Some parts of pregnancy are amazing — that first kick, watching your belly grow, and finding out (if you want to) the sex of your baby.
Other parts of pregnancy can be challenging, strange, and downright terrifying.
Vomiting while pregnant isn’t uncommon.
Everyone knows about morning sickness that can accompany the first few months of pregnancy. If you’ve begun to vomit up blood, however, you might be on the verge of a full-out panic.
First, take a deep breath.
Throwing up blood when pregnant isn’t uncommon, but it is a serious situation and is usually considered an emergency.
We’ll tell you why it happens, what you should do, and when to call your doctor.
Should I Call the Doctor?
Yes. While vomiting during pregnancy is typical, vomiting blood can indicate a much more serious problem, so you should always inform your doctor immediately if you see blood in your vomit.
Your doctor should know immediately if you only spot a small amount of blood in your vomit. If you pass larger amounts of blood in your vomit, it is best to get to an emergency room for an examination as soon as possible.
What Can the Doctor Do?
Your doctor can let you know if you need an examination, which you likely will.
Vomiting can indicate an issue with your upper digestive tract. Your doctor may request that you have an endoscopy, which allows them to see your esophagus and throat.
If you continue to pass blood in your vomit, your doctor may request other tests, such as ultrasounds (like the kind you get on your abdomen to see your baby) or a CT scan. To properly treat you, your doctor needs to determine the source of the blood.
Why It’s an Emergency
Hematemesis, or throwing up blood, can indicate a serious issue, like internal bleeding.
It’s essential to get medical attention right away so that the source of the blood can be identified and treated as necessary.
Even if you aren’t vomiting much blood or only see a tinge of red, brown, or black in your vomit, you should call your doctor immediately.
What Causes You To Throw Up Blood When You’re Pregnant?
There are several reasons why you might vomit blood when you are pregnant. Some are non-emergent situations, but because only a doctor can confirm the source of the blood in your vomit, you still need to be checked.
Your dentist may have warned you that your teeth can become plaque magnets while pregnant.
Hormonal changes can make your teeth more sensitive to the accumulation of plaque.
Because plaque around the gum line can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, you may experience bleeding gums when you brush and floss your teeth or eat. If you see small, thin streaks of red blood in your vomit, it could be coming from your gumline.
Symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis can include:
- Sore, irritated gums
- Tooth sensitivity
- Bleeding during flossing, brushing, and eating
- Blood in the saliva (or vomit)
- Bad breath
If you experience gum and tooth sensitivity, try switching to a sensitive formula toothpaste and using a softer brush.
Also, avoid scrubbing your gums with your toothbrush, which can cause additional irritation.
Talk to your dentist about how frequently you should get cleanings while pregnant. They may suggest having your teeth cleaned more regularly, especially if you deal with pregnancy gum sensitivity.
Irritation in the Upper Digestive Tract
Your mouth and throat can become irritated and raw, especially when dealing with nausea and morning sickness.
Morning sickness, which can happen anytime during the day or night, can cause you to throw up so much that your throat and mouth develop sores or tears.
It’s hard to stomach (pun intended), but vomit contains stomach acids that can burn your throat and mouth. Repeatedly vomiting, like you might if you are experiencing morning sickness, can give the acid more time to irritate these sensitive areas, resulting in bleeding.
Symptoms of irritation in the throat and mouth include:
- Having a sore throat without other sickness-related symptoms (like headache or congestion)
- Feeling pain or irritation inside the mouth
- Noticing small bits of blood, either fresh or dried, in your vomit
If you’re suffering from morning sickness, you’re not alone. Around seven out of 10 pregnant people experience morning sickness during some part of their pregnancy.
Usually, morning sickness is strongest during the first trimester.
While there’s no cure for morning sickness other than the passage of time, there may be ways for you to help get relief, which we’ll cover later.
It’s hard to imagine anything else going on in your abdomen other than baby-growing, but if you’re vomiting blood, there’s a chance you could’ve developed a stomach ulcer.
These open sores occur on the lining of your stomach and are very difficult to heal because they are continually exposed to stomach acid.
If you’ve had a stomach ulcer in the past, there’s a chance it could flare up during your pregnancy.
Symptoms of stomach ulcers include:
- Stomach ache and cramping
- Passing blood (either red or black) in your vomit
- Heartburn, or feelings of burning or tingling in your sternum and throat
- Burping and indigestion
- Feeling bloated
Pregnancy doesn’t cause ulcers.
Typically, bacterial infections, certain medications (like aspirin or ibuprofen), or extreme stress cause ulcers.
It’s not incredibly common, but the blood you see in your vomit may come from your nose.
Blood flow increases during pregnancy, which means there’s more blood pumping through every vein and capillary in your body, including the ones in your nose.
The added surge of blood can lead to nosebleeds, which can be especially common for people who get them frequently when they are not pregnant.
