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Can Morning Sickness Just Be An Upset Stomach?

Can Morning Sickness Just Be An Upset Stomach?

Morning sickness and upset stomach are two very different conditions and they are not one and the same thing. While morning sickness is nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, upset stomach is an illness not specific to pregnancy. Yet, there is a very fine line between the symptoms of morning sickness and upset stomach and the symptoms can overlap, making them confusing all the more. When pregnant they both can be confused with each other or can accompany each other.

The overlapping symptoms of morning sickness and upset stomach include nausea, vomiting, fatigue and dizziness. In addition to these symptoms, upset stomach due to a bug would also include fever, stomach cramps and diarrhea. While morning sickness would include tenderness in breasts and soreness all over the body along with heightened sense of smell and excessive salivation. While the symptoms of morning sickness will last several months, upset stomach is surely going to improve in the following 3-5 days.

Can Morning Sickness Just Be An Upset Stomach?

If you are observant of your symptoms during pregnancy, it won’t be hard for you to differentiate between morning sickness and upset stomach. Morning sickness or upset stomach, it is important to watch your diet and eat healthy foods and would be a good idea to eat bland diet (bananas, chicken soup, rice, toast, applesauce), lean meats, potatoes, vegetables, fruits and keep yourself hydrated. Avoiding high fat, fried and spicy foods is good for both morning sickness and upset stomach. Personal hygiene is also very important when having upset stomach as the chances of UTI increases. It is best to avoid anti-diarrheal medications when pregnant. If diarrhea still persists even after taking precautions then you must consult your doctor.

Upset stomach or indigestion is a feeling of uneasiness that leads to a feeling of nausea, upper abdominal pain, vomiting or heartburn. This is related to the inflammation of the lining of stomach and could be caused by virus, bacteria, parasites or stomach acids caused by gastroparesis, dyspepsia or stomach ulcers. Upset stomach symptoms can be managed with over the counter medications, such as TUMS, Zantac, Pepto-Bismol and other medications that help ease the acidity. There can also be symptoms of diarrhea and constipation, if it is caused by stomach bugs. If upset stomach is caused due to stomach bugs, the symptoms usually subside in 3-5 days.

Upset Stomach In Pregnancy

Constipation is very common in pregnancy due to various reasons, such as repeated feeling of NVP can lead to reduced intake of food and water. Hormonal changes, such as increased levels of progesterone (which relaxes smooth muscles) and reduced levels of motilin (which stimulates gastric activity) can lead to reduced motility of foods through the stomach leading to constipation. Other causes include increased pressure to the rectum by the growing fetus in later pregnancy and iron supplements can also worsen constipation.

Diarrhea is generally caused by stomach flu leading to watery feces. It is a well known fact that pregnancy lead to immune system suppression, which can further compound a stomach bug infection. The infection that would pass off without being noticed when non-pregnant would show symptoms in pregnancy. Upset stomach usually clears off within 3-5 days.

Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is a feeling of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. This feeling is more pronounced in the first trimester and early second trimester of pregnancy that is experienced by almost 8 in 10 women. It is an unsettling feeling that can be brought about by changes in the hormones when pregnant, such as increased levels of human chorionic gonadotropin hormone, or may be related to family history or just an evolutionary preventative mechanism. Morning sickness is pronounced by heightened sense of smell that may be triggered by smells that would have been bearable when non-pregnant. Morning sickness is pregnancy can be to a greater extent alleviated by lifestyle changes in diet and some alternative therapies and if need be medications.


  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). (2018). Morning Sickness: Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy. Link: https://www.acog.org/patient-resources/faqs/pregnancy/morning-sickness-nausea-and-vomiting-of-pregnancy

  2. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Morning Sickness: Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy. Link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/morning-sickness/art-20047911

  3. Cleveland Clinic. (2019). Pregnancy and Upset Stomach. Link: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9680-pregnancy-and-upset-stomach

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 16, 2023

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