Your partner and you are all excited – when you learn that you are pregnant – and going to be a mother very soon. The good news reaches out to your family, friends, and loved ones. Everyone is ecstatic.
Soon, you are making regular visits to the doctor, undergoing important tests – and getting all the necessary information regarding the dos and don’ts of pregnancy.
From the starting point of healthy nutrition and changes in your body – to morning sickness and pregnancy exercises –it can be quite overwhelming, as you begin to take this beautiful and yet challenging journey.
During the first trimester of your pregnancy – you may sleep more than usual. Your entire body is working hard in order to nurture, protect and develop your growing baby. During this time, it is normal for you to feel tired and sleep for longer hours.
However, during the later stages of pregnancy, almost all pregnant women complain about this – it comes to a point when getting a good night’s sleep becomes real difficult. In certain case, a daunting task.
So, how can you improve your quality of sleep during this crucial period?
By habit, you may enjoy sleeping on your back or stomach. However, this sleeping position has to change.
A doctor would always recommend that if you are pregnant – or in the early stages of your pregnancy – you need to start developing the habit and learn how to sleep on your sides.
As you progress with your pregnancy – one of the most comfortable positions is to lie on your left side with your knees bent. It will also avoid the weight of your baby – from applying pressure on a large vein – known as inferior vena cava. This vein plays an important role by carrying blood back to your heart from the feet and legs. In addition, this sleeping position will put less pressure on your heart and it will function more efficiently, when compared to the other sleeping positions.
On your stomach:
It is fine to sleep on your tummy during the early stages of your pregnancy. However, as you progress, it is highly important that you switch and try to quickly adapt yourself to a safer position – as sleeping on your stomach is dangerous for your growing baby.
On your back:
During your first trimester, you do not have to worry about your sleeping position. However, when you are in your second trimester – you will have to try your best not to sleep on your back.
One of the key reasons you should not lie on your back is because your uterus tends to apply pressure on the vein that returns blood to your heart. Subsequently, if you continue to lie in the same position for a longer duration, it could limit the right amount of nutrients and blood to reach your placenta and your growing baby. Additionally, there will be moments where you may feel nauseous and dizzy.
On your right hand side:
During the later stages of pregnancy, sleeping on your right hand side is much better than lying on your stomach or your back. However, doctors would always recommend that you do not lie in this position as it increases pressure on your liver. Anything that adds pressure to your internal organs is not good for you and your baby.
On your left hand side:
Right from the start, your doctor will highly recommend that you sleep on your left hand side. With this position, your heavy uterus will not put pressure on your liver. This position will not restrict blood flow as well. It will help circulation, and therefore there will be optimal flow of blood reaching your growing baby and your entire body as well. In addition, through the placenta, your growing baby will continue to receive the right amount of blood, nutrients, and oxygen.
You do not have to worry or get upset if you wake up on your right side or on your back. Shifting your position during your sleep is a normal process that you cannot control. However, it is paramount, that right from the beginning you need to develop the habit of sleeping on your left hand side. There are instances when you will shift onto your back – and that’s the time when your baby’s weight will start applying pressure bon your vein – the inferior vena cava. There will be a form of discomfort and you will probably wake up.
In all probability, during your third and final trimester, it will get to uncomfortable if you are in the back sleeping position. You will instantly realize and automatically shift to the apt position.
There are high chances that during the later stages of your pregnancy, your baby bump will instantly make sure that you maintain or sleep on your left side. On the other hand, you could also ask your partner to help you gently slide to your left. Even if they are fast asleep, wake them up. It is certain that they wouldn’t mind helping you.
A study was conducted in Auckland, New Zealand, relating to the benefits of sleeping on the left. When pregnant women slept on their left hand side – on the last night of their pregnancy – the risk of stillbirth is halved.
But what are the other common physical symptoms that will prevent you from sleeping well at night?
Frequent visits to the bathroom:
During the time of pregnancy, your kidneys begin to work harder. They tend to filter the increasing volume of blood that is moving through your body. There is an increase of 30%-50%. It is more than you had before your pregnancy. Later, this filtering process results in more urine.
In addition, as your baby is growing, the uterus is getting bigger too. Subsequently, your bladder experiences an increase in pressure too. It results in you making more trips to the bathroom – both day and night. Moreover, if your baby is more active during the night, it is observed that the number of night-time visits to the bathroom increases.
As your uterus enlarges, it begins to take up more space. A muscle just below your lungs – known as the diaphragm – begins to feel the pressure. This leads to difficulty in breathing.By the increase in pregnancy hormones your breathing may be affected. You will notice that you are taking in deep breaths and you’ll feel that you are working harder in order to get air.
Heart rate increases:
During pregnancy, your heart will begin to pump more blood in order to reach to the uterus. On the other hand, your heart begins to work even harder because it needs to send a sufficient amount of blood to the rest of your body. This leads to an increase in your heart rate.
Backaches and leg cramps:
As you begin to put on extra weight, you will start experiencing pain in your back and legs. In addition, during this period, your body begins to produce a hormone known as relaxin. This hormone prepares you for childbirth.
