We explain why you might be finding it hard to sleep, while pregnant, and what you can do to sleep more...
When you’re pregnant, one thing that lots of people say to you is: “Get lots of sleep… while you can!” This is usually accompanied by a knowing smile and a wink, because they know that you have sleepless nights ahead of you, once the baby is here.
Early on in your pregnancy, you'll probably find you need a lot more sleep. Many women say they go to bed at 8pm in those early weeks, cancelling all social plans and getting as much rest as possible. Then, as your pregnancy progresses, you may find it hard to sleep - which can be so frustrating!
Unborn babies can be more active at night - as your baby grows inside your uterus, you might find you’re not aware of any movement during the day, yet as soon as you relax in the evenings, it’s like someone is dancing the tango in there. “When you sleep, your muscles are relaxed, which encourages the baby to move around more,” says midwife Clemmie Hooper who blogs at Gas And Air. “As a pregnancy progresses, the baby becomes very heavy so there’s a lot of pressure being put on the mother’s bladder and often the stomach too. The baby’s movement – and the need to wee, thanks to the pressure on your bladder – keep many women awake."
As well as all of this, rising hormone levels in the third trimester can lead to vivid dreams and back aches, brought on by your pelvic joints relaxing, ahead of labour. Add to this the possibility of Braxton Hicks – weak ‘warm up’ contractions – and heart burn, you’ve got yourself a body that isn’t geared up for a restful sleep.
Is this nature's way of playing a cruel trick on us? "There’s a strong suggestion that your body is ‘preparing’ you for the sleepless nights ahead,” says Clemmie. “I had one pregnant mum who woke up at 4am every night before labour, and she felt it was her adjusting to her new ‘body clock’. When her baby was born, he woke up every morning at 4am. That was his most awake time.”
Thankfully, there are some really easy things you can do to help. “Having a bath before bed is a great way to relax you and take away all the aches and pains,” says Clemmie. “You can also try doing hypnobirthing exercises before bed – there are lots of CDs available.” Popping some lavender oil on your pillow works wonders, ditch the phone from your bedroom and instead, read a book to relax your mind. If you’re trying all of those things and you’re still waking up lots during the night, Clemmie has some great advice: “I always say to my mums: think about what you’d do if you had a newborn, so if you can, have naps during the day to keep your energy levels up.”
Do you have any tips on getting more sleep while pregnant? Share below in the comments or tweet us @TalkMum.