One of the biggest pieces of advice moms-to-be receive is “get your sleep now before baby arrives!” But between insomnia, little legs kicking your bladder, heartburn, leg cramps and more, that is much easier said than done. Many mamas find themselves roaming around like zombies during the first trimester, as their bodies are exerting so much energy growing that new little human that they find it next to impossible to get a good night’s sleep to recuperate.
Does this sound like you? Given all of the physical changes women go through in early pregnancy, it is no surprise that 8 out of 10 women suffer from sleep problems during pregnancy.
Below are some common sleep issues during the first trimester and some tips on how to overcome them:
1. Daytime Drowsiness
High levels of the hormone progesterone, which helps regulate women’s reproductive cycle, flood through your body in early pregnancy. Not only does progesterone make you feel overwhelmingly drowsy during the day, but it also can disrupt your nighttime sleep leading to even more daytime fatigue. With all of the hormonal and physical changes your body is experiencing, it is no surprise that you are struggling to find the energy to keep up your usual daily rhythm. Allow yourself the time to rest with a short nap or two during the day, when possible, to compensate and know that most women’s energy levels perk up as they make it into the second trimester.
At least 75% of women experience nausea during the early weeks of pregnancy. The often mis-named “morning sickness” can last throughout the day and can be particularly unpleasant at night as it can keep you from sleeping. In order to help the nighttime queasiness subside, keep light snacks, like crackers, by your bed for you to nibble on when you wake up. This will help you feel better so that you can get back to sleep. Additionally, try sipping a cup of ginger tea before bedtime (and throughout the day!) as ginger has been proven to reduce nausea.
3. Midnight Hunger
If nausea isn’t keeping you up, then it could be the constant feeling of hunger throughout the first trimester that is kicking in at night and keeping you from sleep. We have all heard the phrase “eating for two”--and many moms-to-be look forward to some guilt-free cake and doughnut eating--but try eating a balanced healthy diet with whole grains, lean proteins and fresh fruits as these will fill you up and give you and your growing little on the nutrients that you need.
Try eating many small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. This ensure that you and your growing baby have a steady stream of nutrients to fend off any hunger urges that pop up. Eat your meals slowly to avoid any heartburn and feel free to grab a light snack, ideally a protein and complex carb like cheese and crackers, just before bed. This will help steady your sugar levels throughout the night.
4. Constantly Needing To Pee
Is your growing uterus putting unwanted pressure on your bladder, causing you to run for the the bathroom about 100 times a day? This is a common pregnancy woe in early and late pregnancy. You can try to cut down on the nighttime trips to the bathroom by drinking plenty of fluids during the day, but cutting down in the late afternoon and evening. You can also avoid caffeine as this triggers our need to pee (and it will help with any possible insomnia!) and when you do go, lean forward to be sure that you are fully emptying your bladder every time.
Whether it is feelings of anxiety about birth or motherhood, your super-tender breasts that make it difficult to find a comfortable sleep position, heartburn or any of the other reasons mentioned here that are keeping you from sleeping, there is no doubt that insomnia is a common issue amongst pregnant women. If you are finding it hard to fall or stay asleep, try giving yourself a soothing wind-down routine each evening. Soak in a warm bath, drink a glass of warm milk, read a good novel instead of watching a series on Netflix or try some relaxation techniques to help lull you into a calm state and ready for sleep. Make sure that the bedroom is a comfortable, slightly cool, temperature and trade in your afternoon sugar pick-me-up for a nice prenatal yoga class or a brisk walk outdoors.
Expect the first trimester to be exhausting. For most women, insomnia and other sleep issues will pass and if you are really struggling, try giving yourself the opportunity to nap during the day before trying any sleep-inducing supplements, medicines or herbs. Always consult with your doctor if any of these issues become unmanageable.
Written by Sasha Romary. Sasha launched The Modern Mama in 2016 to provide maternity and postpartum support to women worldwide. As a trained postpartum doula, Sasha uses evidence-based information and a practical approach to supporting new parents in preparing for the arrival of a new baby and in the early days of parenthood. Follow her adventures at @_themodernmama.
Image via Stocksnap.