Is Vomiting A Sign Of Labor? Experts Explain 3rd Trimester Nausea

When you're in your third trimester, everything feels like it could be a sign of labor — even that lingering morning sickness that won't quit. Seriously, puking in later pregnancy is the worst, but is vomiting a sign of labor? I vomited when my nurse told me it was time to push (I think that was more nerves than anything else), but that was during the end of my labor. Can a queasy stomach (and reliving your stomach of all its contents) mean your baby's on the way?

Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman, OB-GYN, author of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Pregnancy (But Were Too Afraid or Embarrassed To Ask) and one half of the Twin Doctors for TwinDoctorsTV, tells Romper that while vomiting during labor is pretty common, vomiting before isn’t necessarily a sign of labor. “While nausea can occur during early labor, these symptoms occur in the later part of labor known as the transition phase. During the transition phase, labor progresses more quickly, causing larger hormonal fluctuations and increased pain, both of which frequently lead to nausea and vomiting.” However, some reasons you may be vomiting at the end of your pregnancy could be “morning sickness;" worsening heartburn and reflux; or, worst-case scenario, preeclampsia, according to Abdur-Rahman.

“For up to 10% of women, nausea can last throughout pregnancy, and regardless of whether you have morning sickness throughout the pregnancy or if it did wane, most women will experience some nausea as the hormones start to surge during the end of the third trimester,” Abdur-Rahman explains. “Heartburn is almost a rite of pregnancy passage. As the uterus gets larger, it exerts more pressure on the stomach, producing both nausea as well as heartburn/acid reflux. At the end of pregnancy, when the uterus is at its largest, it exerts maximum pressure on the stomach, producing ever worsening reflux.”

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Preeclampsia is when you have high blood pressure during pregnancy, and is “characterized by hypertension, protein in the urine, headaches, visual changes, abdominal pain, as well as nausea and vomiting. Pre-eclampsia is a serious, potentially life threatening condition, and if there is ever a concern, you should contact your medical provider,” Abdur-Rahman says. So if you’re vomiting at the end of your pregnancy, but your blood pressure is normal, there’s probably no need to worry.

Though vomiting isn’t a sign you’re in labor, some physical signs labor is imminent, according to Dr. Mia Di Julio, OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, include “increased pelvic pressure, lower back pain, increased vaginal discharge, passage of the mucus plug, and light vaginal bleeding also known as ‘bloody show,’ which is a result of thinning and dilation of the cervix.”

Di Julio tells Romper that “Severe or persistent nausea is usually not normal. If this occurs, you should contact your OB-GYN or midwife and be evaluated. This can be a sign of preeclampsia, which is a pregnancy related disease in which blood pressure becomes elevated, resulting in negative effects on the liver, kidneys, brain, and the baby if not properly treated.”

Patricia A. Evans, nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife at MemorialCare Medical Group in Fountain Valley, California, adds, “With true labor or early labor, the contractions usually start out 10 to 15 minutes apart, lasting about 30 to 60 seconds, and eventually get closer together into a pattern. Usually when they are 3 to 5 minutes apart, lasting for about a minute each, and for one hour — or if you can’t walk or talk through them — it’s time to go to where you are delivering."

So while vomiting during labor is pretty common, vomiting before going into labor isn’t a sign that you’re about to have your baby. However, if you’re nauseous and vomiting a lot, it’s probably a good idea to get your blood pressure checked by your healthcare provider just in case.

Experts:

Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman, OB-GYN, author of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Pregnancy (But Were Too Afraid or Embarrassed To Ask) and one half of the Twin Doctors for TwinDoctorsTV.

Dr. Mia Di Julio, OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

Patricia A. Evans, nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife at MemorialCare Medical Group in Fountain Valley, California.