One of the biggest challenges during pregnancy is sleep. The excitement and giddy anticipation of a new baby Is exciting however, the happiness is often marred by lack of sleep.
The gestation process is using a lot of your fuel and there are metabolic changes happening to help sustain a growing life. The fatigue that comes along with being pregnant is usually worst in the first and final trimesters.
“Many women experience numerous sleep disturbances for the first time during pregnancy. This is a period of great hormonal and physical change and these changes can cause significant disruption to sleep quality resulting in increased fatigue and daytime sleepiness as well as, at times, considerable distress,” explains Dr Carmel Harrington. “With 84% of women experiencing one of more symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights a week or reporting that they never or rarely get a good night sleep, it’s important to not just accept these disruptions, but rather recognise that good quality sleep is a necessity for good maternal health, foetal development and optimal pregnancy outcomes.”
As a tired, expecting mother, you’ll want simple and achievable tips to help with these struggles. The experts at A.H Beard have shared with us the issues that can arise and helpful advice to help ensure you have a sufficient night of rest for you and your little one.
Snoring and Breathing Pauses
Often, when you’re pregnant, your breathing changes during your sleep. You may start snoring or have occasional breathing pauses which end with a snort or gasp. Despite this being normal, constantly waking up can be frustrating and can seriously interrupt your sleep. Speak to your doctor or midwife, as interrupted sleep can lead to other potential health issues.
“Snoring may increase in loudness and frequency and can be an indicator of the development of sleep apnoea (especially if you were overweight or obese pre-pregnancy). It is slowly being recognised that this can be a serious condition in pregnancy and emerging research is indicating that sleep apnoea is significantly associated with, and exacerbates, gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. If you snore or have pauses in your breathing while sleeping it is a good idea to discuss this with your doctor,” explains Dr Carmel Harrington.
With a growing uterus pressing on your stomach, heartburn is a common occurrence. It usually happens when stomach acid is forced into your oesophagus and therefore causes severe pain in your chest. Keeping your chest upright in bed, using pillows to elevate your head, can help prevent this painful experience from occurring.
The dreaded night nausea is a big killer of sleep. Keep some dry crackers or a small snack next to your bed so you don’t have to get out of bed. This will help you fall back to sleep faster too.
Pregnant or not pregnant, a regular bedtime is very important. You should also include an extra hour in bed to keep your baby-growing body healthy and refreshed. Napping for half an hour in the mid-afternoon will also help with energy levels.
“Recognise that it is normal to be tired during this time and accept it. Make sleep a priority and plan a regular sleep‒wake schedule. If necessary, add 20-minute naps during the day, preferably around 3-4pm when you’re likely to be in your Circadian low (dip in alertness), it will restore you and won’t have any impacts on your normal sleeping pattern,” adds Dr Carmel Harrington.
Find Your Sleeping Position
With your little one growing, it becomes harder to find a comfortable sleep position. Bring more pillows into the bed and experiment to find a comfortable sleep position that is just right for you. Midwives and Obstetricians recommend sleeping on your side during the later months for comfort and improved sleep. This can also help with the healthy growth of the baby.
Sleep is likely to be the biggest challenge in the final trimester, with night-time during this period often filled with several trips to the toilet, leg movements, and discomfort. Avoid drinking too much water before bed and try getting into bed a little early if you know your sleep is going to be impacted.
“Within the second trimester 20% of women may develop Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). Luckily, it generally resolves after delivery. Unluckily though, it is often not recognised and, for many women, RLS causes significant sleep disruption and all the negative consequences of sleep deprivation. RLS is more prevalent in women who have deficient or low (but within normal) levels of iron and folate. It is important that these levels are monitored and, if low, you should consult your doctor about supplementation. RLS can also be improved with 30 minutes of daily exercise,” says Dr Carmel Harrington.
Sleep issues are normal and occur in varying degrees in all pregnant women. If you’re are concerned about something, visit your doctor or midwife for their professional advice.
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