While Kate may certainly feel more tired, especially in the early portion of pregnancy, there is no medical reason that Kate should have to miss out on public appearances, assuming, of course, she has no underlying health issues," Roy-Sadarangani adds.
Phew. Bring on the maternity wear!Comment