First things first, congratulations! Pregnancy is an incredible journey with many significant changes in your life and your body, but one thing you might be starting to realise during the first trimester is that you may have developed unusual sleeping habits or might not have been getting enough sleep.
Physical discomfort, hormonal changes, and excitement and anxiety about being a new mother can lead to a host of sleep problems. There are also cases where you don’t experience any trouble sleeping, but you might wake up tired and unrefreshed.
But don’t worry too much about this, as as sleep deprivation is a common issue for pregnant women.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the different causes of sleep disturbance and how you can try to get a good night’s sleep during your pregnancy.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Sleeping Problems?
Frequent Bathroom Trips
There are two main reasons why pregnant women always find themselves needing to go to the toilet or waking up in the middle of the night running to the bathroom.
- The first reason is the placement of your bladder; as your child grows inside your belly, they intermittently push the walls surrounding them. This can cause pressure on your bladder. The pressure on the bladder can either limit the capacity to a lesser volume or can push the fluids out into your urethra, making you feel the need to go to the bathroom.
- The second reason why pregnant women always have the urge to urinate is because of the extra blood flow in the body, which causes the kidney to produce more fluids that eventually end up in your bladder. The constant urge to run to the bathroom is nothing to worry about! It is a common symptom that pregnant women experience during the gestation period.
Changes in your hormones can easily affect how you generally feel, and in the case of pregnant women, you tend to experience even more hormonal changes.
The most common physical discomfort caused by a change in hormones is hot flashes. Sleeping at night during a hot flash can be challenging as they reduce the body’s ability to lower its core temperature.
Apart from making it difficult to sleep, hot flashes can also have an effect on the quality of sleep throughout the pregnancy, and lack of sleep then becomes more than an inconvenience.
It is common for pregnant women to experience heartburn, especially during the second trimester of their pregnancy.
This is another effect of hormonal changes. The valve at your stomach’s entrance relaxes and doesn’t close as it should, causing the stomach acids to move up to the oesophagus.
Acid reflux is also more likely to happen when you immediately lie down after eating meals, and when you lay flat in bed when you sleep.
Your Baby Bump
A growing baby bump can cause trouble sleeping due to the general discomfort of lying down and needing to try new sleeping positions. You might find that positions that used to be comfortable no longer are.
The discomfort of sleeping with a baby bump becomes more prominent during the third trimester, where the bump is larger and makes it difficult to lie down on your side and experiment on different pregnancy sleep positions.
Seek Medical Advice
The most common sleep disorders that tend to occur during pregnancy are obstructive sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and gastroesophageal reflux disorder.
If you continue to experience trouble sleeping during pregnancy, it is best that you talk to your obstetrician or health care provider.
What Can You Do to Improve Sleep during Pregnancy?
Use Pillows for Support
There are pregnancy pillows designed for this function. Using one allows you to be in optimal sleep positions that provide the most comfort and alleviate back pains experienced in the morning.
If you don’t have a pregnancy pillow, a long body pillow is a great alternative!
Sleep on Your Left Side
Some pregnant women find it difficult to sleep on their back for the whole night as it can increase lower back pain that they experience from carrying a baby.
Back sleeping can also place pressure on the major blood vessels which supply blood to the uterus and oxygen to the baby. Research even suggests that after 28 weeks, falling asleep on your back can double the risk of stillbirth.
So, side sleeping with support is a great alternative. Try experimenting with pillows to find a comfortable sleeping position. Some women place a pillow under their abdomen or between their legs.
It also helps to elevate your head using stacked pillows during sleep so that gravity can prevent stomach acids from rising up to the oesophagus. Sleeping on your left side is also highly recommended when you are prone to heartburn and acid reflux.
Although not as optimal as the left side, which we believe is the best sleeping position for pregnant women, sleeping on the right side during pregnancy is also acceptable.
Manage Your Fluids
It’s essential to stay hydrated during pregnancy, so be sure to drink plenty of water during the day.
Start reducing the amount of water you drink as it nears bedtime, as this will lessen the need to go to the toilet at night.
Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee, and soda during the evening. Pregnant women should already be limiting their caffeine intake, but you should also know that caffeinated beverages are diuretics, which causes dehydration and frequent urination.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
You’re now eating for two! While you should definitely honour your pregnancy cravings, it’s important to be consuming nutritious foods for both you and bub.
Although weight gain is obviously normal during pregnancy, try and stick to a well-balanced diet to keep your health and hormone levels in check.
We understand it’s not always possible, but also try to include some light exercise into your daily routine as it can be very beneficial to your health.
If you can, seize daytime naps during the day and get some early nights during the week.
Going for a walk can help improve blood circulation, which can also reduce nighttime leg cramps that are commonly experienced by pregnant women. Gentle, low impact pregnancy exercise can help such as yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques.
Be Proactive in Preventing Heartburn
As mentioned earlier, pregnant women that immediately lie down after meals are more susceptible to experiencing acid reflux or heartburn at night.
Allow your body to properly digest your meal for an hour or two before you transfer to a reclined position.
It is also best that you avoid eating acidic, fried, or spicy food at night as these kinds of food can increase acidity in your stomach.
It also helps to elevate your head using stacked pillows during sleep so that gravity can prevent stomach acids from rising up to the oesophagus.
Sleeping on your left side is also highly recommended when you are prone to heartburn and acid reflux.
Ensure That You Have the Best Sleeping Environment
A comfortable environment can go a long way in helping you get a good quality sleep, even when pregnant.
Sleeping in a dark room makes it easier to fall asleep, and ensuring that your room temperature is comfortably cold enough to reduce discomfort during hot flashes.
Sleeping on a quality mattress is also integral to ensure your sleep comfort during pregnancy. Having a mattress that’s too soft will cause you to sink in bed and offer no support for your baby bump.
Plan ahead to enjoy your pregnancy!
Following healthy sleep hygiene guidelines may not address every issue during pregnancy, but these measures have proven effective for many. Introducing small changes could help your body to adapt to a different sleeping pattern as it changes through each trimester. So it will be good to plan ahead and be emotionally and mentally prepared.
Along with that, you can plan ahead with the Ecosa Mattress that is every bit pregnancy friendly! With adjustable firmness, you can find the sweet spot that offers the best support for your baby bump while ensuring that you don’t wake up with back pain.