Problems in pregnancy

problemsinpregnancy.jpgLast week in London, whilst walking down a side street, I was horrified to see the world's press encamped, like a swarm of locusts, on the pavement outside King Edward VII hospital. I took this picture with my iPhone but it doesn't capture the sheer scale of the abomination. Their prey was the newly pregnant Duchess of Cambridge, suffering from a rare and severe form of “morning sickness” called hyperemesis gravidarum. This is a potentially life-threatening condition which can cause women to avoid food and drink in an effort to stop themselves vomiting throughout the day and night. It is a horrid condition. A close friend of mine suffered from it right through all three of her pregnancies.

The reason for my disgust is this: When a woman is in the early stages of pregnancy, she is already going through a roller-coaster of emotions and fears; add to this the debilitation of throwing up left, right and centre, and you have a very vulnerable young lady, even without the extra pressure of being in the media spotlight. A first pregnancy should be a time of excitement: Women look forward to growing a new life, marvelling at the changes in their bodies as their baby develops. However, when complications hit it can be a frightening and distressing time.

I have no doubt that Kate and William would have preferred – like most couples – to keep the news of their pregnancy to themselves until they were past the first few weeks of uncertainty and risk. Their immediate family only learned of her condition when Kate’s illness necessitated admission to hospital – imagine the politics surrounding that particular conversation with the in-laws! Now they are under pressure to discuss developments, not only with their parents and siblings, but with the worlds media  to boot!

Unable to savour the excitement privately, within the intimacy of their marriage, the Duke and Duchess are now forced to account for Kate’s own health, and the camera spotlight is firmly trained on her peaky appearance. I take my hat off to Kate. She must feel like the pits but she carries herself with courage and dignity. Can there be anything worse than feeling queasy, nauseous, faint-headed and weak, whilst having to face a barrage of paparazzi with flashing cameras. And yet last Thursday Kate did just that and gave a smile of thanks for the nation’s concern. I really do hope she has perfected the art of ventriloquism – I for one could only make it through that ordeal with a surreptitious “get out of my face you vultures before I chuck up all over you!”

I know how distressing it can be to suffer a daunting illness during pregnancy, having watched my daughter, Nadia, cope with Symphisis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) whilst pregnant. SPD is caused by the relaxation and stretching of the ligaments around the pelvic bones towards the end of pregnancy, a necessary change in the body, designed to create extra space for the baby to move through the birth canal. However, when it occurs too early, and to an excessive degree, SPD causes a huge amount of pain, and in Nadia's case, the need for crutches to move around at all. Even lying in bed is a painful exercise, as the pelvic bones shift and put strain on surrounding muscles and ligaments. It was bad enough watching Nadia suffer but the thought of her being simultaneously hounded by the media sickens me. Is our craving for news really so insatiable that it has driven our press to be so insensitive!

On Sunday night Prince William pulled out of an official engagement because Kate’s condition had deteriorated. The palace made it clear that regular updates on her pregnancy were out of the question, and asked the press to respect her privacy. It doesn’t take a genius to know that such respect will not be granted. That poor young woman will have to share each peak and trough of her journey to motherhood with photographers and journalists. Would that they could afford Kate even half of the dignity she has shown them so far during her marriage. Please, whatever her status, Kate is simply a young woman going through a difficult pregnancy. The least we can do is give her some privacy while she learns to cope…

If you are suffering from debilitating morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum you can find help and advice at Pregnancy Sickness Support. If you are struggling with SPD the Pelvic Partnership have advice and support networks available to you.

Mandy x

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