Pregnant women become less stable, as relaxin tends to loosen their ligaments throughout the body. Subsequently, they are more prone to injury – especially when it comes to their backs.
Constipation and heartburn:
During the pregnancy period, your entire digestive system slows down. The food present in your stomach and intestines continue to stay for a longer duration. As the uterus continues to grow, this also applies pressure on the stomach or large intestine – which can lead to heartburn and constipation.
Many pregnant women also experience heartburn. This mostly occurs when the contents of the stomach tend to bounce back up into the esophagus.
Mostly in the later stages of pregnancy, a lot of women find it hard to get good and uninterrupted sleep.
Generally, it also gets complex as you try to find a comfortable sleeping position. This is because your body is undergoing a major change – It is increasing the size of your foetus. As you progress with your pregnancy, and as you increase in size, even shifting or moving around in your bed becomes difficult at night. This results in interrupted and lower quality sleep.
Additionally, during your pregnancy, the placenta is an organ that begins to develop in your uterus. Its function is to provide nutrients and oxygen – and also remove the waste products from your growing baby. Your body is working hard in producing more blood. In addition, you heart is pumping blood at a faster rate than usual.
With so many different kinds of changes taking place in your body, your quality of sleep does get affected.
What are some of the other probable reasons?
Stress tends to be one of the major causes as well. You may be worrying about your abilities as a parent, the finances, and your baby’s health or nervous about the delivery as well.
During this period, some pregnant women have mentioned that their dreams become more vivid than before, and some also experience nightmares.
Quick tips on how you can sleep better
- Never opt for over-the-counter sleep aids, including herbal remedies.
- You need to make a conscious effort to keep away from caffeinated drinks, including coffee, tea, and soft drinks.
- You should avoid drinking any kinds of fluids or eating a large meal within a few hours of going to bed.
- Throughout the day, ensure you get plenty of liquids and essential nutrients.
- Smart eating – a heavy breakfast and lunch and a smaller portion for dinner.
- A consistent approach with your timing – like going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday.
- Before going to bed, it is important that you avoid any form of rigorous exercise.
- Involve yourself in something that will help you relax – a warm bath for 15 minutes, a glass of warm milk, or herbal tea.
- You can reduce leg cramps by making sure you are getting a good amount of calcium in your diet.
- In order to help you unwind after a busy day – you could enroll yourself in a yoga class or learn other forms of relaxation techniques. But first, you need to make sure you discuss your new activity or fitness regimen with your doctor.
- If fear and anxiety is keeping you awake at night, consider enrolling in a parenting or childbirth class. With the company of other pregnant women, sharing your thoughts and acquiring more knowledge about this vital period in your life can help you stay strong mentally – and eventually sleep better.
There will be times when you just can’t sleep. It is absolutely normal. You should stop tossing, turning and worrying as to why you are not falling asleep. You could get up and engage yourself in one of your favourite hobbies or any other activities like reading a book, listening to relaxing music, or watching TV. Eventually, you will feel tired and go back to sleep.
On the other hand, during the day you could make up for lost sleep from the previous night. Take a short nap for about 30-60 minutes. You will wake up fresh, energetic and you can get back to completing your everyday tasks.
Alternatively, you could also try experimenting with your pillows Some pregnant women find a comfortable sleeping position when they place a pillow between their legs or under their abdomen. In addition, employing a bunched-up pillow or rolled-up blanket behind your back will help you relieve some pressure.
Currently, there are plenty of pregnancy pillows that are available on the market. However, it is important that you consult your doctor and find out if they will be suitable.
How do pregnancy pillows by Pillows Australia help soon-to-be mums?
Pillows Australia pay close attention to the needs of expecting mothers. Their pillows have been designed to give you the comfort and support you need during this significant time of your life. They will help you sleep and rest better.
Their Pregnancy and Maternity Support Pillows are made and designed in Australia and in consultation with Australian health care practitioners. They produce state-of-the-art products, highly suitable and recommended for pregnant women.
The pillows and body supports that have been developed undergo a meticulous amount of work. They will gently conform to women of different shapes and sizes during their pregnancy period. The products are a brilliant combination, and will bring you a high level of comfort and durability. Moreover, they are also designed to gently conform to different body positions.
From reading and resting to meditating and sleeping – The Tummy Snuggler Maternity Support Cushion is an ideal choice. It will provide you the soft pleasant cushioning and give you a great form of relaxation – both mentally and physically.
The Pregnancy and Maternity Body Pillows will effortlessly support you – whether you are on the couch or bed.
The Pregnancy and Maternity Support Pillows will help you battle your tired and aching muscles, back pain, stiff spines, and body soreness. You will notice that your quality of sleep is improving – you are getting a better rest, feeling healthy overall, and eagerly looking forward to your momentous day.
Here at The Back and Neck Bed Shop, we stock an extensive range of Pregnancy, Maternity and Body Support Pillows, made by Pillows Australia.
With thanks to Therapeutic Pillows Australia for allowing us to reproduce this article.