Editor's Note: We at POPSUGAR recognize that people of many genders and identities have vaginas and uteruses and experience pregnancy, not just those who are women. For this particular story, we interviewed experts who generally referred to people with vaginas and uteruses who experience pregnancy as women.
Yay! You are past your first trimester and morning sickness is safely behind you — or not. For some lucky people, nausea and vomiting is left in the rear view mirror after the pregnancy hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) peaks at around 10 weeks, and then begins to decline around 15 weeks, according to Kecia Gaither, M.D., MPH, FACOG, double board-certified in ob-gyn and maternal fetal medicine, Director of Perinatal Services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln. Others can experience these unpleasant pregnancy side effects for longer.
"It can be normal — or common — to have nausea and vomiting during any trimester, even the third," J. Daniel Woodall, DO, MPH, FACOG, explained to POPSUGAR. But as Dr. Gaither notes, "For most women, morning sickness typically resolves between weeks 16 and 18 of pregnancy." Many times, third-trimester nausea is, as Dr. Woodall says, not concerning. But sometimes, this can be a red flag. We talked to three doctors to find out the difference, and how you can cope with pesky morning sickness until your delivery.
When is third-trimester morning sickness cause for concern?
If your nausea goes away, and then comes back, that is when you may have cause for concern. As Rachel Adams, M.D. of Metropolitan ob-gyn in downtown Baltimore explained to POPSUGAR, "While nausea can occur in the third trimester, if it previously resolved, I would caution moms not to automatically assume it is morning sickness again without consulting their doctor first." She adds, "There are some concerning conditions that could be causing nausea to resurface in the third trimester such as preeclampsia (elevated blood pressure in pregnancy), acid reflux/GERD (indigestion), and other GI disorders that need evaluation and possible treatment." Dr. Woodall adds it is always concerning if you experience signs of dehydration, so see your doctor at once.
What could be causing "normal" nausea in the third trimester?
"If concerning conditions have been ruled out, then it is likely that the enlarged uterus is putting pressure on the stomach leading to nausea," explains Dr. Adams. "Another possibility is the pregnancy hormone progesterone is slowing down how fast the bowels are moving and food is not digesting quickly, leading to nausea." Dr. Woodall adds that certain people are just prone to feel, well, icky throughout gestation: "Some women are at increased risks of persistent nausea throughout pregnancy, including women with pre-pregnancy motion sickness, migraines, and women with prior nausea and vomiting associated with oral birth control pills. Other pregnancy related medical conditions such as multiple gestation, molar pregnancy, and prior pregnancy with hyperemesis increase the risk of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy."
What can a pregnant people do to ease third-trimester nausea?
"The best thing to do is eat several small meals a day instead of three large meals and wait a few hours to lay down after eating," advises Dr. Adams. Dr. Woodall notes oral medications are needed in some cases to resolve nausea. He also offers hope for sufferers of persistent morning sickness, telling POPSUGAR, "The end of the road is near, and 99.9 percent of people are cured with delivery."