Comedian Amy Schumer has built a brand on unfiltered, relatable comedy, so it’s no surprise that the 37-year-old is being painfully honest about a complication of her pregnancy. In a caption to a picture of herself in a hospital bed on Thursday, she explained to her fans that she’s been forced to reschedule a show in Texas in order to recover from an extreme form of morning sickness.
“I am in the hospital. I’m fine. Baby’s fine but everyone who says the 2nd trimester is better is not telling the full story,” she wrote. “I’ve been even more ill this trimester. I have hyperemesis and it blows.” Schumer and her husband, Chris Fischer, went public with her pregnancy in October, dropping it at the bottom of an endorsement of 20 Democratic candidates on Instagram.
But the announcement was one she teased days earlier, Photoshopping her face onto a picture of Meghan Markle — who is also pregnant — and Prince Harry. But in a cruel twist of fate, Schumer turns out to be following more closely in the footsteps of Markle’s sister-in-law Kate Middleton, who also famously suffered from hyperemesis, or, more specifically, hyperemesis gravidarum (HG).
So what is this condition, and what causes it?
Hyperemesis is a severe form of morning sickness that effects 200,000 women a year, causing chronic nausea, vomiting, weight loss and electrolyte imbalance. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that most women experience morning sickness — especially in the initial three months — HG is a decidedly more extreme version.
Womenshealth.gov notes that HG can cause a pregnant woman to vomit “several times every day,” leading to reduced appetite, dehydration and feeling faint. As a result, the condition often requires medical intervention, both to stabilize the mom-to-be and to provide fluids. The exact cause of the condition is unknown, but doctors believe it is likely brought on by “rapidly rising serum levels of hormones such as HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and estrogen.”
Risk factors for the condition, according to the Cleveland Clinic, include being a first-time mother, being overweight, having a multiple pregnancy (twins or more), and having experienced it in an earlier pregnancy. In terms of preventive measures, the Cleveland Clinic notes that taking vitamin B6 before pregnancy can potentially help, and that in many cases the condition will subside after 20 weeks.
But for Schumer, who says that she’s in her second trimester, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
While there is no single cure for HG, the Cleveland Clinic says symptoms can be helped by eating small, frequent meals, wearing pressure-point wristbands, taking anti-nausea medicine, and, in the most severe cases, getting nutrients delivered through an IV (called total parenteral nutrition, or TPN). On top of these treatments, the Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation is working on measures to stop the condition before it starts, publishing a study that has linked two genes to HG.
Middleton, who suffered from HG in all three of her pregnancies, was forced to cancel royal visits in order to get treatment. It seems Schumer, whether she realizes it or not, is now following in her footsteps. Included in the comedian’s Instagram post is an apology to her fans in Texas, and a mention that she’s still grateful to be carrying a child.
“Very lucky to be pregnant but this is some bullshit!” Schumer writes. “Sending so much love to the doctors and nurses taking great care of me and Tati! They are cool as hell! And Texas I am really really sorry and I’ll be out there as soon as I’m better.”
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