Is Nausea a Sign of Labor

Nausea and Other Signs Your Baby Is About to Enter the World

Several different signs indicate that you're going into labor, and nausea is one of them. In fact, nausea, indigestion and even vomiting are all very common early signs of labor and even can occur during the childbirth process.

Why Women Get Nauseous Before and During Labor

Mother holding her newborn baby child after labor in a hospital.

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Many women feel nauseous about a day or so before labor actually begins. And it can get even worse during active labor.

The digestion process typically stops once you’re in labor, so if you go into it with a full stomach, you might find yourself feeling pretty nauseous as it progresses. Labor contractions can also cause nausea and vomiting.

Woman who get epidurals often find themselves fighting off nausea and vomiting during active labor. This is because epidurals can lead to a sudden drop in your blood pressure.

Other Signs of Labor

  • Frequent Bowel Movements/Diarrhea
    In addition to feeling nauseous, some women have frequent bowel movements and even diarrhea when labor is nearing, about 48 hours beforehand, or right at its onset. This occurs because as labor approaches, a woman’s muscles loosen up in preparation, which in turn can lead to loose stools and diarrhea.

  • Regular Contractions
    Prior to labor, many women feel Braxton Hicks contractions, which usually start sometime during the third trimester. These are referred to as “practice contractions” because they help prepare your body for labor and delivery. Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular, not typically painful, and can often be alleviated by changing position or drinking water.

    When real labor begins, Braxton Hicks contractions are replaced with regular, painful contractions that won’t stop or lighten up if you move positions or hydrate.
  • Back Pain
    While many woman experience back pain at some point during their pregnancy, extremely painful back pain can be a sign of labor. Persistent, dull, lower back pain can also be an early labor sign.

  • Your Water Breaks
    Another sign that your baby is on the way is when the amniotic sac, the fluid membrane that surrounds and protects the baby in utero, ruptures.  

When to See Your Doctor

Mother holding her newborn baby child after labor in a hospital.

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Nausea right before and during labor is very common and happens to a lot of women. But, if you’re so sick to your stomach that you can’t stop throwing up or can’t tolerate liquids, reach out to your doctor—you don’t want to get dehydrated.

And, if you’re experiencing nausea and vomiting three weeks before your due date, definitely call your OB/GYN. Experiencing nausea this early can be a sign of preterm labor.