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Pregnancy Sickness At Night: Causes, Risks And Treatment

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Pregnancy sickness at night may make women experience nausea and vomiting, especially in the morning. Therefore, the condition is primarily called nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP) or morning sickness (1) (2). Almost 85% of pregnant women experience morning sickness, which may begin a few weeks after conception to several months into pregnancy (3) (4). Nevertheless, each woman may have a different experience with morning sickness, and you must not hesitate to consult a doctor if you have any concerns related to it.

Read this post to learn the various causes, risk factors, and treatment options for morning sickness.

What Are The Causes Of Pregnancy Sickness At Night?

While the exact causes of pregnancy sickness are not fully understood, they are similar to that of pregnancy sickness at night. Some of the possible causes may include (5)

  • Blood pressure fluctuations, particularly reduced blood pressure
  • Carbohydrate metabolism changes
  • Pregnancy-related physical and chemical changes
  • Urinary tract infections(UTIs), which are common in pregnancy (6)
  • Acid reflux (heartburn) caused by hormonal changes; however, nausea caused by acid reflux is different from NVP (7).
  • A Helicobacter pylori infection that causes gastrointestinal symptoms during pregnancy (8)

Who Are At An Increased Risk Of Pregnancy Sickness At Night?

Certain factors that may increase your risk of developing severe pregnancy sickness include (6)

  • Obesity (BMI over 30)
  • History of sickness while taking oral contraceptives with estrogen
  • Family history of motion sickness
  • Stress during pregnancy
  • First pregnancy
  • History of severe vomiting in a previous pregnancy

What Are The Complications Associated With Pregnancy Sickness?

As pregnancy sickness can occur at any time throughout the day, it can considerably interrupt your everyday life. However, it does not pose any risks to the unborn child and normally stops between the 16th and 20th weeks of pregnancy.

However, NVP can sometimes last throughout the pregnancy, called hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of pregnancy sickness. It is a serious condition that may increase your risk of dehydration and malnutrition as your body may not get enough fluids and nutrients from your diet because of excessive vomiting. If you develop hyperemesis gravidarum, you may be hospitalized to receive specialist treatment with intravenous (IV) fluids and medicines (1) (6).

How To Manage Pregnancy Sickness?

While you cannot prevent pregnancy sickness at night, it can be managed with lifestyle and diet changes. Here are some such changes recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to help ease nausea during pregnancy (1) (2) (6):

  • Consume ginger directly or in supplements and foods, such as ginger tea and ginger cookies, to relieve nausea, but it may not prevent vomiting. 
  • Avoid odors and foods that trigger your NVP symptoms. If an odor bothers you, try sucking on peppermint or sniffing sliced lemon. 
  • In the morning, get up slowly and sit on the bed for a few minutes before getting out of bed. You could also munch on something bland, such as crackers, before getting up.
  • Eat small meals five or six times a day. After meals, sit upright for a while and do not let your stomach become too empty or full.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and water during the day. Bubble (or carbonated) drinks between meals can also help ease nausea.
  • Try cooling down or freezing milk, juice, or food if you’re unable to bear their smell.
  • Take short walks in fresh air or sleep with open windows to get plenty of fresh air.
  • Follow a BRATT diet(bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, and tea), which is low in fat and easy to digest.
  • Take plenty of rest and try acupressure or motion sickness wristbands. 

What Are The Pharmacological Treatments For Pregnancy Sickness?

While lifestyle and dietary changes can help ease NVP symptoms, you may sometimes require medications for symptomatic relief. Some of the medications may include (2)

  • Anti-sickness medicines or antiemetic drugs can help relieve severe nausea and vomiting that do not improve with lifestyle modifications. Your doctor may administer injections if you cannot take them orally (6).
  • Taking 10–25 mg of vitamin B6 supplements every eight hours, as recommended by the ACOG
  • Doxylamine, an over-the-counter (OTC) drug for sleeping, also helps with NVP symptoms. However, ask your doctor before taking any OTC drugs (9).
  • If heartburn or acid reflux causes nausea and vomiting, taking OTC antacids can help. Also, avoid eating spicy and oily food (7).
  • Prenatal vitamins can sometimes cause nausea. Chewable multivitamins with folic acid may help in this case.

When Should You Call A Doctor?

Contact your obstetric care provider if you experience the severe symptoms listed below along with vomiting (6):

  • Inability to keep food or fluids down for 24 hours
  • Feeling severely fatigued, dizzy, or faint when standing up
  • Abdominal pain
  • High body temperature
  • Blood in vomit
  • Weight loss
  • Inability to sleep or perform daily activities (10)
  • Hyperemesis gravidarum (1)

Can Pregnancy Sickness Harm The Baby?

No. In fact, studies have shown that pregnancy sickness or NVP in the early weeks of pregnancy may indicate that the placenta is healthy and growing well. It is because NVP is mainly caused by increased female hormones (estrogen and progesterone), which is a direct result of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) from a healthy placenta (2).

Morning sickness or NVP affects most pregnant women and can even occur at night. Pregnancy-related physicochemical and endocrinological changes are possible causes, but UTI, acid reflux, or H.pylori infection can also cause nausea and vomiting. Some lifestyle and dietary changes may help relieve NVP symptoms. However, if you suffer from severe NVP throughout your gestation, it may be due to hyperemesis gravidarum, which may necessitate hospital care.

References:

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Reshmi Das

Reshmi Das has over three years of experience as a clinical coordinator, medical content writer and medical conference coordinator. Her continuous interest in medical journals and writing makes her write well-researched articles for MomJunction. She writes health and wellness articles for children and pregnant and lactating women. Reshmi has completed her Master’s degree in Biotechnology. She is currently pursuing an Executive... more