Guest author: Jenny Silverstone
Have you been feeling exhausted and sluggish during your pregnancy so far? Is it so bad you’re wondering how you’ll ever survive the second and third trimesters?
I felt like a zombie during the first few weeks of pregnancy. Before I was pregnant, I was a hardcore caffeine fanatic. But when I found out I was pregnant, I cut way, way back on that.
The lack of caffeine, coupled with the natural exhaustion of pregnancy, got to me quickly.
So I did what I do best — I researched the problem until I came up with some workable solutions. Although I still missed caffeine, I was able to function and feel fine throughout the rest of my pregnancy. And you’ll deal with it fine with these tips I found too.
Why It Matters
Everyone needs sleep — without it, our moods, concentration, and health all plummet. But when you’re pregnant, you need your rest more than ever. You’re growing a new life inside you and that’s physically and emotionally draining.
But when you’re sleeping for two, does that mean you actually need twice as much as sleep as usual? How would you ever get anything done?
Some professionals recommend women get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night during pregnancy. Even then, some women won’t feel like this is nearly enough.
A study has shown moms who were pregnant with their first child and who slept less than 6 hours a night had a risk 4.5 times higher of having a C-section when compared with women who slept 7 hours or more (source). The women who slept less also had longer labors.
Higher levels of sleep while pregnant helps fight system-wide inflammation in the body. That inflammation is believed to be the cause for undesirable pregnancy events like preterm delivery and postpartum depression (source).
Pregnancy can hurt your sleep in multiple ways.
- Worries can keep you up at night.
- Morning sickness can make you miss out on shut-eye.
- The frequent urge to pee can interrupt sleep.
- It can be difficult to find a comfortable position.
- In later pregnancy, back and pelvic pain can keep you up.
- You might wake yourself up by snoring because some women begin to snore during pregnancy because of weight gain.
The Benefits of Sleep and Rest During Pregnancy
Although it can be a challenge getting good sleep while pregnant, the benefits are big if you can manage it. Here are some of the benefits you’ll see:
It can reduce stress:
You’re going to have stress in spades as an expectant mother. You’re going to have a lot to juggle — aches, worries, doctor’s appointments, preparing for your baby and more. Sleep will help you relax and feel calmer.
- Moms who had less sleep when they were pregnant — both in terms of quality and quantity — tended to have babies with lower birth weights. While you don’t want to set a world’s record for the heaviest baby, you also want to make sure it’s at a healthy weight.
It may help you obtain a full-term delivery:
When a woman isn’t getting enough sleep, she tends to have increased inflammatory responses that can lead to preterm birth. Making sleep a priority can be enough to calm or avoid that inflammatory response to begin with.
You’ll have less depression:
The link between lack of sleep and insomnia is strong — whether you’re pregnant or not (source). But add your changing lifestyle and body to the concerns about your baby’s health and depression can easily creep in if you’re feeling overtired.
A healthier immune system:
A good night’s sleep can give your immune system a boost. That can help moms-to-be fight off any viruses or bacteria they are exposed to (source). The ability to fight off illnesses is going to keep both you and your baby healthier during your pregnancy.
You’ll have less pressure on your cervix:
During pregnancy, the cervix stays closed so your baby stays in. Relaxing and resting will help your cervix stay in place.
There will be better circulation of blood to the uterus:
More blood to the uterus means a better supply of oxygen and nutrients to your baby.
It helps fight high blood pressure:
High blood pressure can strike during any pregnancy, and because the consequences can be severe, you have to take it seriously. One of the most common orders a doctor will give a woman who has high blood pressure is bed rest. That’s because resting helps ease the pressure from the heart.
You’ll have more energy:
You’ll likely feel tired during pregnancy — it’s bound to happen at some point. But you don’t have to feel exhausted for the full nine months. With enough sleep you might find, especially during the second trimester, that you feel downright energetic.
It may help keep placenta previa at bay:
Placenta previa is when the placenta blocks part of the uterus, which is a dangerous situation for both a mother and her baby (source). To combat this condition, your doctor will order plenty of rest for you.
How Does Good Sleep During Pregnancy Affect Childbirth?
Childbirth is the one part of having a baby that every mother would gladly pass on. While it’s wonderful to feel our babies kicking in our bellies, labor pains are much less welcome.
But moms who make great sleep a priority during pregnancy will also find it can help the childbirth process as well.
Moms who are well rested going into the delivery room will have a greater pain tolerance (source). They also tend to have quicker labors, which moms everywhere should welcome with open arms.
In addition, they’ll have greater concentration to focus on anything that goes wrong in case they have to make a big decision quickly.
Jenny Silverstone is the mother of two and has been deeply passionate about writing for just about as long as she can remember. Jenny is currently the main author at Mom Loves Best where she shares in depth guides and resources to help new parents better protect, care for, and enjoy their bundles of joy. When not tapping away furiously on her laptop keyboard, she enjoys camping and spending time outdoors with her family.