If you’re pregnant, you may be paying way more attention to everyday aches, pains, discomforts, and bodily fluids than usual.
Since many common pregnancy symptoms fall into two categories — annoying but totally harmless and warning signs of a serious problem — you may find yourself focusing intensely on each and every burp, fart, cramp, twinge, and craving, wondering whether you should ignore it or call your doctor.
And while you were expecting to do some puking during pregnancy, you might not have expected it to be yellow — and now you don’t know what to do about it.
That’s OK! We do know, and we’re happy to tell you.
Yup, it certainly can be!
Yellow vomit is just stomach acid. When you don’t have any food in your stomach but you’re still throwing up, it’s inevitable that you’ll start vomiting the only thing left in there: bile.
Bile is acid produced by your stomach to help break down your food.
If you’re throwing up first thing in the morning when you haven’t eaten anything yet — or if you’re persistently throwing up — it’s normal to eventually see yellow bile instead of whatever your last meal was.
The most likely reason you’re throwing up yellow liquid during pregnancy is the same reason you’re throwing up anything at all during pregnancy: hormones.
Particularly in the first trimester, pregnancy hormones like estrogen and progesterone are skyrocketing.
You’re also developing higher levels of hCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, as your body accepts the fact that it’s now home to a growing human being (and needs to prepare itself, stat).
So, the puking is normal, but again, because you might be doing it more often than usual and way more often first thing in the morning with an empty stomach, it’s likely to be yellow at least once in a while.
Depending on whether you’ve had any liquids recently and how vigorously you’re throwing up, the consistency of your yellow vomit might vary.
It could be super liquidy and clear, foamy, or even thick and mucousy (yup, nasty). This all falls into the “normal” category.
In addition to your sunshine-colored puke, you may also have the usual morning sickness symptoms:
- a queasy, carsick feeling
- stomach cramps
- loss of appetite
- a bitter or metallic taste in your mouth
Morning sickness usually fires up around the 6th or 7th week of pregnancy, peaks around 9 to 12 weeks, and then tapers off by 12 to 20 weeks. So, if you’re having a lot of yellow vomiting, you can assume it will probably follow that trajectory.
But here’s where we share the bad news: Some stay sick for longer, and some truly unfortunate souls get stuck with morning sickness until they give birth (WHY?!).
It’s not how things usually go, thankfully, so don’t stress about this too much. We just have to put it out there as a possibility.
It helps to settle your stomach after you’ve vomited, so you can maybe catch a few hours of relief.
Sipping nausea-friendly drinks, like peppermint tea and ginger ale, can work wonders. So can nibbling on carbs: Think crackers, toast, dry cereal, pretzels, or plain bagels.
It might be hard to drink water on a queasy stomach, but try to avoid getting dehydrated. If you can’t handle all that liquid going down into your stomach, suck on ice cubes or popsicles, or take small sips from a straw.
Basically, just don’t brush your teeth, as tempting as it is.
Yes, your mouth tastes gross and your breath smells bad. But when stomach acid comes into contact with your teeth (especially if you’re vomiting frequently), it can soften your tooth enamel.
Brushing your teeth when your enamel is softened can actually strip away some enamel, which isn’t great for your teeth in the long run.
If you can’t stand the taste in your mouth, try swishing some water around and then spitting it out again to give your teeth and tongue a good rinse without all the damage.
You can’t necessarily prevent morning sickness — it’s triggered by hormones, which are totally out of your control. (Get used to that, BTW.)
But you can often find a couple of tricks that stave off the worst of it. And you might be able to avoid vomiting of the yellow sort, in particular.
Try the following:
- Eat a small snack right before going to bed or before getting out of bed in the morning. Having something in your stomach might prevent some morning episodes of vomiting and, even if it doesn’t, you won’t be throwing up stomach bile, at least. Protein, like almonds, and carbs are a good choice.
- Don’t skip meals. Consider having something in your stomach at all times, however small. Lots of folks notice their nausea is worse when they haven’t eaten for 2 or 3 hours, so you may want to adopt a constantly grazing approach to food for the time being.
- Avoid excessively spicy foods, which can worsen nausea.
- Get plenty of rest. Some find their morning sickness is worse when they’re tired or running on empty.
- Talk with your doctor about managing your nausea. There may be medications you can use during the worst weeks of morning sickness to avoid throwing up from morning ’til night.
While few get away with zero vomiting during pregnancy, there’s definitely a point when you surpass a “normal” amount of puking and veer into medical condition territory.
This is called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). You can’t just ignore it; left untreated, HG can lead to:
- weight loss
- mental confusion
Typical red flags suggesting you might have HG and not run-of-the-mill morning sickness include:
- vomiting constantly
- not being able to keep down any food
- fainting or dizzy spells
- weight loss of more than 5 percent of your body weight
If you think you might have HG, call your doctor. Also call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- dark urine or inability to pee
- severe headache
- shortness of breath
- dizziness or confusion
- severe pain or cramping in your abdomen
- bloody vomit
- muscular weakness
- vision changes
- vaginal bleeding
- sudden swelling of extremities
- abdominal pain
This could mean your morning sickness isn’t under control, or that you have an infection or other serious medical condition.
Not all nausea is necessarily due to pregnancy. Other things like appendicitis, gallbladder inflammation, and gallstones can still occur in pregnancy.
Throwing up yellow might be alarming, but it isn’t a cause for concern in the majority of cases. It means you’re throwing up on an empty stomach — the yellow stuff is your stomach acid.
You might be able to prevent it by having some food in your stomach first thing in the morning, before you get up, but you won’t be able to stop morning sickness entirely if you’re someone who gets it in the first place.
Thankfully, for most people, morning sickness wraps up by the end of the first trimester (if you’ve been throwing up yellow, that should go away then, too!).