How to Sleep during First Trimester of Pregnancy

Being pregnant is a wonderful experience and one to be cherished forever. However, it is also a time when your body goes through a lot of physical changes. This can lead to a few discomforts and changes in your sleep patterns. If you have been pregnant before, you might have experienced this already. But the changes may not be the same this time around. You might be experiencing a whole new range of emotions and physical changes the second time around. Here are some reasons why sleeplessness happens and how you can get a good night’s rest during the first trimester of your pregnancy.

Sleeplessness during First Trimester Pregnancy

Studies have shown that women experience the most sleep difficulties during pregnancy. Early pregnancy symptoms are often the culprit and understanding these can help you manage your sleep better. Some reasons why your sleep patterns change are:

1. Drowsiness

This is one pregnancy symptom that shows up early on in your pregnancy. Higher levels of progesterone in your body during pregnancy can cause you to feel sleepy all-day long. Though the duration of your sleep might increase, the quality of sleep during the first trimester is likely to decline as you keep waking up frequently.

2. Physical Discomfort

It can be difficult to sleep well if your breasts are tender and sore or you have pelvic cramping. Also, if sleeping on the tummy has been your favourite sleep position all this time, you may find it difficult to sleep that way once you are pregnant.

3. Need to Urinate

The changes in progesterone levels and your expanding uterus can put pressure on your bladder leading to an increased urge to urinate. This can cause you to wake up often at night, interrupting your sleep.

4. Morning Sickness

Though known as morning sickness, nausea can strike during any time of the day or night.

5. Heartburn

Progesterone is again the reason you get heartburn more often in pregnancy. Heartburn is a typical burning sensation you get in your chest and/or throat, like your ‘heart were burning’. Since progesterone relaxes the muscles of the esophagus, stomach contents can flow back leading to indigestion which, in turn, can disrupt your sleep.

6. Anxiety

It is understandable that you are anxious during pregnancy given all the changes that you are going through, especially if it is your first time. Adjusting to the physical and emotional changes can be overwhelming and have an impact on your sleep habits.

Finest Sleeping Positions in the First Trimester

It might at first seem that there is no comfortable sleeping position possible during the early months of your pregnancy. Sleeping on the back and the tummy both become difficult as your pregnancy progresses. So, if these were the only two positions you like, it is time to change your preferences. You can try one of the following sleeping positions during early pregnancy to ensure a full night of relaxing sleep:

1. Sleeping on Side (SOS)

Sleeping on your side, right or left, is considered safe and comfortable at all stages of your pregnancy. It is best to alternate between the sides and not sleep for a long time on one side, especially the right (since sleeping on your right side can worsen heartburns).

2. Sleeping on Back

While this may not be one of the best sleeping positions during pregnancy, lying on your back initially works during pregnancy. For the first 3 months, it might feel comfortable. As your bump grows, however, it can put pressure on your back, the intestines and vena cava, disrupting the flow of blood from the lower body to the heart. Sleeping on your back for long periods during pregnancy can lead to backaches, haemorrhoids and low blood pressure. Hence it would be best to try and avoid this position, even though it may be a good sleeping position during early pregnancy. Best to try and get out of this habit early on during your pregnancy.

3. Sleeping on The Left Side

The best option is to sleep on your side, especially the left, irrespective of what stage of pregnancy you are at. This helps ensure maximum flow of blood and nutrients to the placenta while improving kidney function.

With this, you can also keep swelling at bay. During pregnancy, swelling often occurs in hand, feet or ankles.

4. Cushion Up

If you have tried all these different sleeping positions but are not yet truly comfortable, it might be time to turn to cushions.

  • Lie on your side with your legs bent and place a cushion between your knees. You can also prop up your tummy with a pillow at the same time and see if that works for you.
  • Place a pillow or cushion behind your back as you sleep on your side. This prevents you from rolling onto your back at any time.
  • If you experience breathing difficulties while trying to sleep, use a pillow placed under your side to raise your chest and ease your breathing.
  • Use a few cushions strategically at various points till you find a position that best suits you.
  • Getting a special wedge pillow or body pillow or sleeping in a semi-reclined position also work for some women.

Will Lack of Sleep Harm My Baby?

Sleep problems are quite common during pregnancy and do not cause any harm to the baby. However, sleeplessness can prove exhausting and leave you fatigued and drowsy all the time. Lack of sleep can lead you to develop problems such as pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure. It can also be a harbinger of problems like gestational diabetes and pulmonary hypertension. Lack of sleep can also have an impact on the duration of labour and the type of delivery you eventually have. So, it is important to rest and take short naps whenever you feel tired or overworked during your pregnancy.

Sleep Aids during Pregnancy

There are some simple and safe sleep aids that you can use to ensure that you get the sleep you need during the crucial first trimester of your pregnancy. Getting adequate sleep is essential to your well-being so that you have a trouble-free and easy delivery.

1. Set Up a Schedule

Make a sleep timetable. Yes, you read that right! Plan your naps for some time between 2 and 4 in the afternoon and no later to ensure you can sleep well at night. It could even be two short cat naps instead of one long nap.

