How to Get Good Sleep During Pregnancy
Getting enough sleep while you are pregnant can be a bit tricky as the shifting hormones in the body are on the loose. The rise in the human chorionic gonadotropin and progesterone levels during gestation is the reason for most of the changes in and outside of the body. First time moms do not fully grasp this situation up until they felt the sleepiness and nausea during the first few weeks of pregnancy. On the other hand, women who have had kids already have an idea that they will lack sleep and they will start to strategize ways to compensate this loss. Aside from the symptoms, expectant mom lose a lot of sleep due to the emotions and worries that come with balancing pregnancy, motherhood, being a wife, and work. Though it might be hard, pregnant woman must find ways to manage sleep problems early on.
First trimester of pregnancy lasts until the 13th week. This is a gruelling period as you will experience “morning sickness” day after day. Expect that you will feel more tired in these weeks as the body is working double time to build a conducive environment for the fetus. The metabolism of the body becomes rapid to accommodate the changes and this affects your sleeping patterns. Here are the solutions you can try:
- Drink caffeinated drinks in the morning or after lunch. Cut down on thid kind of drinks after 4PM as these will make you more restless at night.
- Take 15-minute power naps at work or your parked car if you are not at home.
- Do early morning workouts which is said to promote a good sleep.
- Wear an eye mask when taking a nap to calm the body. The darkened environment will add comfort while you sleep.
The whole nine months of pregnancy will be filled with episodes of fatigue and drowsiness. Second trimester will be a bit easier to endure but symptoms will still come and go. The difficulty in sleeping will come back by the third trimester. Apart from this, women at 34 to 39 weeks of pregnancy is set to face these obstacles:
- Back pain is the most common complain of expectant mothers. This pain is caused by the stretching of the muscles and ligaments to make room for the growing baby. Back pain also leads to sleep disruption as the mother will struggle to find a comfortable position to sleep.
- The dropping of the baby by week 34 will cause the bladder to collide with the expanded uterus. Frequent urination at night is prevalent at this stage.
- Pregnant who are likely to be sleepless at night will also experience Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). This disorder causes weird and unpleasant sensations on the legs.
- Difficulty in breathing while pregnant can either be caused by congested nasal passages or blockage of the airways due to weight gain. There are instances that this condition lead to sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea during Pregnancy
Sleep apnea is a condition where there is alarming pauses in breathing while a person sleeps. A pregnant women with sleep apnea tends to discontinue breathing for a few seconds then breathes again spontaneously. This pattern can repeat many times during sleep.
There are many reasons attributed to sleep apnea during pregnancy. One reason is that the pregnancy hormones block the mucous membranes of the airways thus causing congestion and entrapment of the air inside. Second, excessive weight puts pressure on the airways which stand in the way of the normal airflow.
Sleep apnea is accompanied with loud snoring while the affected person sleeps at night or when it’s daytime, there will be extreme sleepiness. If you are confused whether you are suffering from pregnancy symptoms or sleep apnea, consult your obstetrician and the OB can administer several test to find the cause of your woozy feeling.
When sleep apnea in pregnant woman is left untreated, it can decrease oxygen levels in the blood. This will occur since the lesser air you breath, the less oxygen is carried in the red blood cells. In the long run, it can lead to other diseases which can put your baby at risk.
Why Sleep is Important
Similar to a normal human being, sleep is essential because this the period when the body recuperates from the day’s activities and rejuvenates for the next day. Adults are required to at least eight hours of sleep to function well while growing kids need more hours. Pregnant women are required a little over eight hours but highly recommended to take naps throughout the day.
Recent studies show that women who slept fewer than eight hours experienced longer labor time. With this evidence, birthing class are now including lectures on getting sufficient and quality sleep. More and more prenatal care specialists are advocating the benefits of a good sleep for both the mother and the baby.
Sleep deprivation during pregnancy can increase the chance of delivering the newborn via cesarean section. The baby of a mother with a sleeping problem is more likely to have difficulty in breathing after birth. The same outcomes are expected among expectant moms diagnosed with sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is common among overweight and obese women so it is important to maintain a healthy weight while you are pregnant. A pregnant woman is known to “eat for two” but it is still important to follow a balanced diet and do simple exercises once in awhile.
"Fourth Trimester": Caring for the Newborn
Giving birth to your baby ends and begins a chapter in your life. People refer to this stage as the “fourth trimester”. This involves breastfeeding your child, expressing your milk, and keeping up with the baby’s unusual sleeping patterns. Getting a full night of sleep will become harder for you and your partner once your newborn arrives.
