Sleep in pregnancy
During pregnancy, the quality of sleep undergoes transformations that depend on multiple factors, the most common being physiological overweight and the presence of any sleep apnea, non-habitual position, the need to go to the bathroom more often, back pain. In addition to keeping nutrition under control with an adequate diet for weight control and eating healthy food from a nutritional point of view, it is important to know what happens inside our body and the reasons why sleep changes according to the month of pregnancy.
How sleep changes in the three trimesters of pregnancy
The first quarter
The first trimester is a delicate period dominated by an increase in tiredness and the need to sleep more than usual and it is often a requirement even during the day. This is a physiological phenomenon given by an increased level of progesterone, the hormone that acts on the brain and "trains" the expectant mother for her future life focused on taking care of the newborn in an optimal way. For example, the sense of smell becomes more sensitive, it almost becomes like an alarm system that nature makes available to the mother to avoid potential dangers to her health and that of her baby, such as recognizing spoiled or potentially toxic foods or polluted and unhealthy environments. Hearing also becomes more attentive to high-pitched sounds and therefore to the crying of the baby and the ability to recognize over time what each different type of cry will be linked to: hunger, need to change diaper, colic, etc…
To deal with these and other changes, the body needs to sleep more and it is good to indulge it without depriving yourself of sleep for the psycho-physical well-being of this period which, moreover, is the most suitable for resting on the stomach again for women who like to sleep in this position.
The second quarter
The second trimester is the most peaceful of the whole pregnancy because the body has settled down, the nauseas have passed and all that tiredness has also vanished. Endorphins come into action which raise the pain threshold and determine a general global well-being. Drowsiness is reduced and blood pressure is also regularized compared to the first trimester where it is often low. Psychologically, the fear of a possible miscarriage has passed, the fetus continues to develop and we also begin to enjoy the baby bump which is starting to get noticed. Female hormones increase so that the skin of the face becomes brighter, rosy, the hair more full-bodied and luminous and the décolleté begins to become more prosperous than normal.
In this period sleep is regular, restorative and the only disturbance could be to feel the need to go to the bathroom at night to pee; this is because the kidneys work more than usual since the uterus pressing on the bladder actually reduces its size and therefore it fills up faster than normal. This is the right trimester to start getting used to sleeping on your left side, the best position suggested by specialists to facilitate blood circulation for both mother and baby. The fetus in particular in this position is better supplied with blood and the oxygenation of all tissues is better.
The third quarter
The third trimester of pregnancy could instead be at risk of lighter sleep or disturbed by numerous awakenings caused by different situations of the period: back pain , the belly which has obviously grown and therefore it is more difficult to find a relaxing position lying in bed, the need to pee has increased even more. Other more important but fortunately rarer disorders can be gastroesophageal reflux , obstructive apnea and in some cases - only in 30% of pregnant mothers - the annoying restless legs syndrome could occur with the sensation of having to move continuously. In the latter situations, the advice is to talk to your trusted gynecologist who will be able to give an adequate diagnosis of the situation and possibly proceed with more in-depth tests to verify a risk of diabetes or a state of gestational hypertension , for example.
Sleeping well during pregnancy is important for childbirth, postpartum and breastfeeding
Starting from the fifth month of pregnancy, a simple trick to ensure peaceful sleep is to use, for example, a pillow between the knees that allows you to maintain a parallel position of the legs and unload the spine. Today there are specific pregnancy pillows on the market and it is worth investing some time in finding out about the model that can best support all the parts of the body involved in the natural transformation of the body in this phase.
Other useful measures to prevent and treat sleep disorders involve lifestyle and are easily applicable such as, for example, doing some movement such as walking 30-45 minutes every day. A walk in the park is healthy as it allows you to fill up with oxygen-laden air and to stock up on vitamin D given by sunlight; if then the walk is in the company of a partner or a friend, the mood is affected in an even more positive way. Even if it is not possible to walk in the greenery, a simple walk in the center is useful to keep the body moving.
As far as nutrition is concerned, it is better to eat fish or meat for lunch to help digestion which in this case is more laborious and to prefer cereals and legumes with rice or pasta in small quantities for the evening. Keep the weight under control which, to be in line, will have to increase 1kg per month in the first trimester, 1-2kg. in the second trimester and 1.5kg in the third trimester
Before going to bed in the evening, doing some relaxing yoga exercises or autogenic relaxation training helps prepare the body for a peaceful rest or listening to relaxing music such as natural noises such as rain or the sound of the sea can create a truly calming effect.
The quality of sleep during pregnancy is very important because when it is inadequate it increases the risk of postpartum depression, also called baby blues, also interfering in the creation of a good mother-child relationship.
Considering that in the last trimester we are also preparing for the effort of childbirth, arriving rested for the most important day of a mother's life will allow us to face everything in a more tonic and present way, preparing the body even for a faster recovery and then being able to experience the magical period of breastfeeding better.