Pregnancy is one of the happiest times of a woman’s life because it automatically enrolls you to motherhood. Happily, you’re no longer a singular instead you’re a plural. When you take pills, you’re taking for two. The same applies when you sleep, you sleep for two. And your usual sleeping positions may no longer work for you during pregnancy. Don’t worry, most pregnant woman suffer from sleep disorder especially in the first and third trimesters.
During the early stage of pregnancy, your body uses up all the energy to facilitate the synthesis of a hormone called progesterone; the production of this hormone will make you tired and drained as all the energy in your body has been used up which expressly makes you weak as if you’re getting sick. Although you’re so weak and tired, yet you can’t find a comfortable position to sleep.
As a pregnant woman, your body undergoes a variety of changes. These changes tend to recondition your normal peaceful sleep. The primary cause for your discomfort may include:
- Increased size of the abdomen
- Back Pain
More so, physical and psychological symptoms associated with pregnancy such as nausea, cramps, and stress, as well as the general discomfort of carrying a baby to term, can cause or worsen sleep-related conditions.
Sleep Problems during the First, Second, And Third Trimesters
It’s a thing of a surprise that even the most scurry woman can be a victim of abeyance during pregnancy. But it should not be a thing of worry. You will experience different sleeping problems and patterns throughout your whole pregnancy.
Sleep during First Trimester
This stage of pregnancy spans the first 12 weeks of a standard pregnancy and will bring you towards the more snoozing state. The snoozing state is due to the excess progesterone hormone in your body which cause short light sleeps at regular intervals. The progesterone behaves like a soporific hormone, meaning that it can induce mid-day sleep. As a result, a higher level of progesterone in the body can lead to disrupted sleep at night.
These changes can be so substantial that you may experience fatigue and might develop insomnia. You might encounter the problems of tiredness and lethargy which can worsen your health. You’re encouraged to grab naps whenever you can as the increased levels of progesterone in the blood may cause you to pee more often in the night. You will often hit the toilet during the first trimester which will disturb your sleeping pattern.
Sleeping Position during First Trimester
Your ability to choose the right sleeping position during your first trimester will help you have a great sleep. Sleeping on your left side will allow the blood and nutrients to flow into your womb, thus reaching out to your baby. The first trimester is the best period to get accustomed to this sleeping position. Over time, your hips will expand and cause you more discomfort while sleeping.
As your baby grows, your womb will expand such that it will accommodate the size of your baby. The expansion of your womb will ultimately exert pressure on your gall bladder and causes you to pee more at night. Strangely, bladder pressure has also been linked to vivid dreams in pregnant women.
These are some tips on how to get enough sleep during your first trimester:
- Take always a nap to counteract the effects of your rising progesterone levels during the first trimester; two catnaps, each lasting between 30 minutes and an hour, are considered more effective than one long nap.
- Exercising in the morning can also help you maintain a healthy sleep cycle.
- Avoid consuming a large amount of liquids in the evening. This will significantly reduce your urge to urinate in the middle of the night.
If you experience morning sickness, try snacking on light, salty foods like popcorn or pretzels.
Sleep during Second Trimester
Unlike your first trimester, your second trimester will be less stressful. Usually, the second trimester lasts from 13-27 weeks. You will feel more comfortable as compared to the first trimester. The fact that the early morning sickness will go away will even make you feel relaxed and energetic. Depending on individuals, you may be having complaints of vivid dreams, preeclampsia, and heartburn.
The primary concern during the second trimester is preeclampsia, an ailment characterized by high blood pressure. Preeclampsia symptoms begin to materialize after 20 weeks of pregnancy. These symptoms include:
- Light Sensitivity
- Shortness Of Breath
- Decreased Urination
Preeclampsia is to some extent rare, but this condition can be fatal for both the mother and the fetus. So it is, in any case, recommended to see your doctor immediately in case you experience any of these symptoms.
Sleeping Position during Second Trimester
You will feel uncomfortable sleeping on your back after 13-16 weeks of pregnancy. Hence, left side position with curved knees and pillows in between your knees can help you have a sound sleep.
Adopt good sleeping habits, and don’t neglect the need for sleep due to side attractions. Sound and regular rest in the second trimester will prepare you for the coming months. Over time, your womb will move closer to the pelvis thereby decreasing the pressure on your bladder. Your morning illness and night disturbance can come to a halt. You will notice your baby’s movement.
How to Get Enough Sleep and Remain Healthy during the Second Trimester:
- Avoid eating of spicy food and drinking soft drinks, and other carbonated beverages which can cause or worsen the effects of leg cramping and heartburn.
- Try to sit upright for a few hours after eating to ease the digestive process and reduce the effects of heartburn.
- If you experience a leg cramp in bed, try flexing your leg or foot muscles to relieve the temporary pain.
- Talk to your doctor immediately if you begin to experience symptoms of preeclampsia, or notice a sharp rise in your blood pressure levels.
Sleep during Third Trimester
The third trimester sometimes called the sleep evasion phase is very stressful, and care must be taken as you will experience reduced sleep during this period due to a fully grown baby, finding that comfortable position may become a nightmare.
Just like at the beginning of your pregnancy, you will be awake again. This time, it will be your baby that keeps you awake. Because your baby has a much shorter sleep phase than you, nonetheless your baby often wakes up when you want to sleep. However, a sound night’s sleep may sound like a thing of the past to you. You may feel uncomfortable sleeping on your back and left side.
