Pregnancy and sleep can be tough bedfellows. Tiredness and even exhaustion are very common side effects of pregnancy, particularly in the first and last trimesters. This is due to both the physical changes your body has to undergo to carry your growing baby and also the fact that your natural sleep patterns will undoubtedly be affected.
Sleeping during the first trimester
In the first few months of pregnancy, hormonal changes play a huge part in making you feel tired. Rising progesterone can result in drowsiness and can also be partly to blame for the endless daytime and night time trips to the bathroom in those first few weeks of early pregnancy. Whilst it is very important to drink plenty of fluids during the day, it is recommended by the NHS that, where possible, expectant mums reduce fluid intake in the evening to prevent too many trips to the toilet.
If you do have to get up in the middle of the night, it is also recommended to avoid turning on too many lights. Use a nightlight or torch instead as artificial light will cause adrenaline production and it will be harder to fall back to sleep.
Other factors affect pregnancy and sleep. Issues creating discomfort at night include sore or tender breasts that will make sleeping on your front very uncomfortable if that is your preferred position. Temperature fluctuations are also very common in early pregnancy due to an increase in metabolic rate, so it is often recommended to keep a fan nearby in case you wake up with the dreaded night sweats.
Top Tip: consider whether a quick nap during the day where possible will help or hinder your night time sleep. If you can have a couple of short daytime naps without impacting your ability to fall asleep at night then make the most of having the perfect excuse to get a little shut eye during the day.
Sleeping through the second trimester
Pregnancy and sleep go together better in the second trimester. In fact, the second trimester is often referred to as the ‘honeymoon’ period of pregnancy, where expectant mums feel less nauseous, have slightly more energy and will often be complimented on their glowing complexions. Hormonal changes have levelled out slightly and your body is not going through quite as many changes as quickly as those first few months.
However, a couple of common night time complaints in the second trimester are leg cramps and restless leg syndrome. Both are unpleasant and can often only be eased if you stand up and walk around, disrupting your sleep. Heartburn can also be a common complaint at this stage.
Top Tip: There are plenty of natural and over the counter remedies that can be used to ease heartburn symptoms, such as peppermint tea and indigestion remedies but always seek medical or professional advice before consuming. For leg cramps and restless leg syndrome try avoiding carbonated drinks before bed.
The final trimester
Pregnancy and sleep can be tougher in the third trimester when sleep disruption really kicks in. It is very common for women to have problems falling asleep and they will probably wake up more times during the night and early morning than they did during their second trimester.
It is difficult to find a comfortable position to sleep in once you hit the final stages of pregnancy and your bump increases. Your baby will also be bigger and far more active than previous months so it can often be difficult to fall asleep if your baby is practising their kicking skills.
General aches and pains also increase in the final months of pregnancy. This is particularly common around the pelvis area as ligaments and joints begin to soften in preparation for the big day.
Top Tip: If you really can’t get to sleep don’t just lie there getting more frustrated, try reading a book for a short while or a warm bath before you go to bed.
And remember, although it can be extremely frustrating coping with sleep deprivation throughout pregnancy it will all be worth it once you hold your baby for the first time.