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What Can Cause Third Trimester Vomiting?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Feb 09, 2024
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Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of early pregnancy, but some women may become alarmed when these symptoms recur during the final stage of pregnancy. Some of the most common reasons for third trimester vomiting include hormonal fluctuations, the presence of an intestinal virus, or impending labor. Relatively uncommon yet potentially serious causes of vomiting during the third trimester include a condition known as HELLP syndrome and a complication known as pre-eclampsia. Any specific questions or concerns about vomiting in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Gastroenteritis, more commonly referred to as the stomach flu, is a relatively common cause of third trimester vomiting. Additional symptoms may include diarrhea, cramping, or fever. Treatment normally consists of rest and drinking extra fluids to prevent dehydration. These symptoms usually disappear within a few days without any specific medical treatment, but any concerns should be addressed with the obstetrician just to make sure no complications arise.

Hormonal fluctuations are common throughout pregnancy and are the chief cause of vomiting during early pregnancy. Some women may experience vomiting during the third trimester for the same reason. As the body begins to prepare for delivery, hormone surges can cause a variety of symptoms, many of which mimic those from the first part of pregnancy.

In some cases, third trimester vomiting may occur just before labor begins. Diarrhea or loose stools are also common as the body prepares itself for delivery. Increased contractions, spotting, or loss of the mucus plug may be additional signs that the birth of the baby is near.

HELLP syndrome is a rare but potentially serious cause of third trimester vomiting. Vaginal bleeding, pain in the abdomen or shoulder, or a severe headache should be reported to a doctor for further evaluation. The patient will likely be tested for high blood pressure or the presence of protein in the urine. The most successful treatment for this condition is immediate delivery of the baby.

Pre-eclampsia is similar in nature to HELLP syndrome and causes high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and swelling. Rapid weight gain may also occur due to the severity of tissue swelling. The health of mother and baby may be in jeopardy when this condition develops, and delivery of the baby is the only cure. If the pregnancy has not progressed enough for a safe delivery, the mother may be hospitalized and given medications in an attempt to reduce symptoms until the baby is more developed.

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Discussion Comments

By anon324898 — On Mar 13, 2013

I am 37 weeks, 5 days pregnant. For the last five days, I have had vomiting, diarrhea, sore legs and back and also have been having Braxton hicks contractions. The doctor doesn't seem concerned, which concerns me a little. I had morning sickness in the first trimester but it wasn't nearly as bad as this. Anyone have any suggestions?

By ddljohn — On Mar 06, 2012

@ysmina-- Yes, I experienced the same with my second pregnancy and I know how you feel! It was not just nausea and vomiting but even when I wasn't, I had horrible acidity and heartburn. I was taking medication for the nausea and it did help but it wore out kind of quickly. After a couple of weeks, I just accepted it. I don't miss being pregnant at all!

My sister though, had it worse than me, she also vomited all throughout her pregnancy, including the third trimester just like @alisha. She had high levels of human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG). It's the hormone produced during pregnancy. That's why she was vomiting during her third trimester.

By ysmina — On Mar 06, 2012

@alisha-- Mine is not like that. I had vomiting in the first trimester. It was kind of bad for the first two months but then it went away. I'm now 34 weeks and the vomiting is back! I'm so upset. I was thinking that I wouldn't be dealing with this again.

I'm waiting for my appointment next week to see if all is well. I think it is. My mom is a nurse and she checked my blood pressure which was fine. I'm hoping it's just because birth is near.

I'm so ready to give birth and get all better! Is anyone else having vomiting again in the third trimester, even though it went away after the first?

By discographer — On Mar 05, 2012

I was vomiting throughout all nine months of my pregnancy. I had vomiting during the first trimester like all women but it didn't go away. I kept going back to my doctor during the second and third trimester because I was still nauseated and vomiting. They checked out everything and said I was fine. The baby was also fine and was gaining weight normally.

My doctor said that some women have nausea and vomiting all throughout the pregnancy. He also said that it's possibly due to hormone fluctuations. It got a little better towards the end of my third trimester as I learned which foods helped settle my stomach. I ate a lot of crackers between meals and things like oatmeal and mashed potatoes.

I continued to take my vitamins and had regular check-ups to see the baby's weight and health. Thankfully everything was fine despite my vomiting and I had a healthy baby girl weighing six pounds.

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