During pregnancy, the quality of sleep undergoes changes that depend on many factors, the most common of which are physiological overweight and the presence of any sleep apnea, the unaccustomed position, the need to go to the bathroom more often, back pain.
In addition to keeping your diet under control with a proper diet for weight control and eating nutritionally healthy foods, it is important to know what is going on inside our bodies and the reasons why sleep changes depending on the month of gestation.
Analysing pregnancy by trimester, we know that the first is a delicate period dominated by an increase in tiredness and the need to sleep more than usual, 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 future 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 becomes almost like an alarm system that nature puts at the mother's disposal to avoid potential dangers to her health and that of her baby, such as recognizing bad or potentially toxic food or polluted and unhealthy environments. Even the hearing becomes more attentive to high-pitched sounds and then to the baby's crying and the ability to recognize over time what will be related to each different type of crying: hunger, need for diaper change, colic, etc. ...
To deal with these and other changes, the body needs more sleep and it is good to go along with it without depriving oneself of sleep for the psycho-physical wellbeing of this period, which is also the most suitable for resting on one's stomach for women who love to sleep in this position.
The second trimester is the quietest of the whole pregnancy; the body has settled down, the nausea has passed and even all that tiredness has vanished. Endorphins come into action, raising the pain threshold and determining a general global well-being. Drowsiness is reduced and even blood pressure is regularised compared to the first trimester when it was often low. Psychologically, the fear of a possible miscarriage has passed, the foetus continues to develop and you begin to enjoy the baby bump that is beginning to show. The female hormones increase so that the skin on the face becomes brighter, pinker, the hair becomes fuller and brighter and the décolleté begins to become more prosperous than normal.
In this period sleep is regular and restful and the only disturbance could be that of feeling the need to go to the bathroom at night to pee; this is because the kidneys work more than usual because the uterus presses on the bladder and therefore reduces its size and 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 is better supplied with blood in this position and the oxygenation of all the tissues is better.
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 baby bump that 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 gastro-oesophageal reflux, obstructive sleep apnoea and in some cases - in only 30% of pregnant mothers - the annoying restless legs syndrome with the sensation of having to move continuously. In these latter situations the advice is to talk to your gynaecologist who will be able to give you a diagnosis that is adequate for the situation and possibly proceed with more in-depth examinations to check for a risk of diabetes or a state of gestational hypertension, for example.
In all other cases, a simple trick to ensure a peaceful sleep is to use, for example, a pillow between the knees that allows you to maintain a parallel position of the legs and relieve the spine. Today, there are specific pillows for pregnancy on the market and it is worth investing a little time in finding out to choose the model that best supports all the parts of the body involved in the natural transformation of the physique during this phase.
Other useful tricks to prevent and treat sleep disorders involve lifestyle and are easily applicable as for example doing some exercise with walking 30-45 minutes every day. A walk in the park is healthy because it allows you to fill the air full of oxygen and to stock up on vitamin D given by the sunlight, and if 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 green, a simple walk in the centre is useful to keep the body in movement.
As far as food is concerned, it is better to eat fish or meat at lunchtime to help digestion, which in this case is more laborious, and to prefer cereals and legumes with rice or pasta in small quantities in the evening. Keep your weight under control: to be in line, you will need to gain 1kg per month in the first trimester, 1.2kg in the second trimester and 1.5kg in the third trimester,
Before going to bed at night, doing some relaxing yoga exercises or autogenic relaxation training will help prepare your body for a peaceful rest, or listening to soothing music such as natural sounds like rain or the sound of the sea will create a truly calming effect.
The quality of sleep in pregnancy is very important because when it is inadequate it increases the risk of postnatal depression, also called baby blues, interfering also in the creation of a good mother-child relationship.
Considering that in the last trimester you are also preparing for the effort of childbirth, arriving well rested on the most important day of a mother's life will allow you to face it all in a more toned and present way, preparing your body for a faster recovery and then being able to live the magical period of breastfeeding better.