Is Third Trimester Morning Sickness Normal?

Plus why it happens and when to get help.

If you’re wondering whether third trimester morning sickness is normal, unfortunately, the answer is yes. Although not all expectant mothers will experience it, morning sickness is a common pregnancy symptom and it can strike during any trimester.

Most commonly morning sickness occurs in the first trimester (as early as the second week after conception). But, for some women, nausea and discomfort in the stomach, followed by an urge to vomit can continue into the second trimester and even right up until the baby arrives. In fact, 15 to 20 per cent of pregnant women may experience morning sickness until the third trimester and 5 per cent of women, up to giving birth, according to the WA Department of Health.

Why does third trimester morning sickness occur and is it normal?

Third trimester morning sickness is completely normal and, despite its name, can occur any time of day. It can be caused by a few factors. These include:

  • The stomach and gastrointestinal muscles relaxing, which causes digestion to slow down and forces food back up the oesophagus
  • The baby’s growing weight inside the uterus, which puts pressure on the stomach
  • Fluctuations in hormones (although this mostly happens during the first trimester)
  • Fluctuations in blood pressure (especially low blood pressure)
  • Eating foods that are hard to digest (e.g. oily, acidic or spicy foods) or large meals may also lead to nausea, vomiting and reflux in the later stages of pregnancy.

How can I manage symptoms of morning sickness?

QLD Department of Health recommends the following steps to deal with morning sickness:

  • Eating small meals at frequent intervals
  • Staying hydrating by regularly sipping fluids
  • Avoid cold drinks as well as beverages containing caffeine like tea, coffee or energy drinks
  • Eating when you feel well
  • Choosing room temperature or cold foods without strong smells
  • Avoiding foods that pose listeria risk (such as deli meats, smoked seafood, soft cheeses and leftovers that are cold or more than 24 hours old)

When should I seek extra medical advice for third trimester morning sickness?

Generally, nausea late in pregnancy is nothing to worry about. However, if it goes and comes back, it may be an indication of an underlying health condition, for example, pre-eclampsia – which is definitely a cause for concern. It’s important to continue reporting how you’re feeling through each stage of your pregnancy to your GP and your pregnancy health care team.

Does advice differ depending on how many weeks pregnant you are?

More than 7 in 10 pregnant women (70 per cent) experience morning sickness in the first trimester (the first 12 weeks). It usually starts around the 4-6 week mark and is at its worst at about 9 weeks. For most, this resolves by the 12th-14th week, although in some it will go and come back around the 27th-28th week.

Regardless of what stage of your pregnancy you are, it’s always best to check with your doctor if you’re concerned about your symptoms.

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