When I was pregnant with my second child, I suffered from nausea and vomiting unlike anything I had experienced before. Simple acts like brushing my teeth or pouring a glass of milk would send me careening for the toilet. In fact, just the effort of getting out of bed each day was sometimes enough to push last night's dinner over the edge. What I had was a bad case of morning sickness — a misnomer of a name if I ever heard one. I puked morning, noon, and often in the middle of the night — right up until the moment I gave birth. Still, aside from the low-level nausea and frequent trips to the bathroom, I was able to function normally throughout the day. I was nauseous, but I could still eat — just slowly and carefully. There were even a few rare days that I didn't feel sick at all. So I know that what I went through was nothing compared to what women deal with who suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum during pregnancy.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is no morning sickness. It is a severe and debilitating disease that often comes with emergency room visits, IV's, intense medications, and vomiting — lots and lots of vomiting.  t causes weight loss and severe dehydration. It takes women away from their families, and it robs women of the joys of pregnancy. To call it morning sickness — or even acute morning sickness — is like saying that a woman with an arrow in her head has a bad headache. It doesn't even begin to encompass the gravity or breadth of symptoms that a woman feels when she suffers from hyperemesis gravidarum.

If the term sounds familiar to you, it's probably because it has been in the news recently. Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is pregnant with her second child. And once again, the royal family has announced that the duchess is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. During her first pregnancy, Middleton had to be admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in London in the early stages of her pregnancy. She remained there on and off until her son, George, was born seven months later. Middleton is now 12 weeks into her second pregnancy and is being treated at Kensington Palace by private doctors.  

Fortunately, the condition is very rare. Hyperemesis gravidarum occurs in between 1 and 2 percent of all pregnant women, but that is little consolation to the women who do get it, especially considering that women who have it with one pregnancy are more than likely to suffer from it during subsequent pregnancies — a fact that the duchess can attest to.

The other bit of good news is that as long as the mom-to-be gets good medical care during her pregnancy, this condition is unlikely to affect the baby. Most women who have suffered from it report that it goes away almost instantly after the baby is born. Nine months of torture for a lifetime with a healthy baby? It's all part of being a mom.

Related on MNN: