Throwing up is awful. And it’s even more miserable while in labor. However, there are many ways to stop throwing up during labor, or at least minimize it. Before we jump in, let’s learn a little bit about why a woman may begin throwing up in labor, what it means and when it can happen. Let’s get started!
When Can Throwing Up During Labor Happen?
Vomiting during labor may come with little or no warning. Other women, however, may start out with a little nausea or gagging and then blossom into full blown vomiting. Some women are blessed to experience dry heaving as well.
In my experience, throwing up during labor happens most often right before or during transition, and less often as an early sign of labor. It’s a sign post of transition – which means things are progressing and pushing may happen sooner rather than later!
Throwing up during labor can be caused by hormonal fluctuations or even because of a vaginal exam.
Throwing up discriminates to no one and happens during any kind of birth – vaginal or cesarean.
Some women experience vomiting throughout their entire natural labor. And some women throw up for one labor, but not for their next.
And thankfully, many women don’t throw up at all!
(Feeling queasy yet?)
Is Throwing Up During Labor Helpful?
As a doula, when I see a woman throw up in labor I get excited. No, I am not a mean, crazy doula, but an excited doula because I know vomiting can mean that TRANSITION is coming (is here?) which means PUSHING is coming which means MAMA IS ALMOST DONE! Can I get an amen?!
Ladies, throwing up during labor can help things to progress. It can help speed dilation. It can even cause mom’s water to break!
If anything positive comes from feeling sick during labor, let it be encouragement that labor is progressing, you’re getting closer to the finish line and you get to meet your baby soon. This change of mindset can be that boost of morale that will fuel you through the finish line!
PRO TIP: The puke bags in the hospital rooms are far superior to any bowl, trashcan or toilet. These puke bags make vomiting a breeze and cleaning up vomit never looked so easy! If you feel like throwing up, find one of these bad boys – it’s your new best friend!
Remedies for Throwing Up During Labor
Here are the best remedies to minimize or stop throwing up during labor.
Throwing up during labor can lead to dehydration, which is not helpful for mom or baby.
According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists “Without adequate nutrition, women’s bodies will begin to use fat as an energy source, increasing acidity of the blood in the mother and infant, potentially reducing uterine contractions and leading to longer labor and lower health scores in newborns. Additionally, the studies suggest that fasting can cause emotional stress, potentially moving blood away from the uterus and placenta, lengthening labor and contributing to distress of the fetus.”
Stay hydrated! When in labor you should continue to meet your daily intake of water requirements, if not even more. I like to stick to the 8 ounces of fluids per hour in labor rule.
Chew on ice if drinking isn’t working. DIY electrolyte cubes are the perfect remedy to prevent dehydration during times of nausea and vomiting.
If it comes down to it, don’t be afraid of getting a bag of IV fluids. It’s a simple fix to a potentially big problem.
Eat and Drink Bland Food and Beverages
Sometimes certain foods and beverages may be the culprit behind vomiting during labor. If this is the case, focus on drinking water instead of juices and bland foods such as crackers, broth, banana, etc. When packing a hospital bag for birth make sure to pack a variety of snacks for labor. You never know what will be most helpful!
The three essential oils I take to every birth are lavender, lemon and peppermint. Lemon and peppermint, but especially lemon, are perfect to help prevent, stop or ease vomiting during labor.
The easiest way to use an essential oil during labor is to sniff it straight out of the bottle or put a few drops on the cap and sniff the cap. A cotton ball works well too.
PRO TIP: Put a drop of your most helpful essential oil on the rim of a hospital puke bag. It will help to vomit less but will also help to not smell your own vomit. Ew.
Another remedy to alleviate throwing up during labor is to take a few drops of a ginger tincture.
You know how when you were little your mom gave you ginger ale to calm a queasy tummy? Mother knows best! Ginger has been shown to effectively help with mild vomiting and nausea.
However, conventional ginger ale likely has no ginger in it. For the full effect, you’ll want to use real ginger. A ginger tincture is easy, portable, shelf-stable and effective.
To use, put a few drops in a small amount of tea, water or juice. It’s quite strong!
Alcohol Prep Wipes
Another easy way to ease vomiting during labor is to grab one of those alcohol prep wipes, open it up and sniff it. Nurses and other care providers swear by this remedy – it works and best of all these things are always around.
I’ve heard mixed reviews on this, but for what it’s worth some women have found relief from vomiting during labor by getting in the tub or shower. Hey, it doesn’t hurt to try! One of the biggest helps during all of labor is that if something isn’t working, try something new.
Cold Washcloth or Ice
For many women, a cool wash cloth on the neck or face is extremely helpful when dealing with vomiting during labor. For an added effect, add ONE drop of peppermint essential oil for a pleasant cooling sensation. (Caution: Be sure to fold the wash cloth so that the essential oil doesn’t touch the laboring mother’s skin.)
Another way to alleviate vomiting is to place ice on the back of the neck. Of course, use a bag and/or washcloth so that the ice isn’t directly on mom’s skin. Unless she likes it! If she likes it, keep doing whatever she says.
Sometimes, it is wise and compassionate to use medicine to alleviate nausea and vomiting during labor. Talk with your care provider to determine the best course of action for you and your family.
Sometimes an antacid like Zantac can be very helpful to minimize nausea and vomiting.
However, sometimes Zantac isn’t enough and medicines like Zofran or Phenergan are needed. To read more about Zofran head on over here. From what I’ve heard, the biggest complaint with Phenergan is constipation.
Unfortunately, some women find relief from vomiting during labor only after giving birth. For those that will experience this, my heart goes to you. Stay the course, keep hydrated and know that you can do anything for a day. You’ve got this, mama!
Throwing Up During Labor
Did you throw up during labor? Did anything help? Leave me a comment and let me know your experience.