Gag Reflex During Pregnancy – Why It Happens And What To Do?

Why exactly pregnant women have a gag reflex during pregnancy is still unknown, but it’s usually because of the drastic hormonal change your body is going through. Although the common term for this gag reflex is called “morning sickness,” a pregnant woman can have the gag reflex any time of the day or night.

One of the common symptoms of being pregnant is having a gag reflex. Be it brushing your teeth or getting a particular smell can make you want to throw up.

Pregnancy can be beautiful for many women. To be able to carry a baby for 9 months while your body does everything to nourish and protect that baby is truly a miracle.

Unfortunately, while many women walk around with a perfectly round belly and a glow on their face, many, like me, spend their entire pregnancy suffering through gag reflex and wanting to throw up every now and then.

I remember being a young, first-time pregnant woman. I was relieved when I didn’t suffer from any morning sickness during my initial days of pregnancy.

But little did I know that I found out about my pregnancy too early and that this pregnancy symptom doesn’t usually start till you’re 6 weeks pregnant.

Why do you have a gag reflex during pregnancy?

Gag reflex, commonly called morning sickness, is when a pregnant woman suffers from nausea and vomiting in the morning, but it can happen anytime during the day or at night.

A young pregnant woman is having morning sickness, and is sitting by her toilet in case she has to puke.

Being the most common first symptom of being pregnant, most women come to know about their pregnancy when they get hit by the first wave of morning sickness in their 6th week of pregnancy.

What is the exact cause of morning sickness is not known by anyone, but one can guess that amount of hormonal changes a woman’s body goes through that morning sickness becomes a side effect because of that.

Some women are lucky not to have to suffer through morning sickness at all during their entire pregnancy (whoever you are, I envy you!), but 80% of all pregnant women do endure some degree of morning sickness in the first trimester.

The good thing is that morning sickness usually improves by the second trimester, and even though you’ll still feel like throwing up every time you see bacon (chicken, in my case) or something else, you won’t necessarily throw up anytime during the day or night.

But this isn’t the worst-case scenario. Some women suffer from Hyperemesis gravidarum where they suffer through extreme bouts of morning sickness during their pregnancy because of high hormonal levels. Remember the Duchess of Cambridge? Kate Middleton suffered through hyperemesis gravidarum in all her 3 pregnancies.

This illness can become so bad that the pregnant woman is also at risk of dehydration and losing weight. This condition can also cause dizziness in some women.

The symptoms of this condition usually improve as you go further along with your pregnancy.

Ways to cope with gag reflex during pregnancy

A young pregnant woman is trying to cope with her gag reflex by staying away from certain smells, and drinking lots of fluids.

There are no specific treatments for gag reflex, all you can do is try different things and see what works for you.

For example, eating dry toast worked for me, while ginger cookies did the trick for my sister-in-law.

Stay away from smells that make you throw up

If certain smells make you want to run for your life, better run away from it, don’t try to sustain through it because you’ll definitely throw up.

Pregnancy can get sometimes weird, your favorite meal can become your most hated and disgusting meal during your pregnancy.

So, if you don’t like pickles or even the hint of the slight smell of pickles, kindly give it to someone else and get it out of your house.

Drink fluids

Keep sipping on water throughout the day. Severe morning sickness can cause dehydration and later rush to the emergency room. So, carry a bottle of water with you everywhere you go.

If you can’t seem to keep water down, then try juices or water infused with fruit pieces; they might help hydrate. Sip on ginger ale or add a slice of ginger to your water or tea.

Keep snackin’

Many pregnant women have noticed that they suffer through morning sickness more on those days when they get up hungry in the morning. So, keep something by your bedside, and munch on it from time to time.

You can try eating dry toast, ritz crackers, or cookies that you like. Don’t go overboard on anything and increase your calories very much as this can then lead to weight gain or gestational diabetes.  Try eating gingerbread or ginger cookies as ginger usually helps in digestion and reducing abdominal discomfort.

Sea-band wristlets

These sea band wristlets have successfully helped many pregnant women with their morning sickness. They’re 1-inch- bands that apply pressure on an acupressure point in the inner wrist that is said to help with nausea.

Sea-Band Anti-Nausea Acupressure Wristband for Motion or Morning Sickness, Adult, 1 Pair (Color May Vary)

See price on Amazon

You can buy them at drug store or health food stores.

Take a supplement

Ask your OB/GYN to prescribe you a vitamin or a supplement that can help reduce nausea. Your OB/GYN may also switch your prenatal vitamins with the one that has more vitamin B6 and less iron.

Don’t try to take any medication or herbal supplements without consulting with your doctor first. Remember this is just a phase and the worse will pass through. If you have any doubts or troubles, feel free to discuss everything with your doctor.

Get plenty of rest

Pregnancy doesn’t only have morning sickness; it also makes you tiring sometimes.

Before I knew I was pregnant with my son, I used to be very tired all the time, even on the days when I did nothing, and when I took the test, it was no surprise that I was pregnant.

So, get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and be active on some level as it can help you be more active later in your pregnancy.


Can vomiting hurt my baby?

If a pregnant woman is vomiting it usually doesn’t hurt the fetus but if the morning sickness gets severe it can lead to dehydration.

Is it normal to vomit on an empty stomach?

Yes. It’s absolutely normal to vomit on an empty stomach. Pregnancy can cause morning sickness and you can feel nauseous even on an empty stomach and end up throwing up stomach acid.

Is it normal to be sick throughout the day while being pregnant?

Morning sickness doesn’t necessarily have to take place in the morning only. So, you can get it any time of the day or night. For some women morning sickness lasts throughout the day. In these cases, consult your doctor for some morning sickness medication.


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Located in India and a mother to a joyfully mischievous son, Kelin is the wife of the world’s most patient man and a busy homemaker. When she’s not busy cooking and running after her kid,  you can find her in a corner reading, or penning down words on her laptop. She believes the world will always try to instil ‘mom guilt’ in new mothers, but she goes by the maxim ‘a mother knows best'.

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