What is it?
Morning sickness in late pregnancy is the same type of nausea and vomiting associated with the first trimester (which can occur at any time of the day), except it happens in the second or third trimesters.
It is not the same as hyperemesis gravidarium, which is a continual period of morning sickness, sometimes lasting throughout the entire pregnancy. Late pregnancy nausea and vomiting often start again after morning sickness has stopped after the first trimester, and it can be very frustrating if it does re-appear.
It happens because of bodily changes that happen in the last few months of pregnancy such as:
- the stomach and gastrointestinal muscles relaxing so much that digestion slows down, forcing food back up the oesophagus
- pressure on the stomach from the growing weight of the baby in the uterus
- hormonal fluctuations (not as common as in the first trimester but still possible).
Nausea and vomiting are more likely to happen later in pregnancy when a pregnant woman:
- eats certain foods that are hard to digest (very oily, acidic or spicy foods)
- eats large meals
- is already suffering from reflux.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms are obviously nausea and vomiting, for more than two days in a row. Women who are vomiting regularly need to speak to their doctor so they can be monitored for dehydration, just as they would be in the first trimester.
Generally late morning sickness is nothing to be too concerned about, however women should pay attention if it occurs in conjunction with any of the symptoms listed below:
- swelling in the face, arms or legs
- regular cramping or contractions
- blurred vision
- high fever
- bleeding (including seeing blood in vomit).
Nausea and vomiting with other symptoms can sometimes be a sign of food poisoning, a gastro bug, a stomach virus, an infection, pre-eclampsia or even labour. Sometimes infections trigger labour, which can be a problem if it is too early for the baby to be born. All of these things require immediate medical attention.
What's the treatment?
Simple treatments such as antacids and anti-nausea medication can help, along with other morning sickness remedies. It is important to stay well hydrated and eat foods that are easy to digest.
Does it affect the baby?
Morning sickness in late pregnancy only affects the baby if the mother becomes very dehydrated or isn’t eating enough to pass on nutrients for the baby to grow. If a woman is vomiting so much that she is at risk of becoming dehydrated or malnourished, she will be monitored and given fluids intravenously to protect her and the baby.
Facts verified by Dr Andrew Zuschmann. Dr Andrew Zuschmann is a Miranda-based fertility specialist, obstetrician and gynaecologist.