Sleep can be somewhat elusive for some women during pregnancy. Our hormones are changing; we're experiencing physical discomfort, as well as being filled with excitement and anxiety about being a new mom or a mom-again!
Sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being. It is also crucial for prenatal care. Are you struggling to sleep well during your pregnancy? You're not alone; it's believed that at least half of pregnant women have insomnia during pregnancy.
Why Sleep Changes During Pregnancy
Many factors come into play. Fluctuating hormones can cause general discomfort. Then there are the other symptoms associated with pregnancy.
- Leg Cramps
- Increased Heart Rate
- Shortness of Breath
- Frequent Urinating
- Increased Body Temperature
- Tender Breasts
- As time goes on, expecting mothers experience back pain, which makes it challenging to find comfortable positions. When the baby becomes more active, they start kicking and moving around.
Let's talk briefly about the common sleep disorders and problems expecting mothers might deal with.
- Restless Leg Syndrome: RLS causes annoying sensations like a crawling, tickling, or itching feeling that causes us to want to move our legs around. This condition can make it difficult to get a good night's rest because the symptoms are more severe when the body is resting.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD): You may recognize this condition as heartburn or acid reflux. The uncomfortable burning sensation can keep mothers up at night because the condition can be intensified when lying down.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Nasal congestion and gaining pregnancy weight can lead to snoring, even for those that don't usually snore. OSA can impede the oxygen flow to the baby fetus and increase the risk of preeclampsia.
Why Sleep Is SO Important During Pregnancy
Having a good night's sleep is crucial for the baby and mother. Sleepless nights lead to fatigue and feeling tired all day. Lack of good sleep can affect our memory, appetite, mood, learning abilities, and decision-making skills. All of those elements are essential when you're getting ready to welcome your new little one home!
Something like chronic sleep deprivation will take a significant toll on our immune system. Sleep helps to regulate our blood sugar; the lack thereof can be linked to gestational diabetes mellitus.
Too much and not enough sleep during the early stages of pregnancy can cause the risk of high blood pressure in the third trimester. Women who suffer from severe sleep deprivation throughout the early stages of pregnancy might raise the risk of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia can cause preterm delivery and complications for the mom's heart, kidneys, and other organs.
Tips For Better Sleep
- Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark.
- Prioritize your sleep and try to stick with a consistent bedtime. Taking naps earlier in the day will interfere less with bedtime.
- Read a good book, take a bubble bath, and do things that make you feel calm and relax before bed.
- Having night lights can make it easier to get back to sleep after using the bathroom.
- Avoid spicy food, caffeine, and heavy foods before bed as they trigger GERD symptoms.
- Limit cell phone and computer time. Turn the screens off about an hour before bed.
- Regular safe exercises in the early part of the day.
- Get plenty of water throughout the day, but then reduce it before bed to help with bathroom visits throughout the night.
- Keep a journal by the bed to help free your mind from too many intrusive thoughts.
Sleep is essential for you and your growing child. Make sure you take good care of yourself and your body so that your little one can grow healthy and strong. Your baby needs you to stay on top of things from this day on. If you're having too much trouble sleeping, please reach out to your doctor or OBGYN to seek some help.