Sleep during Pregnancy – What Expectant Mothers Need to Know

You must surely have seen or heard about how new mothers appear sleep deprived, spending every waking second of their existence trying to make their bundle of joy comfortable in any way possible. Maybe that is why you plan to catch up on all your lost and future sleep during your pregnancy, so that you can be ready to stay awake at all hours when the baby beckons. But did you know that sleeping during pregnancy can be just as challenging, if not more?

The Challenges of Sleeping During Pregnancy

Expecting mothers have been noted to report a number of difficulties while trying to sleep throughout their pregnancy. One of the most common reasons why you might be facing problems settling down for a good night’s sleep might be because of the increasing size of the baby.

Most pregnant women have trouble trying to settle into a comfortable position which would let them drift off into a relaxing and refreshing sleep. In the first trimester, pregnant women tend to sleep more, as the body utilizes all possible energy for the formation of the baby and other important organs like the placenta. The blood flow is directed towards the developing fetus, which leaves you tired and sleepier than ever before.

But while you might be having the urge to drop off to sleep at any moment in the first trimester, the question is, can you? In the second and third trimester when you tend to have more load onboard and frequent naps are a good idea to maintain your energy levels, many women find it even harder to enjoy a deep relaxing sleep.

Following are some reasons why you are having difficulty sleeping during the different trimesters of your pregnancy,

Increased pulse and heart rate

The heart rate and pulse increases during pregnancy, to pump more blood which is directed to the uterus. The heart has to work harder to ensure that blood is also pumped to the rest of the body as well.

Backaches and leg cramps

While carrying you baby bump this tends to cause pain in the lower area of your back and you also experience leg cramps. This makes it harder for you to settle down to sleep. If you have always been a back or stomach sleeper, you will have a hard time trying to find a different sleeping position which is not uncomfortable and lets you drift off to sleep easily.

During pregnancy, a hormone is released in the body which relaxes the body’s ligaments, that tends to make women unstable and more prone to injuries. Back pain is a joint consequence of this and the weight of the baby bump you carry.

Problem of frequent urination

During the latter part of your pregnancy, as your bump and baby grows; your growing uterus will put pressure on your bladder. Because of this, you will feel the constant need to rush to the bathroom after a short time for multiple visits throughout the day.

This means that you will have a hard time trying to sleep as you will have to pay multiple visits to the bathroom throughout the night!

Constipation and heartburn

During pregnancy, the digestive system slows down, which means that food takes more time to be digested completely. Many women complain about extensive heartburn and constipation throughout their pregnancy.

The acid reflux makes it very difficult for women to try and sleep during the night.

Nightmares and troubled sleep

Many pregnant women have complained that they have trouble settling into a deep comfortable sleep, because they wake up at small sounds. Their sleep is shallow and therefore, troubled and not relaxing at all.

Other women have also reported having nightmares and waking up in the middle due to a troubled sleep.

Difficulty in finding a comfortable sleeping position

As your pregnancy progresses, you will have a hard time trying to find a comfortable posture to settle down in for the night. In the initial trimester, you might be able to sleep on your back, but as your bump grows, it will put more pressure on your nerves and spine, also causing spasms and pains in your legs.

That is why sleeping on your back will not be a good posture for sleep anymore, and you might have to look for other options soon.

With all these problems, a pregnant woman has a hard time catching up on some much needed sleep.

Best Pregnancy Sleep Positions

Since everything seems bent on preventing you from enjoying some much needed sleep, it would be a good idea for a pregnant woman to consult her doctor as to the best possible sleeping position for her during her pregnancy.

In the later part of your pregnancy, your doctor would advise you not to sleep on your back as the growing uterus will put pressure on the vena cava which will be very painful. Also, you will develop bad back pain and leg cramps by sleeping in such a position as well.

The ideal sleeping position recommended by doctors for pregnant women is to sleep on their side. And to be more specific, doctors advise to sleep on your left hand side. This is because the liver is located to the right side of your abdomen. By sleeping on your left hand side, the growing size of the uterus does not put pressure on the liver, preventing any discomfort.

Also, sleeping on the left hand side is also reputed to improve the circulation of blood throughout the body. It allows the blood to flow to the uterus, fetus, as well as kidneys. If you are having difficulty in adjusting your growing baby bump while sleeping on your side, then prop a pillow underneath your bump for support and you can also place a pillow between your legs as well. You can experiment by propping yourself on pillows until you find the perfect position for sleep during pregnancy.

Ask your doctor and use all the pillows you can get your hands on to prop yourself in the right position to enjoy the much deserved sleep every night.

© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options.


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