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Expecting a child is one of the most exciting times in a mother’s life. It is nine magical months of curiosity, amazement, and preparation, and for most moms, it is a time that is also plagued by waves of sleep deprivation and fatigue. Pregnancy affects a person’s circadian rhythms in numerous ways, but many new mothers fail to prepare for that part of the process.
It is nearly impossible to get around the fact that your sleep will become affected by pregnancy. According to a study conducted back in 1998 by the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 80% of all expectant women experience some sort of sleep disturbance. In fact, there are some ladies out there who lose rest simply because they’re worried about the pains of labor and delivery. Either way, your sleep will never be the same once you become a mother.
The Top 10 Ways Pregnancy Changes Your Nighttime Routine
Understanding how pregnancy affects your sleep is the first step towards becoming prepared for the lengthy and anxiety-ridden gestation period.
While your sleep will be negatively impacted in some way during pregnancy (it's unavoidable), we highly recommend you reduce the discomfort with a pregnancy pillow. Click here to read our full review guide.
According to the most recent information, most expectant mothers experience a disruption in their sleep patterns because of one or more of the following prenatal side effects:
- Hormone Imbalances – The body expels increased amounts of progesterone during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. This often causes daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and drowsiness.
- Physical Discomfort – As the baby grows inside the womb, the mother’s body begins to expand and adjust, causing general physical discomfort all over the body that only increases with time.
- Nausea and/or Vomiting – Expectant mothers can look forward to bouts of morning sickness throughout their pregnancy, a hormonal side effect that might disrupt sleep patterns over time.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – Known more commonly as heartburn, research shows that almost a quarter of all pregnant women suffer from this ailment – sometimes during all three trimesters.
- Unceasing Fetal Movement – Developing babies become more active as they get closer to birth, which makes sleeping comfortably during the final trimester a difficult endeavor.
- Sleep Apnea – Hormonal changes can also affect the muscles of the body, causing some women to develop gestational sleep apnea. NOTE: This is most common among obese mothers.
- Increased Urination – A growing baby will put increasing pressure on your internal organs, including but not limited to your bladder and intestines.
- Anxiety and/or Depression – There are numerous reasons for an expectant mother to experience anxiety, depression, or uncontrollable emotional turmoil. Becoming a mother is a very big deal, so dealing with the changes that are about to be made can overwhelm some moms.
- Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) – Studies show that about 15% of all pregnant women feel an uncomfortable tingling in their legs, especially during the third trimester. This is due to a combination of hormonal changes and increased nerve pressure. Fortunately, it tends to go away after delivery.
- Pregnancy Complications – Unhealthy or risky pregnancies can cause the expectant mother to experience sleep disturbances due to pelvic pain, swelling, bleeding, and/or hospital visits because of complications such as gestational hypertension or preeclampsia.
Getting Enough Sleep during Your Pregnancy
New mothers will sometimes find it difficult to eat, cope with emotions, perform at work, and/or rest properly before and after the baby is born. As many seasoned moms already know, this is just par for the pregnancy and parenting course. However, precautions must still be made to ensure mom remains as relaxed as possible until she gives birth.
The importance of this rest requirement is well-documented. Scientists at the University of California have concluded that pregnant mothers who receive less than 6 hours of sleep per night typically experience more painful labor, and sometimes deprivation can result in the need for a cesarean delivery.
In other words, prepare yourself to fight for rest and talk to your doctor if you’re having any trouble.
Author: Jill Thompson
I've been self-employed for almost four years and I would not change it for anything! I believe that anyone can achieve their goals with the right attitude and determination.
I'm an avid traveler (25+ countries and counting) that loves to meet new people doing amazing things.
When I'm not researching for the Sleep Advisor, you can find me reading, running, traveling, golfing, or meditating.
I wish you the very best on your journey!