Everyone deserves a good night’s sleep. This is all the more important with a pregnant woman. Improper sleep can keep you exhausted and stressed out. While you are trying everything during your pregnancy to avoid the stress, ignoring your sleep can cause a major setback.
And this especially may become difficult during pregnancy, cause of your increasing size. Many women are used to sleeping on their backs or stomach, and pregnancy can be a tasking period, as they might not feel comfortable doing both.
Here are a few reasons why women find it difficult to sleep comfortably while they are pregnant:
Growing body and uterus size:
Pregnancy not only causes your uterus to enlarge, but your entire body as well to a certain extent. Some women also experience more swelling on the hands and feet as compared to others. Also, almost all experience breast enlargement and tenderness. Because of this, they might find it difficult to sleep comfortably in any one position. Especially some women have a habit of sleeping on their stomachs. This is quite impossible in pregnancy, as it might feel like sleeping on a pumpkin!
Heart burn and acid reflux:
The nausea and vomiting does enough to trouble a woman during her pregnancy, and in severe cases, does not spare her, especially when she is trying to sleep. In the lying down position, the chances of acid regurgitation and nausea are highest. Because of the constant acid reflux and heart burn, even a non-pregnant person finds it difficult to sleep, the situation being much more uncomfortable for an expecting mother.
As your uterus grows, it presses on your urinary bladder, making you have an urge to urinate every now and then. Especially when you lie down, this pressure becomes all more severe, and many pregnant women keep waking up at night due to the urge of urination. This hinders them from getting a peaceful full night’s sleep. The condition is worse with diabetic mothers or those who have developed gestational diabetes– that is, diabetes during pregnancy.
The exact cause of breathlessness or exacerbation of asthma during pregnancy is not known, over many theories have been put forth. Your growing uterus compresses against the diaphragm and in turn against the lungs, reducing their functional capacity. Also your body increases the number of respirations you take per minute at later stages of pregnancy to ensure that you’re getting enough oxygen to supply to your baby. All these conditions together may leave the mother breathless, and gasping for air, and interfere with her peaceful night sleep.
Many women are very anxious about their pregnancy and have many fears related to the unborn baby: how will the baby be; will I be able to cope up; how will I manage my finances and a thousand others. These cause mental stress and interfere with a healthy sleep.
Though the exact reason is not known, many women have nightmares and scary dreams during their pregnancy. It is believed that these are related to the anxieties and fears in the mind of the mother, which get fed into her subconscious mind, and leave her with all those scary dreams and nightmares, and wake her up at night.
Some babies are active during the day, some at late evenings or at night. A mother may be sleeping peacefully, but a sudden hard kick from inside can make anyone jump in bed! In those mothers, where the babies like to toss and turn and play at night, being restful and getting sleep may become difficult.
Yes it’s true! A pregnant woman may suddenly develop cravings or feel hungry. These hunger pangs till subsided, can interfere with her sleep.
Chronic diseases and sleep disorders:
Many women already have chronic diseases which cause insomnia- that is, inability to get the required sound sleep. With all the conditions mentioned above, their insomnia may get worsened not allowing them to sleep at all. Also the sleeping medications which they had been prescribed with, may not be recommended during pregnancy. These conditions are often most difficult to treat.
Thus, because of the reasons listed, many expecting mothers find it difficult to get proper rest. This has to be tackled with a multidisciplinary approach: Proper diet, counseling to relieve the exercises, deep breathing exercises, maintaining a time-table and trying to bring your sleep disorders under control before planning a baby.
These can go a long way in preventing your pregnancy from hampering your sleep. Also it is important to know about the proper sleeping position.
Most of the doctors recommend SOS for sleeping in pregnancy: Sleep on Sides. Sleeping on the back places your pregnant uterus on your main blood vessels and intestines. This can interfere with proper blood circulation, cause pooling of blood in limbs giving rise to swelling, and interfere with digestion making you feel bloated or constipated.
An expecting mother can sleep on any side she feels comfortable-right, or left, though the left may be more recommended. This is because the liver is on the right hand side, and if you sleep on your left, your uterus is relieved of a large pressure. Also while sleeping on the side, cross the legs over another, and try to take a pillow between them. Keep your head also supported by a pillow or head rest. This position is regarded as the best as it ensures best blood supply, and no collection of blood in the limbs.
The pressure from your main blood vessels is also taken off and the kidneys are also able to function properly- thus with proper urinary elimination, the chances of swelling in hands and feet again are reduced. Though you may find this position a little uncomfortable in the beginning, if you try this for a few days, you may eventually be able to get a peaceful sleep. Additional help can be obtained by making use of a lot of pillows which make you feel cozy and cared for. There are a lot of “pregnancy pillows” available commercially in the market which can help you in this endeavor.