Kate, 32, has been staying with her parents in Bucklebury as she is “not at all well, the poor thing,” a family friend tells PEOPLE.
“When you’re ill, the place you feel most comfortable is at home with your mum, isn’t it?” the source adds.
“When she’s there, Kate can just relax and sit on the sofa and not have to worry about having to deal with all the staff and everything else that comes with a big palace full of rooms,” the source also said.
Kate, who is very close to her mother, Carole, has been struggling with the debilitating condition hyperemesis gravidarum, and hasn’t been seen in public since the palace made the announcement that she is expecting again. They were forced to make the news public early because she became unwell.
Last week, she canceled an appearance at the launch of a new initiative of one of her charities, the Art Room. It came a couple of weeks after she had to miss out on her trip to Malta, with husband William going instead.
Palace officials say they are assessing on a “day by day basis” whether Kate (who is believed to be around 10 weeks pregnant) can resume public duties.
And one source tells PEOPLE, “It’s very difficult to give a time frame for when we might see her again. But hopefully she will get better soon and will get some engagements in soon.”
This is in keeping with what experts say about the extent of her illness. “With this condition – hyperemesis gravidarum – recovery before about 16 weeks is pretty unusual,” says Caitlin Dean, who suffered from it in three pregnancies and has written a book, Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Definitive Guide.
But her spending time in Bucklebury, around 50 miles west of her main doctors, could signal that things are being managed well and she simply needs to rest.
It was around the 13-week point in her previous pregnancy that Kate started tentatively doing public royal engagements again. Caitlin Dean says that “it’s not uncommon for women to have it worse in subsequent pregnancies.” But Kate’s doctors should be better prepared this time. “If you know you are going to get it and you have good doctors, then you can manage it better,” she adds.
“Last time, she did appear to recover quite quickly,” Dean also said. “But we did only see her for short appearances and then not for a while.”
Leading midwife Lesley Page also empathized with Kate – as she suffered from the same illness while pregnant. “It usually gets better at 12-16 weeks. Nowadays, there are ways of alleviating the condition. But it does make you feel really awful. It can be different for different pregnancies,” she tells PEOPLE.
Page met William when he awarded her an official honor last week. “He said that during the last pregnancy that they had been well looked after by midwives,” she told PEOPLE. “I’m sure she is getting really good help at the moment.”
• With reporting by MONIQUE JESSEN