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Updated July 25, 2019
Having morning sickness at night is not unusual among women who suffer from nausea and vomiting during the first trimester of pregnancy.
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Though it is called “morning sickness”, many of us can attest to the fact that it can occur at any time of the day…. even all day!
I had very little nausea and vomiting in the morning. Late afternoon and evening were when it would really hit me. I was one of those lucky ones that had morning sickness at night.
What causes morning sickness?
Current scientific theories behind the cause of morning sickness:
HCG Hormone (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin)
HCG is the “pregnancy test” hormone and it doubles every two days during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Because HCG hormone levels are much higher with twins, this theory may also help explain why women with twin pregnancies often experience more severe morning sickness.
Estrogen is another hormone thought to contribute to morning sickness. The level of Estrogen can increase 100 times higher during pregnancy.
This theory is more difficult to prove because many women with elevated estrogen levels do not experience morning sickness.
Perhaps certain individuals have a predisposition to estrogen causing nausea and vomiting.
Progesterone increases during pregnancy as well. This hormone causes many maternal body changes.
It increases fluid retention, softens pelvic ligaments and relaxes smooth muscle (to prevent uterine contractions).
The effect on smooth muscle also slows down the muscle responsible for digestion and gastric emptying which may contribute to nausea and vomiting.
Though this is unlikely to be a primary cause of morning sickness, due to the metabolic demands of pregnancy, it is advised that women eat more frequent, smaller meals to avoid blood sugar fluctuations which can result in hypoglycemic episodes (low blood sugar).
Hypoglycemia can result in feeling shaky, lightheaded and in some individuals, can precipitate nausea and vomiting.
Clearly during the very early stages of pregnancy, when metabolic needs are minimal, this is unlikely to be the primary cause of morning sickness.
*It is very likely that morning sickness is a result of more than one factor.
The reason for this is because there are many women who have no morning sickness and yet have the same hormonal profiles.
Here are 10 ways to relieve morning sickness at night:
1. Eat a small number of crackers or dry cereal before bed.
Keep crackers or dry cereal next to your bed and eat a little when you feel nauseous. Saltines get recommended a lot, but they made me feel worse.
I preferred a club cracker or even a ritz cracker. Use the one that works best for you.
Some people really find that potato chips help their nausea. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find what works best for you.
2. Get up slowly and avoid sudden movements.
Be sure to stand up slowly. Moving too quickly can make you feel nauseous and lightheaded. Move slowly so your body can adjust gradually.
Use caution and be careful when you bend down to pick items up.
Take your time getting out of bed; try to nibble on some crackers or cereal before you stand up.
3. Never go for a long period of time without food.
Try to eat 5 or 6 meals a day and try not to overload your stomach when you eat. Avoid greasy and fried foods whenever possible.
Eat a bedtime snack, this can help to minimize nausea and vomiting that occurs when your stomach is empty during the night.
Have a snack that contains both a carbohydrate and a protein. Protein will help you feel full longer. Half a sandwich or greek yogurt with berries are great choices.
You don’t want to go long periods without eating, but you do want your dinner to be earlier in the evening so you have time to digest it before bed. Lying down immediately after eating, especially in the third trimester can cause heartburn due to acid reflux.
Doing these simple things can help relieve your symptoms of morning sickness at night.
4. Eat more carbohydrate foods.
As long as you have no blood sugar problems, eat more high carbohydrate foods (Pasta, cereal, and toast) until your nausea subsides. This really worked for me.
I ate pancakes every day for weeks. It was the only thing that kept nausea and vomiting away.
Foods that were high in carbohydrates like bread and pasta also helped reduce my symptoms of heartburn, which helped decrease the morning sickness at night too.
5. Try “decaffeinated Tea”
Decaffeinated tea is a great choice. Be cautious with herbal teas though, you will want to clear drinking them with your provider first.
As an RN, I worked with high-risk pregnant women who were being detoxed from drugs or alcohol. We used decaf tea all the time for their nausea and sleeping difficulties.
Sometimes just having something hot in a liquid form can help settle your stomach.
6. Avoid fatty meals before bed
Fatty or deep-fried foods take a long time to digest and they can increase your chances of nausea and vomiting.
Fatty foods can cause heartburn and indigestion which can lead to more morning sickness at night. It is better to focus on eating complex carbs and proteins in the evening.
You may need to avoid spicy foods in the evenings too.
Do what works for you. Every pregnancy and every woman is different.
Find the foods that work best for you. Maybe you can only tolerate spicy Mexican from your favorite take-out place…That’s OK!
7. Get more sleep.
Fatigue can lead to increased nausea. NEVER feel guilty if you need a nap.
Try to get to bed at the same time each night.
An excellent way to increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep is to use a pregnancy pillow. You can get one: HERE
Another effective way to relax and prepare yourself for sleep is to take a warm bath (not a hot bath), listen to soothing music and light a scented candle (Choose a scent that doesn’t make you nauseous.)
8. Practice relaxation techniques.
Sometimes the best way to decrease your nausea and vomiting is simply to relax. Stress may make you feel more nauseous and make your morning sickness at night worse.
There are lots of options for activities that might help you relax. You will want to find what works best for you.
Here are some suggestions:
- Deep Breathing
- Guided Imagery
- Yoga (Always clear physical activities with your health care provider)
- Adult Coloring Books – A proven method for reducing stress. They even make pregnancy-related ones!
- Bath with Aromatherapy – lemon or orange scents may be especially helpful during Pregnancy
- Journaling can also be an excellent way to relieve stress and anxiety during pregnancy.
9. Try ginger tea or ginger ale.
Ginger tea or ginger ale is the old stand-by for settling an upset tummy, even when not pregnant. Studies have shown that ginger is effective at reducing feelings of nausea.
If you can’t stomach ginger ale or ginger tea you can try ginger candies or even ginger cookies could do the trick.
10. Try to limit computer and other electronic use at night.
There are a few very good reasons for limiting electronic use at night:
- First, electronics can be stimulating and make it harder to fall asleep. This can increase your feelings of morning sickness at night.
- Secondly, electronic devices, including computers, tablets, and smartphones have a strobe effect that may make you more nauseous.
Trying to relax and stay off your favorite app or not binge on your favorite Netflix series can be difficult to do. At least try to take short breaks from looking at the screen.
Here is a list of products that our readers have bought and found helpful in relieving their morning sickness:
Other pregnancy articles you may find helpful:
- 10 Tips to Fight Fatigue During Pregnancy
- The 5 Best Pregnancy Pillows
- 8 Ways To Relieve Low Back Pain During Pregnancy
- 10 First Trimester Pregnancy Tips You’ll Be Glad You Know