Vomiting is so common in pregnancy that some women first discover they’re expecting when they suddenly can’t hold down their breakfast.
In fact, up to 90 percent of pregnant women have nausea and vomiting, usually in the first trimester. Fortunately, this so-called “morning sickness” (which can happen at any time of day) typically goes away by week 12 to 14.
So you’re used to the vomiting, but one morning you spot a red to brown tinge in your vomit — blood.
While vomiting blood during pregnancy (or any time) isn’t a good sign, it does happen. It even has a medical name, hematemesis.
There are several common health reasons for why you may be vomiting blood during pregnancy. Most of these will go away on their own after your first trimester or after you’ve had your baby. But all require a check-in with your doctor.
While vomiting is normal during pregnancy, vomiting blood is not. See your doctor right away if you see blood in your vomit.
We’ll give you the bottom line first: See your doctor right away if you have blood in your vomit.
Some of the causes for vomiting blood have to do with the upper part of your digestive tract — your mouth, throat, esophagus (the tube from your mouth to your stomach), and stomach. Your doctor may take a closer look at your esophagus with an endoscopy.
Your doctor might also recommend some other tests and scans, such as:
- oxygen readings
- blood tests
- an MRI
- a CT scan
- an X-ray
Is vomiting blood a sign of miscarriage or pregnancy loss?
Vomiting blood on its own is not a sign of a miscarriage. Your pregnancy is likely still fine. However, if you have other specific symptoms along with vomiting blood, there might be cause for concern.
Get urgent medical attention if you also have:
Your gums might be more sensitive and bleed because pregnancy hormones increase the flow of blood to the gums.
You might have other symptoms like:
- red gums
- swollen or puffy gums
- tender or inflamed gums
- sensitivity when you eat and drink
- receding gums (your teeth look a bit longer)
- bad breath
You may not notice it, but all the pregnancy vomiting might make your sensitive gums even more irritated and sore. This can lead to gum bleeding, and the blood can show up when you vomit. Not a pretty mix.
While pregnancy gingivitis can happen even if you have good dental health, brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once a day can help keep your gums healthy — and prevent the bleeding.
Pregnancy increases blood flow everywhere, even in your nose. This can make the blood vessels inside your nose swell up.
More blood and wider blood vessels can make you more likely to have a nosebleed while you’re pregnant — even if you don’t normally get them.
Depending on where in your nose the bleed is, or if you’re lying down, the blood may not trickle out of one or both nostrils. Instead, the blood may flow to the back of your throat or mouth and come out if you happen to throw up shortly after.
Blood from a nosebleed may be bright red to dark red. You’ll likely also have a stuffy nose — another fun part of pregnancy!
Mouth or throat irritation
If you’re seeing small bits of blood, or dark, dried blood in your vomit, it might be from your throat or mouth.
Too much vomiting can irritate the lining and back of your throat. This is because vomit is usually mixed with acidic stomach juices.
You’ve probably felt the acid burn at the back of your throat if you’ve ever had bad heartburn. This can lead to bleeding, or crusting, that’s carried out when you vomit again.
Your throat and mouth might also feel sore, raw, and swollen.
Esophageal irritation or tear
The esophagus tube runs from the mouth and throat down to the stomach. Vomiting a lot can irritate the lining of the esophagus. This can lead to small amounts of blood or dried blood in your vomit.
More serious bleeding might be caused by an esophageal tear. This condition is rare — but serious — and can happen any time during pregnancy. Fortunately, it’s a less common cause of bleeding while vomiting in your first trimester.
An esophageal tear happens when there’s too much pressure inside the stomach or esophagus. In rare cases, this can happen later in the third trimester of pregnancy. This might be because of a combination of carrying more weight and having other health conditions.
More common causes of an esophageal tear include:
- alcohol misuse
- a hernia
- high blood pressure
- severe coughing
- stomach infections
If you have an esophageal tear, you’ll likely see a lot of bright red blood in your vomit. You might also have other serious symptoms, such as:
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- difficulty breathing
- serious heartburn
- severe stomach pain
- back pain
- abnormal tiredness
- dark or tarry poop
Stomach ulcers are open sores in the lining of your stomach. Sometimes, these tiny wounds can bleed and you might see bright red or dark blood in your vomit.
If you’ve had stomach ulcers before, they might cause problems again while you’re pregnant.
Stomach ulcers are usually caused by:
- a bacterial infection (called H. pylori)
- taking medications like aspirin and ibuprofen
- too much stress
A stomach ulcer can worsen nausea and vomiting while you’re pregnant. You might also have symptoms like:
- stomach pain or discomfort
- feeling full easily
- weight loss
Medical treatment for blood in your vomit depends on the cause.
If you have a stomach ulcer, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to clear it up. Changing your diet and avoiding over-the-counter medications like aspirin (unless your OB-GYN advises it as part of your pregnancy regimen) can also help.
Your doctor may recommend medication to help ease the nausea and vomiting. Check with your doctor before taking over-the-counter medication. Some common drugs for nausea might not be right for you during pregnancy.
More serious causes of blood in your vomit — like an esophageal tear — may need medications and even surgery to repair.
Home remedies for vomiting
Until you talk to your doctor about the cause of the blood in your vomit — which you should do right away — don’t pursue home remedies for throwing up blood.
If you get treatment for the cause but are still struggling with difficult morning sickness, again talk to your doctor about solutions.
Remember, even natural remedies and herbs are powerful drugs. Some may even give you more heartburn or stomach irritation, which could worsen the issue!
A tried and tested home remedy for nausea and vomiting is ginger. In fact, a 2016 medical review found that ginger helped improve nausea and vomiting in pregnant women who took 250 milligrams (mg), 4 times a day.
Try adding fresh ginger to tea, water, or juice. You can also use ginger powder, syrup, juice, capsules, or tablets, as well as candied ginger and dried ginger.
Other home and natural remedies for nausea and vomiting include:
- vitamin B-6 (likely already in your prenatal vitamin)
- certain juices, like cranberry or raspberry
Vomiting blood during pregnancy has more to do with you than your baby. But it can cause health concerns for both of you. Tell your doctor if you spot any amount of blood in your vomit. Don’t ignore it.
You may not need any treatment at all. If you do, the right treatment can help prevent complications.
Serious bleeding inside your body can lead to health complications like too much blood loss and shock. Signs and symptoms that something might not be quite right include:
- severe nausea and vomiting
- fast, shallow breathing
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- blurred vision
- cold or clammy skin
- not peeing enough
- dark poop or blood in your poop
Blood in your vomit is definitely not nice to see. However, there are several simple reasons that you might be vomiting blood.
The vomiting and retching itself could be causing it. Other side effects of pregnancy may also be to blame.
Let your doctor know if you see blood in your vomit. A checkup is important, just in case there’s another cause for the blood.
You may need medication or other medical treatments. Treating the cause quickly and properly can help keep you and your baby healthy.