We’re just gonna come right out and say it: morning sickness sucks. Like, it might actually be the single worst part of pregnancy other than the part where you have to push a human being out of you.
Plus, it has the most inaccurate name of anything ever because it does not just happen in the morning (seriously… who was in charge of this?).
The only saving grace here is that it’s a first trimester problem. Once you get through the first 12 or 13 weeks, you’re good to go, right?
Here’s what’s probably going on and what you can do to feel better (other than induce labor and get this nausea-provoking baby out of you, already).
If you’re nearing your due date and wondering why you’re still barfing up your breakfast, know that while most cases of morning sickness get better after the first trimester, some just don’t — and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong.
While your initial nausea might have been caused by the sudden change in hormones as your body adjusted to being pregnant, third trimester nausea may be caused by a variety of things:
- Your growing baby. You’re running out of room in your stomach as baby grows, which puts pressure on your digestive system. This can cause everything from constipation to heartburn to nausea.
- Your prenatal vitamin. Some people have trouble digesting the high amounts of iron in prenatal vitamins without GI distress. If your nausea never really went away or if you changed brands mid-pregnancy, it could be causing nausea.
- Your diet. Is baby craving chili peppers? Well, good for baby, but you’re the one suffering the ill effects of spicy, oily, and acid-based foods. Especially with less room in your stomach these days, foods that tend to be irritating to the GI tract can really do a number on you.
- Hormones, again. These do typically level out after the first trimester, but let’s face it: Pregnancy is a hormonal roller coaster because they’re constantly in flux. If your nausea comes and goes by the day, it might be due to the up-and-down nature of your hormones.
If you’ve felt sick during most of your pregnancy, continuing to have symptoms in the third trimester isn’t unusual and can probably be blamed on one of these things.
If feeling excessively nauseated during the third trimester is a new thing for you this pregnancy, you should check in with your doctor.
Your stomach upset could still be caused by your changing body or an external factor like diet. But nausea is also a symptom of a few serious pregnancy conditions. Both preeclampsia (a severe form of high blood pressure) and gestational liver problems, like HELLP syndrome, can cause nausea.
If you’re feeling nauseated during the third trimester, it’s probably a GI issue — everything is getting squished in there, causing your digestion to slow down.
You may also be constipated or have abdominal bloating or gas, or you might have symptoms of reflux, like heartburn and indigestion.
If your changing hormones are to blame, you may also be feeling super tired, just like you did in the first trimester. Pregnancy really is the gift that just keeps on giving, isn’t it?
Your third trimester nausea could also be paired up with loss of appetite, persistent vomiting, and difficulty losing weight. In that case, you might actually have hyperemeis gravidarium, an extreme form of morning sickness that often requires medical treatment.
For the most part, you can treat third trimester nausea the same way you did way back at week 8 of your pregnancy.
Focus on eating smaller, more frequent meals (to avoid becoming overly full) and cutting back on foods that are agitating your digestive system (like those buffalo-style potato chips you can’t stop craving).
You can also:
- sip ginger tea or nibble on ginger gummies
- avoid any triggering foods or odors
- suck on peppermint or lemon hard candies
- snack on carb-heavy foods, like pretzels and crackers
- get extra sleep
- take a B6 supplement (if approved by your doctor)
- make changes to your prenatal vitamin, like splitting doses, changing the timing of doses, or switching to a gummy instead of a capsule
If you’re nauseated all the time and none of these remedies help, contact your doctor. Also give them a call if you’re having persistent vomiting or trouble keeping food or fluids down, even if you think you’ve caught a run-of-the-mill stomach bug.
Pregnant people need to be careful not to get dehydrated, so your doctor may want to monitor your symptoms.
Sometimes you can feel nauseated when labor is getting closer, but you’re much more likely to have nausea during active labor or the transition phase of labor.
Instead of wondering if your queasy stomach is a sign that you’re approaching the Big Day, pay attention to more reliable signs of labor, like:
- loss of your mucus plug
- rupture of the amniotic sac
- back pain
- an increase in the severity and frequency of Braxton-Hicks contractions
Some of us are just unlucky enough to feel sick for 9 months, either intermittently or nonstop through all 3 trimesters.
But feeling nauseated 24/7 during the third trimester — especially if nothing helps alleviate it — is enough of a red flag to see your doctor for an exam. It could just be an unpleasant symptom you have to deal with until the end of pregnancy, but it’s always a good idea to rule out any issues.