Why do women vomit during pregnancy?

For the most part, women get mild to moderate nausea symptoms during the first three months (first trimester) of pregnancy. However by the fourth month, the urge to vomit recedes.

Commonly labeled as morning sickness, some women find that the urge to vomit persists throughout the day.

Morning sickness during early pregnancy might be a good sign with studies showing that women with nausea and vomiting during the first trimester have a lower risk of miscarriage than do women without these symptoms.

For some pregnant women however, they experience a more serious condition involving severe vomiting, dehydration and weight loss.


The exact cause of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is not clear. Most evidence points to rapid changes in hormone levels. These fluctuations may cause changes in the muscle contraction and relaxation patterns of your stomach and intestines, thus leading to nausea and vomiting.

The hormones that seem to have the most to do with this process include the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), estrogen and progesterone. Abnormal levels of thyroid hormones have also been reported in women with severe vomiting, although a cause-and-effect relationship remains unclear.

If you have a family history of hyperemesis gravidarum, you are more likely to have the condition. What causes hyperemesis gravidarum remains unknown despite active research. Hormonal, Gastrointestinal and Psychosocial factors are presumed to be responsible.

Hyperemesis gravidarum occurs when a pregnant woman has ongoing vomiting that results in weight loss greater than 5% of her body weight, and evidence of dehydration. Hyperemesis gravidarum is an extreme form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy that sometimes requires hospitalization. It is different from and much worse than morning sickness.

Symptoms of Morning Sickness can also include increased saliva, increased sensitivity to certain smells, and changes in the taste of some foods.

Symptoms usually begin four to eight weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period, peak at about 9-11 weeks, and go away by 14-16 weeks into the pregnancy.

Fever, diarrhea, and severe abdominal pain are not associated with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. If these symptoms occur, be sure to talk with your doctor because it may be something other than morning sickness.


If your symptoms are not severe and you have not already done so, your doctor may suggest you try home care treatments. If you have tried these and are still vomiting, your doctor may suggest fluids be given to you with an IV. Often these fluids contain sugar as well as electrolytes. Many times fluid intake alone (IV or oral) can break the cycle of nausea and vomiting and temporarily make you feel much better.

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