2. Forget the Bed

There is no rule that you must catch your forty winks on your bed. Find a comfortable armchair or a couch that feels comfortable and doze off. Even that cosy rocking chair on the porch might be a good idea for a quick round of shut-eye.

3. Beat the Heartburn

Eat at least two hours before your bedtime to let your meal settle down a bit. When sleeping, be sure to elevate your head a bit with an extra pillow and not to lay flat. If you think you can feel hungry late at night, have a warm glass of milk and something bland to eat just a while before you start preparing for bed.

4. Cut Down on Liquids at Bedtime

Pregnancy can cause you to urinate more often, especially during the night. So, try to limit of the quantity fluids you consume a couple of hours before your bedtime. But be sure to stay hydrated all day long by drinking water, juice and milk at regular intervals.

5. Fight the Nausea

If your morning sickness hits at odd hours and keeps you up nights too, it is time to tackle it head on. Keep some salty biscuits or crackers handy on your bedside table. Also, try and eat six small meals through the day instead of three big ones.

6. Get Comfortable

Use as many pillows and cushions as you want to make yourself comfortable before you fall asleep. Body length pillows or special pillows that offer support to the belly and back can prove extremely helpful at all stages of your pregnancy.

7. Learn to Relax

When it is bedtime, push all your worries and undone tasks away from your mind and focus on getting rest. If the prospect of giving birth is what scares you, talk to someone about it or write it all down in a diary. Steer clear of sugar and caffeine from the evening and do something soothing for some time before you head for your bed. Serene music, a soothing shower or a cup of warm milk can do the trick.

Solutions To Good Sleep during First Trimester

Relaxation techniques and moderate exercise can be helpful in promoting good sleep habits during pregnancy. These can help loosen up your body and muscles while soothing your mind.

1. Yoga

If you have not been doing yoga before your pregnancy, enrol for a class intended for pregnant women and where you get personalised attention. The neck, shoulders, back, waist and calves should be the primary areas of focus. This can also help your body stay flexible during the delivery.

2. Meditation

Deep breathing and meditation can calm down your soothed nerves while stabilising heart rate and easing muscle stress. This also helps promote good sleep at night

3. Massage

Getting your hands and feet massaged is a great way to ease the stress and discomfort. If your doctor says yes, get a professional prenatal massage appointment set up.

4. Channel Your Thoughts

As you ready yourself for bed, visualise a beautiful scene in your mind. From a tranquil lake to a meadow of flowers, think of something pleasant and appealing. Imagine every little detail about the place to distract your mind from worries and stressful thoughts. This can lull your mind into peaceful sleep at night.

5. Exercise

Do not give up completely on your exercise regimen simply because you are pregnant. In fact, moderate exercise has been proven to be effective in promoting good sleep each night. Exercising too close to your bedtime is not advised. Day time and the early evening are best times to exercise.

Worst Sleeping Positions during the First Trimester

It is best to adopt a safe and comfortable sleeping position right at the start of your pregnancy rather than waiting till you are further on. Besides avoiding back pain and body aches, this also helps you keep away issues such as low blood pressure and digestion problems. Here is a list of bad sleeping positions during pregnancy which must be avoided throughout:

1. On Your Tummy

Sleeping on the stomach while pregnant is to be avoided at all costs. It is considered the worst sleeping position during pregnancy. It can lead to lower back pain while straining the muscles of your neck too. As your tummy starts to grow, laying on it may not be a really good idea. This can also cause the blood flow to the foetus being cut off not to mention the dizziness and nausea that will accompany it.

2. On Your Back

Sleeping on your back during pregnancy is an open invitation to aches and pains. As the uterus grows, it pushes on to cause a scarcity of oxygen to the foetus. It can also impair the digestive function besides leading to low blood pressure or poor circulation. This manifests as dizziness when you suddenly stand up from a sitting or lying down position. Sleeping on your back can also lead to blocking of the vena cava which carries blood back to the heart from the lower extremities. Sleep apnea and snoring can also show up when in a supine position.

How Much Sleep Do I Need in Early Stage of Pregnancy?

Though the normal sleep requirement for adults is anywhere between 7 to 10 hours, during pregnancy, this is likely to go up because your body is going through a major change. Excitements, surprises, discomfort and pain are all a part of being pregnant and can also keep you up at night. There are no hard and fast rules about this, but it is best to sleep whenever your body tells you to. The number of hours varies from woman to woman because each one is a different individual.

If you have been pregnant before, you know how tired and fatigued you can feel during pregnancy. Be sure to catch up on some extra sleep to compensate for all this. Around nine hours of sleep might be considered normal for a pregnant woman to stay healthy and have a delivery that is free of complications. Whether it is first pregnancy or second, adequate sleep is a must for all, especially during the different stages of pregnancy.

Follow these tips but remember: do not to panic if you wake up and find yourself in one of the less desirable sleeping positions that are to be avoided. Your body can find comfortable positions as you sleep. Remember to catch up on your beauty sleep whenever you can during your pregnancy because once the baby gets here, sleepless nights are the norm!

Also Read:

Sleeping Problems during Pregnancy
Sleeping on Back during Pregnancy
Sleeping on Stomach during Pregnancy