Pregnancy is one of the most important times in a women’s life. It is a time when you need to be getting as much sleep as possible, for you and for the new life growing inside you. But the problem is that sleeping when you are pregnant can be incredibly difficult. There are all the hormonal changes going on, there are all the physical changes going on and you have more to think about than you have ever had before. It is not surprising then that for many pregnant women, sleep is not easy. And what makes this worse is that once the baby comes, sleep will be even more difficult to come across. As you would expect there are different issues in the different trimesters, here is a rough guide to these:
Sleeping in the First Trimester of Pregnancy
• Frequent waking because you have an increased need to go to the bathroom
• Disruptions in sleep become more common because of the physical and emotional stress that is associated with pregnancy
• As a result you will suffer from increased daytime sleepiness
Sleep in the Second Trimester of Pregnancy
Sleep in the second trimester of pregnancy will actually improve for many women, this is mainly due to the fact that night time urination becomes problematic as the growing foetus reduces pressure on the bladder by moving above it. However, this is only a relative improvement and most will still find that their sleep is not as good as it was pre-pregnancy.
Sleep in the Third Trimester of Pregnancy
You will probably experience the worst sleep problems in this trimester as a result of the following:
• Discomfort because your stomach is growing increasingly bigger.
• Heartburn, leg cramps, and sinus congestion
• Frequent night time urination returns, as the baby's changing position places increasing pressure on the bladder once again.
• Hot and cold spells because of the hormone changes in your body
Sleeping when pregnant sure ain’t easy
It is a terrible irony really. The time in your life where you should be sleeping as well as you possible can is also the time in your life where you body makes it as difficult to sleep well. There are all the different physical transformations that occur, including your stomach getting so big that you will struggle to get comfortable and your bladder becoming so small you will need to get up and pee all the time. Then there are the hormonal transformations, you will experience hot and cold flushes amongst a whole raft of other changes that can make it more difficult to sleep. Finally, when you are pregnant you have quite a bit on your mind, you are about to experience one of the biggest shifts in your life and no doubt you will have a lot on your mind, from thinking about the baby itself to thinking about how you are going to order your life when they arrive.
Good luck with the night time zeeees
All of this is combines into one massive sleep hurdle. All you want and need to do is sleep but you will spend hours trying to get comfortable, then as you are dropping off you may suddenly get really hot. Or you spend the entire night up and down going to the toilet, with a dose of the ‘thinks’ in between each spell, wondering how you are going to handle this huge change. All of this as the days of being able to sleep more a slipping by, as in no time you will have your own little external anti-sleep device around (that is your baby by the way!). But never fear, there are some things that you can do to help sleep somewhat better. This guide will help you at every step, or rather trimester, of the way.
So how can you sleep better while you are pregnant?
Bedding: Right let’s start with the most obvious but often overlooked issue. How old is your bed? If you have answered anything over about 6-7 years then you may have some issues on the horizon. Having a good bed is essential, you will be spending a third of your pregnancy on this mattress so it better be high quality, it better provide a great balance between comfort and support. Think about all that extra weight that you will be carrying around, the last thing you want is an old, saggy mattress that doesn’t support your growing belly. Make sure that you have a good bed, you are going to need it and you will really appreciate having a mattress that is able to give you the support you need.
Create a sleep environment: Your bedroom needs to be an environment that is conducive to sleep. This means that it needs to be as dark, quiet and well ventilated as possible. Even the smallest LED light can disturb your sleep so make sure that you have your room as black as you can. Likewise you want to ensure that your room is as quiet as you can, get curtains that not only blackout the light but are also able to muffle the sound. Ventilation is also useful, so if you are able to have a window open then go for it, otherwise maybe have your AC on.
Extra pillows: Making sure that you have enough pillows (and knowing how to use them) is critical during pregnancy. Pillows are great at providing the support for your belly and for giving you comfort when you need it. They can be used for your belly and your back, as well as between the legs. There are even special pillows you can get that are designed to help you sleep when you are pregnant. Have a look around, you will find loads of really specific advice on how to get the most out of pillows while you are pregnant, including recommendations on different styles and shapes of pillow as well as positions.
Nutrition: The connections between sleep and diet are well known. This is extra important when you are pregnant as you also need to be eating extra well to feed the baby. Luckily the food that helps you sleep is also healthy food that is good for you and baby. There are a number of foods and drinks that you can have during the day and especially at night that will help you sleep better. Having a nice glass of milk before bed is excellent. Or you could have a banana before bed. Muesli is also great for helping you sleep, as are cherries. Almonds are also well known as soporifics and chamomile tea has been helping people to get to sleep for millennia.
Relaxation techniques: Another useful thing you can do is to practice relaxation techniques. There are many different things that you can do to help you relax before and in bed. Yoga is an excellent way to get your body and mind ready for bed and is also great for your pregnancy (and labour) in general. Getting a massage in bed is also great for helping you ease into sleep. Another thing you can do is have a bath or read a book. Some people have found that white noise machines are great for sending them off to sleep. There are also some excellent relaxation methods that you can use when you are lying in bed to take your mind off things, including counting down from a thousand in threes, clenching and relaxing all the muscles in your body starting at your feet, or even creating a fantasy world in your head. It is up to you to find what works for you.
Exercise: Exercise is something that you need to monitor when you are pregnant and always make sure that you follow the advice of your medical practitioner. However, sleep and exercise go really well together so make sure that you do get some each day as it will help you sleep at night. Just make sure that you do not exercise within four hours of going to bed.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications: Now it is best if you do not have any medications when you are pregnant but there are things that you can take that are considered extremely safe by the medical profession. The reality is that if you are not sleeping well at all then you may want to get some help sleeping as on balance it will be better to take them and sleep than not take them at all and be a total mess. Talk to your doctor before you take anything.
Good luck sleeping, remember that a lot of it is in your mind so do not dwell on your sleep too much because this is going to be a walk in the park compared to when your baby first arrives!!
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