MH finds out just how much more important sleep is now that you’re pregnant and the changes to expect.
WORDS RACHEL LIM
Pregnancy poses numerous challenges to the sleep health of expectant mothers. Excessive daytime sleepiness and night-time insomnia are common during pregnancy.
Sleep Changes During Each Trimester of Pregnancy
The First Trimester
In early pregnancy, many women constantly feel tired and sleepy, even before their baby bumps start to show. The sharp rise in the pregnancy hormone progesterone is the likely culprit. The increased level of progesterone may also cause you to feel a frequent need to pee, thereby disrupting your night rest, worsening sleepiness and fatigue in the day. Another factor that can drain an expectant mum in the first trimester is morning sickness or nausea, which can happen any time of the day or night.
The Second Trimester
In this honeymoon stage of pregnancy, most women usually feel energised once again as pregnancy hormonal changes level off. However, your sleep may still be less than ideal with the onset of leg cramps – painful spasms through the calves to the legs. Also, many expectant women start experiencing heartburn and other gastrointestinal discomforts in the second half of their pregnancies.
The Third Trimester
In the last leg of pregnancy, sleep becomes challenging for most women once again. Steep hormonal changes, a ballooning belly, and an active baby-in-womb are the likely causes. You may struggle to find a comfortable position for your back as your uterus grows heavier and presses on nerves in your spine. You may also feel breathless as your womb pushes towards your ribs and lungs. Many expectant mummies also feel exceptionally warm in their last trimester, making it difficult to fall asleep.
How to Reduce Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?
Incorporating a gentle workout into your day can give you an oxygen boost and chase away sluggishness.
Many exercises are safe to do during pregnancy, as long as
you exercise caution and not overdo it.
The safest and most productive ones include swimming (use a swim noodle if you do not know how to submerge your head in water), brisk-walking (a fantastic alternative to the sedentary couch-time with the hubs), jogging (especially when you have been doing it pre-pregnancy), indoor stationary cycling, elliptical machines, low-impact and aqua aerobics, prenatal yoga and Pilates (at normal room temperature).
Avoid unhealthy snacks such as ice-cream, chocolate, and pastries which are high in sugar content. These sugary “energy boosters” cause a sharp rise in blood sugar followed by a quick and deep plummet, leaving you more tired than before. For your baby’s sake and yours, you need wholesome and clean food such as:
Take responsible coffee breaks
If you had a heavy reliance on coffee pre-pregnancy, you need to be a little more watchful now that you’re pregnant. Medical research recommends limiting your caffeine consumption to fewer than 200 milligrammes (mg) per day. Going over that amount could have negative effects such as an increased risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, and even stillbirth. Be aware that the amount of caffeine in your coffee will vary depending on the type of coffee and how it is brewed. Also remember, decaffeinated sadly doesn’t mean caffeine-free. If you desperately need your caffeine fix, you might want to choose a latte (about 75 mg of caffeine).
Dear mommas-to-be, guard your sleep for it is the wellspring of your baby’s health and yours, both physically and emotionally. There is compelling evidence indicating that sleep is critical to a healthy immunity and sleep disruptions contribute to depression. We have heard mostly about sleep issues plaguing new mothers but it is definitely worthwhile to start paying attention to your sleep health during the antenatal stage. Talk to your healthcare provider and seek help if you have concerns about your sleep.