You can never really hibernate after delivery as you will be taking care of your baby. Yes, it will be tiring but it is still manageable to sneak in a few hours of Zzz as long as you follow these tips:
- Practice safe co-sleeping with your little one. Use a bedside crib for your baby so he or she will be in close proximity whenever you need to attend to his or her needs.
- Keep breastfeeding your baby as the hormone called prolactin, the one responsible for milk production, is abundant during sleep or after waking up. In this way, you and your baby will feel relaxed during feeding time.
- Grab the chance to doze off when the baby is sleeping. Don’t use this free time to do unnecessary chores or to check the internet. Let your body rest and recover.
- Schedule sleep and nighttime duties with your partner or with your nanny. Distribute tasks so your partner or nanny can do these things while you are breastfeeding the baby.
- Switch on a nightlight or a bedside lamp to help you and your baby go back to sleep quickly after feeding time.
- Use your pillows properly to create a relaxing ambiance. A body pillow is very useful as it can offer support around the neck, on the sides of the body as well as the lower back.
- Taking sleeping pills during and after pregnancy are highly discouraged by doctors. If you are planning to take any herbal medicines to address sleeping problems, consult first your physician.
- Keep a massage roller or foam roller handy which you can use to alleviate pain on tired muscles. A calming massage with aromatherapy oils at night can also bring a good sleep. You can call a home massage service or ask your partner to give you a quick hand, foot, shoulder, and neck massages.
- Make sure to keep curtains down when you sleep at night so that when the morning comes, you will not be disturbed as the sun shines through the windows.
- Don’t force yourself to sleep when you can’t sleep. Do things that will calm your senses like reading a book, taking a warm bath, or drinking warm milk.
Many pregnancies are marked by a lack of proper sleep due to backaches, bladder issues and stress related to hormonal changes in the body and anxiety about taking care of the coming baby. It is not uncommon for pregnant women to keep getting up during the night to urinate interfering with their access to proper rest. There is a lot of heart burn and indigestion as well as back ache related to pregnancy that makes it uncomfortable for an expectant woman to sleep peacefully. Other experience leg cramps while others are plagued with numerous thoughts worrying about the health of their unborn baby and their ability to raise the upcoming child. Here are a few remedies that you can use to deal with sleep related issues and ensure you get good rest during the night throughout your pregnancy.
Monitor your diet
Avoid stimulating drinks such as coffee, tea and sodas in the afternoon and evening. You should also reduce the intake of fluids during this time even if they are healthy drinks such as water or fruit juices. This will help to decrease the trips you take to the bathrooms at night. Do not take spicy or fattening foods as they can cause heartburn and indigestion during the night as the body struggles to digest them. Eat light meals, well spaced out throughout the day, and ensure that you do not eat anything three hours to your bedtime. If you suffer from severe nausea, then you can nibble on some crackers or protein rich snacks before bedtime. A good example is a handful of nuts or some cheese on one or two crackers. Do not over eat as it will result in discomfort during the night.
Monitor your sleep patterns. If you sleep during the day, then you will find it hard to sleep at night. If you have to nap, ensure that it is for a short period. Ideally you should only take a nap of 30 – 45 minutes early on in the day. Exercise should be done early on in the day. This is to ensure that the resulting adrenaline levels do not interfere with your sleep during the night. You should finish your exercise 4-5 hours before bedtime. Use relaxation techniques to calm down and get rid of any stress. It is good to indulge in a mild Yoga for pregnant women or meditation sessions before you sleep. This is to relax the body and mind. Use your meditation session to practice deep breathing, and use guided imagery to get rid of the day stresses and progress into a state of peace that will allow you to drift off to sleep.
Relaxing baths and a soothing atmosphere
Before you embark on your relaxation technique, ensure that you take a relaxing bath with soothing bath oils. Ensure that your bed is made up of a soft supportive mattress and that the pillows are good at supporting your back, as well. Dim the lights in your bedrooms put in some soothing music and make sure it is well aerated. Having a peaceful bedroom will contribute to creating a peaceful atmosphere for you to enjoy a good rest.
It is recommended that you sleep on your side with a pillow lodged between your thighs. This is to relieve any pressure on your back. The left side is favored because sleeping on this side helps to provide good nutrition to your body, eliminate any waste and provide support to your growing belly. Relaxation of the mind and body is crucial for good sleep during a pregnancy. Mild exercise such as taking a walk or swimming is important. Ensure that you do not over eat during your pregnancy as excess weight may end up causing a lot of complications that will lead to insomnia during your pregnancy.
Originally posted 2013-08-10 11:05:28.