Sleep during pregnancy

Physical discomfort, hormonal changes and reduced sleep quality are the relentless companions of pregnancy. If you're an expectant mother struggling with sleep disturbance, you're not alone.

A statistical study by the National Sleep Foundation in the US shows that 78% of American women during pregnancy have pronounced problems when it comes to getting a good night's sleep. Amber Merton of Plush Beds says pregnancy is a double-edged sword.

Body and mind are bubbling with joy and yet, the expectant mother has to struggle with sleep changes during pregnancy. Divided into three quarters or into three periods, the discomfort spans all third quarter.

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Rest and sleep techniques can counteract the discomfort part of the way, but that's not the whole story. Choosing the right pregnancy bed is just as important. This choice is difficult, and it requires a thorough understanding of the bed's qualities - the elevating bed in particular comes into play here.

Sleep changes during the first trimester

The first trimester of pregnancy runs from week 0 to week 12, or in other words, from the time the egg is fertilised until the baby has all the vital parts of its body in place.

In the first trimester of pregnancy, you are likely to wake up several times during the night; you need to go to the toilet more times than usual. In addition, you may have trouble sleeping because of emotional changes. You lie and wonder, and you feel tense because you may be worried about your baby's health.

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Sleep changes during the second trimester

The second trimester runs from week 12 to weeks 22 - 24 (in some cases weeks 26 - 28). Now the baby in the womb is really taking shape and the baby's organs are developing enough for it to live outside the womb.

For most pregnant women, the second trimester is the period in which the fewest sleep problems are experienced. Nightly visits to the toilet are reduced because the baby's position causes less pressure on the bladder. However, emotional problems and stress can still affect your ability to fall asleep and stay in a deep sleep.

Sleep changes during the third trimester

The third trimester runs from weeks 22 - 24 (26 - 28) until birth. It is during this trimester that the baby finishes maturing and gets ready for life outside the womb.

It is during this trimester that you will experience your most challenging sleep problems. The growing belly makes it more difficult for you to find a comfortable sleeping position, and nightly toilet visits increase to the same extent as the first trimester. Add to this the discomfort associated with leg cramps, sinus strain, sleep apnoea, restless leg syndrome, back pain and heartburn.

How do you sleep?

Despite the many problems, it is possible to improve your sleep quality.

It is an advantage to lie on the side. Choose to lie on your left side as this will increase the amount of nutrients and blood transported via your placenta to the baby. Sleeping on your side can also counteract heartburn. Avoid sleeping on your back unless your doctor tells you otherwise. It is obviously not comfortable to sleep on your stomach.

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Place a pillow between your legs. Many pregnant women find it comfortable to sleep with a pillow between their legs during the last stages of pregnancy.

Pregnancy Pillow

Consider a body or pregnancy pillow. It provides good support for your body and helps many pregnant women find a more comfortable sleeping position. These types of pillows help take pressure off your lower back.

Pay attention to the diet. Eat foods and drinks that can help promote sleep. A warm glass of milk can also help you relax.

Finally, try relaxation techniques. If your mind is preoccupied with myriad thoughts about your upcoming birth, it's a good idea to consider relaxation techniques; this could involve writing in a sleep book, doing yoga, doing deep breathing or enjoying a pregnancy massage.

Rest in bed

Rest may be considered on the recommendation of your obstetrician, midwife or doctor, and it can take place in a good elevation bed or similar. If your doctor has prescribed rest for the benefit of you and your baby, she will usually instruct you on what positions to rest in.

She will tell you about the level of bed support required depending on your condition. If you are forced into a continuous bed rest, you cannot leave the bed and you need care.

Doctors often prescribe bed rest to reduce pregnancy complications, including placenta previa, pregnancy-induced hypertension, intrauterine growth retardation or chronic health problems. These restrictions on your activities affect your ability to work, to care for yourself, your family and follow your usual routines.

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But with the right bed, it's very beneficial for baby's development and prevents pregnancy complications.

This applies to all pregnant women, not just those who are expected to give birth with complications.