By Mariel Uyquiengco
Pregnancy is a unique state of the human body, as it is working hard to support two lives. This increased load means that a pregnant mama will get tired faster and need more sleep. At the same time, the change in her body functions also wreaks havoc on her sleep pattern, making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
One needs to understand the different changes happening during the three stages of pregnancy in order to take appropriate steps for a better sleep.
-The surge of the pregnancy hormone progesterone and the growing embryo pushes down on the bladder, causing frequent urination.
-Emotional stress brought about by being pregnant tires a woman out.
-Progesterone causes increased sleepiness especially during daytime.
-The body’s involuntary muscles such as the one closing our esophagus from our stomach is more relaxed, causing increased nausea and vomiting. This is commonly referred to as morning sickness although many women will tell you that it can occur at any point in the day.
What to do:
-During the first twelve weeks, rest, particularly sleep, should be a priority. Naps are encouraged as long as it is not taken close to bedtime.
-Fluids should be regularly taken to stay hydrated but should be decreased before going to bed.
-Avoid turing on the light when going to the bathroom during the night, this may disrupt the sleep cycle and may force the brain to stay alert. Use night-lights instead.
-Take in bland food such as crackers to prevent nausea and vomiting.
-Use more pillows to support head and neck; this will help lessen morning sickness.
-Progesterone levels off during this period resulting in less daytime sleepiness, less frequent urination, and decreased nausea.
-As the baby grows, the uterus also grows bigger into the abdomen, lessening the pressure on the pelvis; this decreases the frequent need to urinate.
-The downside of this is that now the uterus is exerting pressure on the stomach, intestines and diaphragm causing Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) commonly known as heartburn.
-It is also interesting to note that there is an increased incidence of nightmares during this time.
What to do:
-Rest is still critical during this period. Although a pregnant woman will generally sleep better, she needs to recover from her ordeal during the past three months and prepare for the last trimester.
-Sleeping on the abdomen is now impossible and shouldn’t be attempted at all – as is sleeping flat on the back. Instead, an expecting mother should lie down on her left side to relieve pressure on the back muscles, avoid compression of the major blood vessels, and provide the best circulation for the baby.
-Spicy, oily, and acidic food should also be avoided to prevent heartburn. In severe cases, antacids may be prescribed.
-As for the nightmares, relaxation techniques, yoga and exercise help in minimizing vivid dreams. However, one should not hesitate to consult a therapist if the dreams truly take an emotional toll on the pregnant woman.
-The pregnant woman’s belly will grow to its largest and then descend to the pelvic area to prepare for the birth. This once again puts pressure on the bladder causing the return of frequent urination.
-With the belly at its heaviest, the back becomes strained, resulting in exhaustion.
-The baby is also most active during this period, sometimes causing insomnia.
What to do:
-At this point, the expectant mother should always try to sleep on her left side. Putting in more pillows may help her in getting comfortable in this position.
-Revisit techniques to help with frequent urination.
-Continue exercising to strengthen muscles and improves circulation.
-As for fetal movements, they cannot be stopped. Soothing techniques such as listening to classical music and talking to the baby may relax the mother and may have a positive effect on the child.
Mariel Uyquiengco hopes to inspire parents to be their children’s first and best teacher. She does this through her blog and online children’s book shop www.thelearningbasket.com and by giving parenting seminars about early childhood development, preschool homeschool, and raising children to be readers.