Causes and risk factors of vomiting during pregnancy

While hormones are likely to blame for morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum, certain factors increase the risk of dealing with one or both problems during pregnancy. For example:

  • You’re expecting multiples (twins, triplets, or more).
  • You have a personal or family history of vomiting during pregnancy.
  • You’re sensitive to certain smells or tastes.
  • You have a history of migraines.
  • You have a history of motion sickness.

The biggest risk for foodborne illness is eating raw, undercooked foods, or fruits and vegetables that haven’t been washed.

Keep in mind that while the above are common causes of vomiting during pregnancy, other problems could arise during a pregnancy that may cause vomiting, too. These include:

Complications or side effects of vomiting during pregnancy

Run-of-the-mill morning sickness during pregnancy is uncomfortable, but you’re not likely to experience major complications.

But if you develop hyperemesis gravidarum, severe vomiting can lead to dehydration or decreased urination. And if you’re unable to replenish your fluid level, you may need to be hospitalized and receive intravenous (IV) fluids.

This condition can also cause liver damage, a B-vitamin deficiency, and poor growth weight in your developing child, so it’s important to discuss your options with a doctor.

Foodborne illnesses are nothing to play with, either. These illnesses, which can include salmonella poisoning and listeria, can cause premature delivery and even a miscarriage.

It’s also important to note that different types of vomiting can cause different issues. So while morning sickness might not lead to dehydration, hyperemesis gravidarum or a foodborne illness can, depending on the severity of vomiting.

Treatment for vomiting during pregnancy

Treatment for vomiting during pregnancy depends on the underlying cause, as well as the severity.

In the case of morning sickness, eating healthy snacks throughout the day like crackers or dry toast may lessen nausea and vomiting. For some women, morning sickness is worse on an empty stomach.

Sometimes, alternative therapies, such as aromatherapy, acupuncture, and acupressure can also provide relief.

Other ways to relieve symptoms include:

  • sipping on water or ginger ale
  • avoiding triggers, such as certain foods and smells
  • taking prenatal vitamins
  • using anti-nausea/anti-vomiting medications (if advised by a doctor)

Speak with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications.

The same treatments can reduce the intensity of hyperemesis gravidarum. But because vomiting is more severe with this condition, you may need to receive nutrients and fluid through an IV in the hospital.

Your doctor may also prescribe medicine to stop nausea and vomiting. If these medications don’t work, you may need a steroid treatment.

Many foodborne illnesses have to run their course, but you should feel better within a few days. The main goal is to replace lost fluid and avoid dehydration. Eating small meals, sipping on Ginger ale, and drinking water or sports drinks can help you feel better and prevent dehydration.

But you should still speak with your doctor. If you have a foodborne illness caused by bacteria, you may need an antibiotic.

When to call a doctor

You don’t need a doctor for morning sickness that isn’t severe. Home remedies may be enough to cope with symptoms.

You should, however, call a doctor if you’re vomiting multiple times a day, and if you experience other symptoms like dizziness, a fast heart rate, or if you can’t keep liquids down.

While vomiting during pregnancy can be miserable, it’s also common and usually nothing to worry about. It happens in many pregnancies and doesn’t mean there’s a problem with you or your baby. But if you have any concerns or need reassurance, don’t hesitate to call your doctor.