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Talking about Pregnancy: How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Posted Sep 26 2013 12:00am

Attractive pregnant woman holding her back while sitting on a beMost new mothers anticipate sleep deprivation and problems getting a full night’s rest after their newborn baby arrives.

Yet, a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, found a significant degree of sleep disturbances experienced by almost 80 percent of pregnant women.

Stay ahead of the game by utilizing these simple tips that will help you get a better night’s sleep while you’re pregnant and once you have your little one.

Not only do sleep disturbances combine with the natural fatigue of pregnancy to cause significant physical and emotional stressors, it can even affect labor and delivery.

The National Sleep Foundation Web page on pregnancy and sleep disorders reported research findings from the University of California at San Francisco indicating mothers-to-be who slept less than six hours per night experienced extended labors and almost a five-times-greater incidence of cesarean sections .

Finally, discharging a newborn home with a chronically sleep-deprived mother whose usual first responsibilities include responding to the infant’s night awakenings is not an optimal way to promote bonding.

Most issues that prevent pregnant women from obtaining adequate sleep can be related to the effects of increased hormones and the anatomical changes that take place as your body changes to adapt to your baby’s growth. Here, from a trimester view, are the main culprits and what you can do to minimize them.

The major hormonal culprit in the first trimester is progesterone, which increases daytime sleepiness and relaxes the smooth muscles of the body, including that of the bladder. The combination of natural anxiety regarding pregnancy and multiple nocturnal trips to the bathroom can significantly reduce sleep quality. Other common culprits for sleep difficulty in the first trimester include:

  • Sore breasts
  • Headaches
  • Physical & emotional stress

Some women experience a reprieve during the second trimester while others may begin to experience disturbed sleep secondary to their body changes earlier than most.

As advised by the American Pregnancy Association, pregnant women should preferably sleep on their left sides to provide improved circulation to the uterus.

If you aren’t used to sleeping on your side, now is the time to try and become used to the new position. A trip to the bedding department of a Macy’s store to get a few softer, larger and longer extra pillows can help make this transition easier.

Have your partner fold and tuck a pillow behind you to simulate lying on your back if necessary. Place one pillow between your knees for extra comfort.

If your growing belly and breasts feel uncomfortable or in the way, adopt a pillow to hold or hug in order to provide support to these areas.

Because of the crowded conditions in your abdomen, you’ll likely begin to experience frequent heartburn symptoms. In addition to dietary changes, use one or two of those extra pillows to prop your upper body up and decrease acid reflux.

You may need to limit fluid intake for a few hours prior to bedtime as your baby’s growth now begins to place increasing pressure on your bladder.

Finally, it seems that more than a quarter of pregnant women suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome , which often reaches its worse severity during this time.

Treatments to avoid or minimize this annoying condition vary by individuals. Recommended solutions include progressive tightening and relaxation of the legs, hot baths, hot water bottles, ice bags to the feet, squats beside the bed at night, regular daytime exercise and orgasm.

About the AuthorHaley Baker is a personal trainer and registered nurse from Kansas City, MO.

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