Pregnancy is a time of great anticipation, and excitement- after all, the news that you are expecting is always a time of tremendous change in your life. But along with the great excitement, can come serious disturbances to your regular sleep patterns.
Problems with sleep are often associated with the period after birth, however, with many expecting mothers; it is likely to start well before the birth of your child.
Many women report feeling extremely fatigued during pregnancy, especially during the first and third trimesters. And, when you take into account the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy and the sheer prevalence of sleep disorders among pregnant women, it’s no wonder that expectant mothers are so prone to bouts of lethargy and pronounced tiredness.
A pregnancy places an undue strain and pressure on your body; a consequence of your body going through a wide range of significant changes. These changes can cause discomfort in a range of ways, potentially disrupting a peaceful sleep, which can affect your pregnancy health.
What to expect in each trimester
With the newfound excitement and anticipation comes a big change in your hormonal levels and physical condition.
The changes you experience are likely to impact your ability to get a good night’s sleep in the following ways: pronounced and/or vivid dreams, prolonged fatigue and nausea or morning sickness.
An increase in the size of your abdomen, especially during your second trimester will become particularly pronounced, the most obvious effect being felt when sleeping on your back or inability to sleep on your stomach.
Foetal movement may begin to impact your sleeping pattern towards the end of the second trimester, although with many expecting mothers, the prevailing fatigue and nausea common in the first trimester subsides, and leaves you with a good chance to restore relatively normal sleeping patterns in preparation for the third trimester.
The third trimester is where your sleeping pattern is likely to become more and more fragmented…the bigger your belly gets, as the more discomfort you’re likely to experience.
A number of things begin to affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep. These may include; further increase in foetal movement, shortness of breath, general feeling of physical discomfort, restless leg syndrome, cramps and a frequency of urination/irritated bladder.
Now that you need a good night’s sleep more than ever, it’s, unfortunately, harder than ever to get. Keep in mind, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable for a few nights per week or even a few weeks; your body will most likely adjust to a new position given time.
S.O.S & other sleeping positions
The SOS, or sleep on side position (Sleep On Side) is regarded as the most comfortable and recommended sleeping position, and studies show sleeping on your left side, can be even better for comfort. This is because sleeping on the left side of your body boosts the levels of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby.
The S.O.S position is similar to the recovery or coma position used after CPR, which is the left lateral side position, best for optimal blood flow, being on your side with your legs bent, commonly with a support pillow placed between the legs, sometimes even underneath the abdomen for extra support.
The semi-recumbent position is also a recommended sleeping position throughout pregnancy and is best achieved by lying on your back, propped up by wedges and pillows to achieve a semi-upright position.
The wedged-off position is similar to the S.O.S. position, with you placed on your side and with a pregnancy wedge, or even a rolled-up hand towel placed under the abdomen, increasing blood flow and adding to your comfort.
Before 20 weeks, however, we strongly recommend that you sleep in whichever position makes you most comfortable, as prior to this stage the effects of sleeping in any position, in particular, are negligible, if non-existent, so instead of confusing yourself, simply try to be as comfortable as you possibly can. Mothers have been sleeping in all kinds of positions for centuries; however, these new best practice suggestions are simply aiming to maximising comfort and healthiness for you and your child.
How to get a better night’s sleep
A few tips to make your sleep a more comfortable one…
- Regular exercise goes a long way in not just keeping you and your child healthy, but also does wonders for tiredness and your ability to get a good night’s sleep
- Sleep aids will significantly increase your comfort levels
- Many pregnant women experience pronounced tiredness, notably in the first and third trimesters, so take a nap when you’re feeling tired!
- Make sleep a priority
- It is common to experience a mild shortness of breath during late-term pregnancy- this is best mitigated by propping your upper-body with pillows to increase blood flow.
What not to do…
The later the stage, the more uncomfortable it will become to sleep on your back; the greater the size of your abdomen, the greater the pressure on your internal organs, muscles and back. This increased pressure can aggravate backaches and haemorrhoids and make digestion less efficient, we as well as interfere with circulation, and possibly cause hypotension, which can make you dizzy.
Less-than-optimal circulation can also reduce blood flow to the foetus, giving your baby less oxygen and nutrients. It’s not unsafe if you find yourself on your back once in a while, but being on your back for prolonged periods of time over weeks and months can cause discomfort later on.
The greater the size of your abdomen, the more the size of your belly becomes a factor in your sleep cycle. This will impact your ability to sleep on your stomach or face side down, and the further along in your pregnancy the more uncomfortable this will become.
For any queries, or simply to talk to the staff at Dr Morris Mother & baby, get in touch here, or give us a call on (02) 9261 8550- we’re here to help!