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Scot who suffered Kate's pregnancy's condition calls for help

A young mother who was sick up to 40 times a day during her pregnancy has called for specialist support for women who suffer from the extreme form of morning sickness.

Natalie Robb, 26, spent 15 days in hospital being treated for hyperemesis - the condition which has also affected the Duchess of Cambridge.

The "awful illness" left Mrs Robb feeling so unwell she visited her GP every week and also contacted the out-of-hours doctors service on a number of occasions.

But she said she was two-thirds of the way through her pregnancy before she was referred to a consultant.

Mrs Robb, from Perth, is now calling for dedicated help to be available for women suffering from hyperemesis - which she said could affect as many as 2% of all mothers-to-be.

She has put forward a petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for hospitals to have specialist nurses to provide medical and emotional support for women affected by the condition.

Mrs Robb, who has a two-year-old daughter, described hyperemesis as being "by far the worst experience of my life".

She said: "I was sick up to 40 times a day. It was miserable."

In her petition, Mrs Robb described hyperemesis as "an extremely severe illness resulting in many health problems for the mother including dehydration, renal failure, malnutrition, blood clotting problems, depression and on some occasions can result in death".

But she said despite the condition being widely publicised when the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to hospital for three days last month, it was still not widely understood.

Mrs Robb claimed too often hyperemesis was "not made out to be a big deal" by medical professionals.

She told MSPs on Holyrood's Public Petitions Committee: "Midwives, doctors and nurses are not given the specialist training needed to care for women with hyperemesis.

"I spoke to a senior lecturer in midwifery at Napier University to find out exactly what the students are taught.

"In the second year of their course they have a complications in pregnancy module, which only has one session covering hyperemesis.

"This is nowhere near enough to educate a midwife on something up to 2% of patients may suffer from."

Mrs Robb told the MSPs: "In total I spent 15 days in hospital, I required an ambulance, I used out-of-hours GP services on several occasions as well as my own GP weekly. I also required consultant-led care due to hyperemesis.

"My hospital admissions alone would have cost more than £7,050. A hyperemesis pregnancy is costing the NHS far more than it has to and putting a specialist nurse in place could hugely reduce these costs."

She said that although there are no specialist hyperemesis nurses anywhere in the UK, early pregnancy clinics at hospitals in England and Wales treat women with the condition as outpatients, giving them IV fluids and anti-sickness drugs.

She added that many hospitals south of the border had guidelines in place on how to treat women with hyperemesis as day patients but said: "In Scotland only one hospital, Forth Valley, appears to have these guidelines in place."

Mrs Robb called for more support to be made available, stating: "Thousands of women, like myself, are desperate for help and support during and after this illness.

"The lack of knowledge within the medical profession regarding this condition can lead women to seek termination instead of suffering from this.

"A specialist doctor, nurse or midwife would be able to provide medical and emotional support by providing the correct information, holding counselling sessions and support groups."

MSPs on the committee agreed to raise the issue with a number of groups, including the British Medical Association, the National Childbirth Trust, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives, as well as the Scottish Government.

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