Another commonly reported sleep disorder among women in their third trimester is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA occurs when your nose is somewhat blocked, causing shallow breathing during sleep. OSA in pregnant women is a severe problem because the lost oxygen supply may lead to hormonal issues powerful enough to compromise fetal health. OSA also has a long history tied around preeclampsia.
Sleeping Position during Third Trimester
Placing some pillows between your legs and behind your back will help you. However, you can also find the comfortable recliner to sleep on rather than a bed. Sleeping on the stomach does not work at all, on the back presses the uterus and your baby on the large vena cava, which leads the blood from the body back to the heart.
How to Get Enough Sleep and Make It through the Third Trimester:
- Reduce excess liquid intake in the evening.
- Before going to bed in the night, make sure you pee to empty your bladder. Leaning completely forward while peeing can help.
- Maintain a strategic distance from foods and drinks that disturb your digestive system, and consume plenty of iron-rich foods to help stave off RLS and counteract the effects leg cramping.
- Stretching and light exercise before bed can help you fall asleep more quickly.
- For comfort during sleeping, place your pillows in between your knees, and beneath the underside of your stomach.
- Avoid Supine Position
Maternity clinicians have been aware for many decades that supine position and pregnancy are not a good mix. So, pregnant women are advised not to sleep flat on their back. This is because when a woman lies on her back, the gravid uterus is known to compress the vena cava. This can result in a range of adverse effects such as maternal hypotension, blood pressure decreases, and the oxygen supply drops. Because the impact of the supine position is well known, pregnant women and clinicians are advised to avoid supine position when sleeping or for routine examinations. Furthermore, the inability of blood not flowing properly due to supine position can lead to varicose veins, hemorrhoids and water retention in the legs.
Lateral Position Prevail
Since the vena cava runs to the right of the spine allowing the blood to flow back to the heart, pregnant women are advised to sleep on the left side as it enhances the flow of oxygen into the womb, allowing your little abdominal dweller to get enough oxygen.
Common Pregnancy Symptoms Which May Disturb Your Sleep
Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, counteracting heartburn at night helps to keep your torso higher so that gastric acid cannot flow back into the esophagus. Heartburn is a prevalent condition in pregnancy. Heartburn is most problematic in the third trimester; between 40-50% of women report frequent heartburn during pregnancy.
Since excess blood flows through your body, the nasal mucous membranes are slightly dilated, this causes your nose to be blocked at night which leads to snoring. Snoring that starts during pregnancy shouldn’t be considered as a problem, and is said to occur partly because of the way your changing hormone levels influence the function of muscles. Snoring does not harm you or your baby it only disturbs your partner.
As the uterus continues to grow, it puts pressure on the blood vessels which obstruct the blood flow, causing a lot of blood to accumulate in the legs. Many pregnant women experience leg cramps in the second or third trimester, often at night.
Apart from hormonal changes, your baby and the growing uterus frequently puts pressure on your bladder meaning that, there is no room to accommodate liquids. Also, excess blood is circulating in your body than before; this means a lot of fluids are being processed through your kidneys more quickly and end up in your bladder. These cause more frequent urination during pregnancy. This is often experienced during the third trimester.
The Best Sleeping Position During Pregnancy
Sleep On The Left Side
Sleeping on the left side is highly recommended during pregnancy since it benefits the baby by promoting the blood flow, applying less pressure on the vena cava, and increasing the availability of oxygen in the womb. This also helps in supplying the vital nutrients to the placenta, and to encourage the kidneys to perform better while eliminating waste efficiently. In turn, this implies that you will have fewer symptoms of heartburn and preeclampsia.
Sleeping on the back
During pregnancy, you will not be able to sleep on the back, especially after a few weeks of pregnancy. When you sleep on the back, the weight of the uterus lies on the spine, back muscles, and intestines. However, you could develop back-aches, hemorrhoids, and impaired circulation. This could be uncomfortable, and the baby might not get enough nutrients through blood as compared to sleeping on the left side.
Tips To Reduce Sleep Problems during Pregnancy:
- Hit the bed early in the night. This will help you get the much-needed sound sleep
- Eat light foods 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Ask your partner for a gentle massage around your back, pelvis, shoulder, feet, etc
- Go for a long walk during the day or just before going to bed. This will make you tired and sleep better
- Clinicians recommend taking a short nap any time you can get it. It does not matter if you didn’t sleep -lying down can relax your muscles and renew your energy
- Create a pleasant sleeping environment-you can achieve this by playing any music of your choice or reading a book along with your partner.
Dreams in Pregnancy
Pregnancy dreams, especially in the third trimester, are usually vivid, and can even be scary. But this is entirely normal, and almost all pregnant women experience it. These dreams may provide a way your subconscious self deals with any fears and insecurities you may have about pregnancy and impending motherhood.
How Can I Go Back To Sleep Again After A Vivid Dream?
- Keep a notebook by your bed and write down any dreams that you remember; try to record your feelings about them. This can help any worries pass from your unconscious to your conscious mind, which allows you to deal with it
- Picture yourself lying on a warm, sandy beach or strolling through a field of wildflowers. This would help redirect your mind
- Try as much as possible to relax your muscles, using any technique that works best for you.