For many women, sleep is one of the major physiological aspects that evades them during pregnancy. Significant reasons feature the physical discomfort of a growing belly, the uncomfortable change in hormones, heartburn and a newfound excitement and anxiety of being new parents. These stressors can lead to a host of sleep problems. These sleepless nights begin way before the responsibility of a crying and hungry infant is upon most mothers. But having sleeping troubles is very common during pregnancy.
The changes begin early in the first trimester, with a spike in progesterone making women feel drowsy and sluggish. The second trimester is a much-welcomed relief but the third trimester ends up making it hard for most women to find a comfortable position to sleep in. High levels of estrogen during this stage can cause rhinitis, the swelling of the nasal tissue which leads to snoring or obstructive sleep apnea.
What are the effects of lack of sleep during pregnancy?
Sleep deprivation is inevitable for new moms with all pregnant women experiencing sleep troubles like nighttime awakenings, insomnia, poor sleep quality and daytime fatigue throughout the three trimesters.
More than an inconvenience, lack of sleep during pregnancy may also cause higher risks in women of developing pregnancy complications. Like preeclampsia or high blood pressure, gestational diabetes or longer labours and higher rates of caesarean section.
It also increases the risk of preterm birth and postpartum depression, excessive pregnancy weight gain and an elevated body mass index and high blood pressure in the infant.
How can you get enough sleep while pregnant?
Sleepless nights don’t stop once the baby is born so it’s best that you introduce strategies to get enough sleep while you can. A few over-the-counter remedies prescribed by your doctor can also be helpful. Lifestyle changes like cutting down television and electronic devices a while before bed can be helpful. Working on stress reduction techniques is also key for a good night’s sleep for pregnant women.
We’ve listed down a few effective strategies that can help you get the rest you need.
- Find a comfortable position
As your belly grows bigger, finding a position to sleep in can get difficult. Experts advise against sleeping on your back as that can compress the inferior vena cava and decrease oxygen to the placenta. Instead, try sleeping on the side with your knees bent. This promotes healthy circulation and sleeping on your left can protect the liver and increase blood flow to the heart, fetus, uterus and kidneys.
A few tricks you can try are:
Placing a pillow under your bump or between your legs.
Using a rolled-up blanket under the small of your back to relieve stress.
Using extra pillows or a body pillow for support.
- Follow a proper diet
Pregnancy comes with various ailments including gestation, hormonal changes, dietary impulses, indigestion, constipation and even heartburn. If you maintain a healthy routine for your body’s digestion, you can embrace a good night’s sleep. Some changes you should consider:
Avoid foods that can trigger acid reflux like carbonated drinks, citrus, peppermint, tomatoes, and spicy or preserved food.
Eat a healthy meal at least three to four hours before bedtime.
Eat frequent, small meals throughout the day instead of three big ones.
Refrain from drinking anything during meals or two hours before bed.
Stop drinking caffeine. It can keep you awake and be harmful to the development of the baby.
- Improve sleep hygiene
Following healthy sleep hygiene can regulate your sleep cycle and promote reliable and quality sleep. Start by:
Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
Using your bed only for sleep.
Not exercising within three hours until bedtime.
Keeping electronics in separate rooms.
If you face a sleepless night, try and do a non-stimulating activity like reading.
You can also try our calming affirmations for new mothers.
- Soothe your legs
Leg cramping is a common symptom that most pregnant women experience at night. This is caused due to the body’s changing ability to process calcium. Pregnancy also causes restless legs syndrome, a condition where you feel strong urges to move your legs. To prevent your legs from troubling you at night:
Try doing gentle leg stretches before bed.
Exercise during the day.
Eat a calcium-rich diet.
Flex your feet to alleviate sudden cramps.
- See a doctor
Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if your sleepless nights are turning into weeks or months. No matter how small, the troubles you face can be easily addressed and cured by seeing a medical expert.
Read more: 5 Best Home Remedies For Cold And Cough