Morning Sickness at Night

One of the most common problems of pregnancy is morning sickness. It usually starts in the first half of the first trimester and goes away by the end of this trimester. Some women, unfortunately, have morning sickness that lasts the entire pregnancy. The term "morning sickness" is a bit of a misnomer because women don't always get sick in the morning. There are a fair proportion of women who get morning sickness at night. It all depends on your hormones and your sensitivity to them during pregnancy.

Is There Such a Thing as "Morning Sickness at Night"?

Morning sickness, also referred to as "nausea and vomiting of pregnancy", can actually occur any time of the day or night. It has been called morning sickness because most women suffer from it in the morning hours and have resolution of their symptoms as the day progresses. For some women, this type of pregnancy-related symptom can happen at any time and you can suffer from morning sickness at night.

Some women don't get much in the way of pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting, while others have a severe problem with it. Statistically, almost half of all women who are pregnant have both nausea and vomiting together, while another one-fourth has just nausea and the lastone-fourth has no symptoms at all. The peak onset of symptoms is six weeks gestation, but some women get it as early as their fourth week. The symptoms peak in the middle of the first trimester and go down from there.  Half of all pregnant women who suffer from morning sickness feel completely better by 14 weeks gestation. The rest of them (at least most of them) get better in another month. A few women suffer from queasiness and vomiting the entire pregnancy and suffer from morning sickness at night.

Mom's Experiences with Morning Sickness at Night

"I felt perfectly fine in the morning and thought that was all the nausea I could expect. Then I took a nap and when I woke up, the waves of nausea hit me. I felt as though I was going to vomit as soon as I woke up. I seem to have most of my morning sickness at night." --- Amanda

"I never felt much sickness during the daytime hours but at night, I had to sleep with a garbage can by my bed. This lasted for several weeks. It seemed to help if I ate some kind of food right before bedtime; I felt less night time nausea and slept better. I also put a glassful of ice next to my bed every night. When the ice melted, it formed really cold water so that when I woke up at night and sipped it, it really helped my symptoms." --- Bella

"I wonder if it is possible to get morning sickness at night. I am currently almost five weeks pregnant. This isn't my first pregnancy, so I was really taken aback when I woke up in the early morning hours with vomiting. I vomited the entire rest of the night and still don't feel very well. I am new to morning sickness that happens in the night as I didn't suffer from it with my other two pregnancies. In some ways, it feels like I have the flu." --- Kimberly

What Causes Morning Sickness at Night?

The exact cause of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is not completely known. Many doctors feel that it is related to a combination of the pregnancy-related changes occurring during the first part of pregnancy. Some possible reasons for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy include the following:

  • High levels of HCG. HCG or human chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone that begins to show up as soon as the implantation of the embryo and increases rapidly through the entire first trimester. The nausea usually gets worse as the HCG levels peak so many believe it is the cause of the vomiting. Women with twins or triplets have higher HCG levels and also have more nausea and vomiting during their pregnancy.
  • High estrogen levels. Estrogen levels also increase markedly during pregnancy and may be the culprit when it comes to having nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. There are other hormones, like progesterone, which may play a role in getting these symptoms.
  • Sensitivity to smells. Women in pregnancy have a heightened sense of smell and are more likely to be turned off by smells of certain foods. This triggers the gag reflex and leads to vomiting. Some experts think that the increase in sensitivity to smells comes from increased estrogen levels but no one is sure.
  • Having a sensitive stomach. Women who are pregnant tend to have more delicate stomachs when compared to their pre-pregnancy state. An infection with H. pylori may trigger this kind of stomach sensitivity, and result in nausea and vomiting.
  • Increased stress. In some research studies, nausea and vomiting of pregnancy has been linked to increased stress and an abnormal stress response. It isn't known if the stress causes the symptoms or the symptoms themselves lead to increased stress.

How to Relieve Morning Sickness at Night

Besides taking anti-nausea medication, there are things you can do to help relieve morning sickness that occurs in the nighttime. Some of these include the following:

  • Eat something before bedtime. As the nausea often takes place on an empty stomach, eating something before retiring for the night can help reduce the nocturnal symptoms. Try for a balance between protein and carbs.
  • Keep a snack by the bed. Things like plain cookies or crackers that you can munch on at night may be all it takes to keep a little bit of something in your stomach, which relieves the nausea.
  • Stay away from fatty meals. If your evening meal is spicy, rich, and fatty, it can cause irritation of your gastrointestinal tract, leading to nighttime symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
  • Get plenty of rest. Fatigue can lead to nausea and vomiting. Be sure to get 7-9 hours of sleep at night and take naps if you need to. The rest will be soothing to your stomach.
  • Wear an acupressure band. These are bands worn on your wrists that press on an acupressure point on the inner aspect of the wrist, which can relieve nausea.
  • Try lime or lemon. The essential oils of these fruits and the scent of ginger can relieve nausea and vomiting. You can even drink ginger tea or take ginger in capsule form.
  • Eat foods that comfort your stomach. There are certain foods that can relieve nausea and vomiting. These include high carb foods and high protein foods. The best foods you can eat are those that aren't spicy and don't have strong odors. Bland foods are best.
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