Expectant mothers usually find getting a good night’s rest is a lot to ask of their bodies. With the physiological and hormonal changes associated with the miracle of life, mothers find themselves struggling to adapt to a sleeping position that suits their transforming bodies.
With their bodies working overtime to protect and nurture the development of the fetus, it is important to rejuvenate with unperturbed sleep. Insomnia, especially in the later stages of pregnancy, is more common than one might think. However, there are different ways to overcome these nighttime troubles by trying to understand what your body is telling you.
First, it is important to recognize the crucial role rest plays to your well-being during pregnancy. Insomnia or lack of sleep causes a variety of issues, some of which can be more serious than you think.
Consequences of insomnia during pregnancy
A quick glance at the consequences of insomnia during pregnancy can give you a clear picture of what we are dealing with.
- It can lead to high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, hypertension and preeclampsia. These conditions can adversely affect the overall health of the fetus as well as pose serious risks to the mother.
- Less sleep has also been associated with increased discomfort and pain during labour, which tends to be longer in these cases.
- There is a higher risk of cesarean section associated with less sleep during pregnancy.
Apart from the physiological effects, less sleep can be directly associated with fatigue, antagonism and resentment. This may cause a lot of pressure on expectant mothers, taking a toll on their mental health.
Second, it is important to zero in on the root causes of insomnia. These can be external factors like working long hours, looking after household responsibilities along with work or internal factors like increasing size of the body, back pain, shortness of breath, stress and a rudimentary lack of knowledge as to why rest is important.
Expectant mothers tend to prioritize sleep much lower than their numerous responsibilities towards their job, home and family. Hence, educating and persuading them to take sleep cycles seriously needs to be done by their health care provider as well as the family.
How to beat insomnia and get plenty of rest?
Create a soothing environment to sleep
A stressful environment can send your sleep cycles for a frenzy. It is important to find a soothing ritual that works for you. It can be meditation, listening to calming music, a warm cup of chamomile tea, reminiscing happy memories and so on.
It is difficult to sleep in a foul mood so try to maintain pleasant and simple conversations before bed. A sleep time ritual will help in creating and maintaining a soothing environment, night after night, throughout the pregnancy.
Prepare yourself to sleep
Along with creating a soothing environment, actively take steps towards getting better sleep. This can be done by avoiding caffeinated drinks, thriller novels that would keep you hooked and drinking a lot of fluids in the evening that would frequently wake you up to urinate. Taking long naps during the day can also affect your sleep cycle.
Short naps and mild activity can do wonders to falling asleep easily. It is important that you realize your body isn’t the same as it was before getting pregnant and that you must incorporate changes into your lifestyle to fulfil the demands your body makes.
Change your sleeping position
Change your sleeping position. If you are accustomed to sleeping on your back or on your belly, you might want to consider changing your sleeping position. Sleeping on your back can contribute to increased issues with breathing, back pain and heartburn. It can also cause the uterus to press against the spine and reduce blood flow to the abdomen. Sleeping on your tummy will be difficult with a growing belly and would increase the pressure on your already sore breasts.
Sleeping on your left side is the most comfortable and beneficial during your pregnancy. Expectant mothers have found tranquil sleep on their side with their knees bent and a pillow tucked snugly between their legs. This position allows for improved flow of blood and nutrients to the developing fetus and to the mother’s organs with no trouble.
Combat snoring and sleep apnea
While snoring might seem like a trivial issue, it is anything but insignificant. Snoring occurs during pregnancy as the result of hormones causing the mucus membranes to swell. It can be a sign of sleep apnea where mothers experience breathlessness due to blocked airflow. This can cause oxygen deprivation to the fetus and put the baby at risk.
Nasal strips and an elevated head can combat this problem. It is also important to discuss this with your health care provider to ensure you sleep better.
Use pillows as props
There is no such thing as too many pillows during pregnancy! Pillows are a great tool to find a comfortable sleeping pose and combat issues like acid reflux and back pain. Placing a pillow under the belly is a great way to support it, especially during the later stages of pregnancy. You can use pillows to prop the upper body up to avoid acid reflux, which is common during the third trimester. You can also place a pillow on your back to avoid rolling over while sleeping.
Finding the most comfortable mattress to suit your body
Finding the most comfortable mattress. As you will be spending most of your nights sleeping on your side, finding a mattress that adapts to your body curvature and relieves your hips from pressure is something that cannot be overlooked. In addition to that, a mattress needs to provide breathability and coolness as pregnant women tend to run hot while they sleep.
Investing in a good mattress can help you find better comfort while you sleep during your pregnancy and after.
No matter what stage you are in your pregnancy, there will always be tasks you need to accomplish, problems you need to overcome and responsibilities that you must fulfill. However, it is important to take eight hours to yourself where you can close your eyes and drift away to a peaceful place. Training your mind to fall asleep on time in the early stages of pregnancy will undeniably come in handy in the later stages. So, begin your rituals and lower your responsibilities early on so you can avoid feeling overwhelmed in the times to come.
Remember now, you are sleeping for two. The more relaxed you are, the better the experience of carrying a baby will be. Your body and your baby will thank you for those uninterrupted eight hours every night.
Article revision 23.2.2022 – 404 link removed