Being pregnant is a wonderful experience and one to be cherished forever. However, it is also a time when your body goes through a lot of physical changes. This can lead to some discomfort and changes in your sleep patterns. If you have been pregnant before, you might have experienced this already, but the changes may not be the same this time around. Here are some reasons why sleeplessness happens and how you can get a good night’s rest during the first trimester of your pregnancy.
Sleeplessness During the First Trimester of Pregnancy
Women often experience the most sleep difficulties during pregnancy. Early pregnancy symptoms are often the culprit, and understanding these can help you manage your sleep better. Some reasons why your sleep patterns change are:
This is one pregnancy symptom that shows up early on in pregnancy. Higher levels of progesterone in your body during pregnancy can cause you to feel sleepy all day long. Though the duration of your sleep might increase, the quality of sleep during the first trimester is likely to decline as you may wake up frequently.
2. Physical Discomfort
It can be difficult to sleep well if your breasts are tender and sore or if you have pelvic cramping. Also, if sleeping on the tummy has been your favourite sleep position, you may find it difficult to sleep that way once you are pregnant.
3. Need to Urinate
The changes in progesterone levels and your expanding uterus can put pressure on your bladder, leading to an increased urge to urinate. This can cause you to wake up often at night, thus interrupting your sleep.
4. Morning Sickness
Though known as morning sickness, nausea can strike during any time of the day, including night-time.
Progesterone is the reason you are more prone to heartburn during pregnancy. Heartburn is a burning sensation you get in your chest and/or throat as if your heart were burning. Since progesterone relaxes the muscles of the oesophagus, stomach contents can flow back and cause indigestion which, in turn, can disrupt your sleep.
It is understandable that you are anxious during pregnancy, given all the changes you are going through, especially if it is your first time. Adjusting to the physical and emotional changes can be overwhelming and can impact your sleep habits.
Finest Sleeping Positions in the First Trimester
It might at first seem that there is no comfortable sleeping position possible during the early months of pregnancy, as sleeping on the back and the tummy both become difficult as the pregnancy progresses. So, if these were the only two positions you like, it is time to change your preferences. You can try one of the following sleeping positions during early pregnancy to ensure a full night of relaxing sleep:
1. Sleeping on Side (SOS)
Sleeping on your side – right or left – is considered safe and comfortable at all stages of your pregnancy. It is best to alternate between the sides and not sleep for a long time on one side, especially the right (since sleeping on your right side can worsen heartburns).
2. Sleeping on Your Back
While this may not be one of the best sleeping positions during pregnancy, lying on your back initially works well. For the first 3 months, it might feel comfortable. As your bump grows, however, it can put pressure on your back, the intestines and vena cava, and disrupt the flow of blood from the lower body to the heart. Sleeping on your back for long periods during pregnancy can lead to backaches, haemorrhoids, and low blood pressure. Thus, it would be best to try and avoid this position, even though it may be a good sleeping position during early pregnancy. It is best to try and get out of this habit early on during your pregnancy.
3. Sleeping on Your Left Side
The best option is to sleep on your side, especially the left, irrespective of what stage of pregnancy you are in. This helps ensure maximum flow of blood and nutrients to the placenta and improving kidney function. With this, you can also keep swelling at bay. During pregnancy, swelling often occurs in the hands, feet, or ankles.
4. Cushion up
If you have tried all these different sleeping positions but are not yet comfortable, it might be time to turn to cushions. Lie on your side with your legs bent and place a cushion between your knees. You can also prop up your tummy with a pillow at the same time and see if that works for you.
- Place a pillow or cushion behind your back as you sleep on your side. This will prevent you from rolling onto your back at any time.
- If you experience breathing difficulties while trying to sleep, use a pillow placed under your side to raise your chest and ease your breathing.
- Use a few cushions strategically at various points till you find a position that best suits you.
- Getting a special wedge pillow or body pillow or sleeping in a semi-reclined position also works for some women.
Will Lack of Sleep Harm My Baby?
Sleep problems are quite common during pregnancy and do not cause any harm to the baby. However, sleeplessness can prove exhausting and leave you fatigued and drowsy all the time. Lack of sleep can also be a harbinger of problems like gestational diabetes. Lack of sleep can also have an impact on the duration of labour and the type of delivery you eventually have. So, it is important to rest and take short naps whenever you feel tired or overworked during your pregnancy.
Sleep Aids During Pregnancy
There are some simple and safe sleep aids that you can use to ensure that you get the sleep you need during the crucial first trimester of your pregnancy. Getting adequate sleep is essential to your well-being so you can have a trouble-free and easy delivery.
1. Set up a Schedule
Make a sleep timetable. Yes, you read that right! Plan your naps for some time between 2 and 4 in the afternoon and no later to ensure you can sleep well at night. It could even be two short cat naps instead of one long nap.
