Pregnancy

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Is Vomiting During Late Pregnancy A Sign Of Labor? Experts Explain

Third trimester nausea rears its ugly head.

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When you're in your third trimester, most of us are on the watch for anything that could possibly be a sign of labor — especially lingering morning sickness that just won't quit or perhaps has returned with a vengeance. Seriously, puking in later pregnancy is the worst, but is third trimester 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 end the end of my labor. Could nausea in late pregnancy mean your baby's on the way?

What causes vomiting in the third trimester?

Nausea or vomiting in the third trimester may have a number of causes, says Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman, a board-certified OB-GYN. Just a few reasons you may be vomiting at the end of your pregnancy could include:

  • A return of morning sickness
  • worsening heartburn and reflux
  • preeclampsia — a “worst-case scenario”, says 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 also almost unavoidable for most women during pregnancy, and is particularly common at the end of the third trimester. “As the uterus gets larger, it exerts more pressure on the stomach, producing both nausea as well as heartburn/acid reflux.”

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When should I be concerned about vomiting in the third trimester?

Occasionally, vomiting in the third trimester is a cause for concern. Preeclampsia can be accompanied by vomiting in the third trimester. 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. Preeclampsia is a serious, potentially life threatening condition, and if there is ever a concern, you should contact your medical provider,” Abdur-Rahman says.

If late pregnancy nausea is relentless or severe, you should call your health care provider. “Contact your OB-GYN or midwife and be evaluated,” says Dr. Mia Di Julio, OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

Is vomiting in the third trimester a sign of early labor?

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Though vomiting alone isn’t a sign you’re in labor, some physical that signs labor is imminent, according to Di Julio, 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.”

“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,” adds Patricia A. Evans, nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife at MemorialCare Medical Group in Fountain Valley, California. “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 in the third trimester 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.

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