If you are lying down when you have a nose bleed, the blood could come out of your mouth instead of your nose when you vomit.
Symptoms of a nosebleed can be:
- Stuffy nose
- Bleeding when you blow your nose
- Bleeding out one or both sides of your nose
Typically, blood from a nosebleed is bright or dark red.
A Tear in Your Esophagus
Your esophagus is the portion of your upper digestive tract that connects your stomach to your mouth.
If you are vomiting excessively during your pregnancy, it’s possible that this lining could become irritated, raw, and even bleed (as discussed above).
More seriously, an esophageal tear usually happens due to violent vomiting or other added pressure to the esophagus, like alcohol abuse, severe coughing, or stomach infection.
These types of tears, also called Mallory-Weiss tears, can be life-threatening and need immediate medical attention. Esophageal tears usually have other symptoms, like:
- Lightheadedness, or feeling dizzy
- Blood in the stool
- Severe stomach pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Back pain
- Vomit that looks bright red or dark red and resembles coffee grounds
- Looking pale
If you have any of these symptoms, along with throwing up blood, contact your doctor immediately or head to the nearest emergency room to rule out an esophageal tear.
Does Throwing Up Blood Mean I’m Having a Miscarriage?
Every pregnant person asks themselves this question, but generally, vomiting blood is not a symptom of miscarriage, at least not by itself.
The more common signs of miscarriage include:
- Spotting or bleeding like you do on your period
- Lower abdominal cramping
- Vaginal discharge
- Passing blood clots
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
If you experience these symptoms alone or while vomiting blood, seek medical attention immediately.
How To Cope With Vomiting During Pregnancy
Having blood in your vomit is a serious issue; you shouldn’t try a home remedy to get rid of it.
Let your doctor know that you are passing blood when you throw up. Once you and your doctor have resolved the issue, talk to them about your morning sickness.
If your morning sickness is severe, there may be medically approved ways to cope.
Surprisingly, the morning sickness (or all-day sickness) you’re experiencing doesn’t have a definite cause.
It’s likely a result of hormonal shifts, changes in your blood sugar, and various other differences that can make you feel like the room is constantly spinning.
Thankfully, most morning sickness and nausea dissipate as you enter your second trimester and don’t usually return. Here are some tips on how to feel better until then.
Ginger is a natural root plant that can help you feel less nauseated.
You can buy ginger root at the grocery store and add it fresh to tea or water. If your doctor approves, you can also take it in capsule form, but be sure to ensure it is safe for your pregnancy.
While it’s relatively anecdotal, some pregnant people swear by peppermint when they experience nausea and morning sickness.
Chewing a mint, diffusing peppermint essential oil, or sipping on peppermint tea may settle your stomach and help ease feelings of nausea.
As with any herbal tea, avoid more than two cups per day. Many herbs are powerful, and the link between herbs and pregnancy isn’t fully understood.
Get Enough Rest
It can be challenging to keep up with your life, job, and other responsibilities when you first become pregnant, especially if you are dealing with morning sickness.
However, feeling excessively tired can worsen feelings of nausea.
Try to ensure you get seven to nine hours of sleep every night and that you rest and nap throughout your day if you need it and can. Getting enough rest can help you feel less nauseated and possibly avoid more bouts of sickness.
Eat Smaller Meals
Eating large meals can cause your body to digest food longer and cause your blood sugar to spike and fall between meals, which can also cause nausea.
Instead, try breaking up your meals into six smaller portions you eat every two hours.
Eating smaller meals can prevent your blood sugar from rising and falling sharply and help your body digest more quickly, which may lead to fewer occurrences of nausea and vomiting.
Carbonated beverages can help you pass trapped air in your stomach (in the form of a burp), alleviating pressure. Try ginger ale or carbonated water instead of caffeinated sodas.
Caffeine may worsen your nausea and interfere with sleep if you drink it too late in the afternoon.
Supporting a Healthy Pregnancy
Throwing up blood is a serious medical condition considered an emergency. If you notice blood in your vomit, contact your doctor immediately or seek medical attention at an emergency room to rule out the possibility of something more serious.
Staying healthy during pregnancy can be hard work, especially if you find it difficult to keep down your food and prenatal vitamins. If you feel like you’re losing weight, unable to drink enough water, or battling nausea and vomiting all day, talk to your doctor.
Even though pregnancy nausea and sickness are challenging, they usually go away after the first few weeks. To help support the healthiest pregnancy possible and to get answers to some of your most common pregnancy-related questions, check out our blog.
Have a happy, healthy pregnancy, and don’t forget — nausea will not last forever.
References, Studies and Sources:
Bridget Reed is a Tampa-based content development manager, writer, and editor at GR0; specializing in content related to varying fields including medicine, health, and small businesses. Bridget went to St. Petersburg College and majored in Management and Organizational Leadership.
Recent Publications: Body Acne 101: Prevention and Treatment, Stress Acne: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment, What are the Side Effects of Midol?