2. Forget the Bed
There is no rule that you must catch your sleep on your bed. Find a comfortable armchair or a couch that feels comfortable and doze off. Even that cosy rocking chair on the porch might be a good idea for a quick round of shut-eye.
Beat the Heartburn
Eat at least two hours before your bedtime to let your meal settle down a bit. When sleeping, be sure to elevate your head a bit with an extra pillow and not lay flat. If you think you can feel hungry late at night, have a warm glass of milk and something bland to eat just a while before you start preparing for bed.
4. Cut Down on Liquids Before Bedtime
Pregnancy can cause you to urinate more often, especially during the night. So, try to limit the quantity of fluids you consume a couple of hours before bedtime. But be sure to stay hydrated all day long by drinking water, juice and milk at regular intervals.
5. Fight the Nausea
If your morning sickness hits at odd hours and keeps you up nights too, it is time to tackle it head-on. Keep some salty biscuits or crackers handy on your bedside table. Also, try and eat six small meals throughout the day instead of three big ones, as heavy meals can induce vomiting.
6. Get Comfortable
Use as many pillows and cushions as you want to make yourself comfortable before you fall asleep. Body length pillows or special pillows that offer support to the belly and back can prove extremely helpful at all stages of your pregnancy.
7. Learn to Relax
When it is bedtime, push all your worries and undone tasks away from your mind and focus on getting rest. If the prospect of giving birth is what scares you, talk to someone about it or write it all down in a diary. Steer clear of sugar and caffeine in the evenings and do something soothing for some time before you head to bed. Soft music, a soothing shower or a cup of warm milk can do the trick.
Solutions to Getting Good Sleep During the First Trimester
Relaxation techniques and moderate exercise can be helpful in promoting good sleep habits during pregnancy. These can help loosen up your body and muscles while soothing your mind.
If you had not been doing yoga before your pregnancy, enrol for a class intended for pregnant women and where you get personalised attention. The neck, shoulders, back, waist, and calves should be the primary areas of focus. This can also help your body stay flexible during delivery.
Deep breathing and meditation can calm down your soothed nerves while stabilising the heart rate and easing muscle stress. This also promotes good sleep at night.
Getting your hands and feet massaged is a great way to ease stress and discomfort. If your doctor says yes, get a professional prenatal massage appointment set up.
4. Channel Your Thoughts
As you ready yourself for bed, visualise a beautiful scene in your mind. From a tranquil lake to a meadow of flowers, think of something pleasant and appealing. Imagine every little detail about the place to distract your mind from worries and stressful thoughts. This can lull your mind into a peaceful sleep at night.
Do not give up completely on your exercise regimen simply because you are pregnant. In fact, moderate exercise has been proven to be effective in promoting good sleep. Exercising too close to your bedtime is not advised. Day time and the early evening are the best times to exercise.
Worst Sleeping Positions During the First Trimester
It is best to adopt a safe and comfortable sleeping position right at the start of your pregnancy rather than waiting until you are further on. Apart from preventing back pain and body aches, this also helps keep away issues such as low blood pressure and digestion problems. Here is a list of bad sleeping positions during pregnancy which must be avoided throughout:
1. On Your Tummy
Sleeping on the stomach while pregnant is to be avoided at all costs. It is considered the worst sleeping position during pregnancy. It can lead to lower back pain and strain the muscles of your neck. As your tummy starts to grow, laying on it may not be a good idea. This can also cause the blood flow to the foetus getting cut off, not to mention the dizziness and nausea that will accompany it.
2. On Your Back
Sleeping on your back during pregnancy is an open invitation to aches and pains. As the uterus grows, it pushes on to cause a scarcity of oxygen to the foetus. It can also impair the digestive function aside from causing low blood pressure and poor circulation. This manifests as dizziness when you suddenly stand up from a sitting or lying position. Sleeping on your back can also lead to blocking of the vena cava which carries blood back to the heart from the lower extremities. Sleep apnea and snoring can also show up when in a supine position.
How Much Sleep Do I Need in the Early Stages of Pregnancy?
Though the normal sleep requirement for adults is anywhere between 7 to 10 hours, during pregnancy, it is likely to go up because your body is going through a major change. There are no hard and fast rules about this, but it is best to sleep whenever your body tells you to. The number of hours varies from woman to woman because each one is different.
If you have been pregnant before, you know how tired and fatigued you can feel during pregnancy. Be sure to catch up on some extra sleep to compensate for all this. Around 9 hours of sleep might be considered normal for a pregnant woman to stay healthy and have a delivery that is free of complications. Whether it is first pregnancy or second, adequate sleep is a must for all, especially during the different stages of pregnancy.
Follow these tips, but remember: do not to panic if you wake up and find yourself in a less desirable sleeping position. Your body can find comfortable positions as you sleep. Remember to catch up on your beauty sleep whenever you can during your pregnancy because once the baby gets here, sleepless nights are the norm