Insomnia during pregnancy: how to fix it?

Sleep and pregnancy: Why can’t a pregnant woman sleep?

Sleep disorders concern a large majority of pregnant women. According to a retrospective study conducted in 2011 (1) more than 79% of women complain of sleep disturbances during pregnancy. More specifically, they would be 75.1% to suffer in early pregnancy versus 93.3% in the third quarter.
So what is the difference between insomnia at the start of pregnancy and that at the end of pregnancy?

First trimester insomnia: why do we have insomnia in early pregnancy?

Sleep disturbances are among the first symptoms of pregnancy. At this stage, the body has not yet had time to change, and insomnia is therefore not due to a too bulky belly. On the other hand, the hormonal changes are important, and can affect the quality of sleep!

Dr. Dahan-Saal, obstetrician-gynecologist: At the start of pregnancy, the woman’s body is impregnated with a hormone widely secreted from the first days following fertilization: progesterone. This hormone is the one responsible for the great fatigue felt by pregnant women during the first trimester of pregnancy, and which contributes to disrupting the sleep/wake rhythm.

“The mother-to-be is a victim of sleepiness during the dayand struggling to sleep at night come” summarizes obstetrician-gynecologist.
Digestive disorders, such as nausea in the evening, vomiting and stomach upset, as well as frequent urges to urinate, can also disturb the nights of the future mother.

Insomnia at 7 months: why insomnia at the end of pregnancy?

After a period of calm during the second trimester – also called “honeymoon” because the form returns and the symptoms diminish – the insomnia starts again from the third trimester of pregnancy.
“The belly is more and more voluminousthe mother-to-be often has Back acheshe struggles to find a comfortable position to sleep, the acid reflux are legion and the very frequent urination because of the uterus which compresses the bladder” enumerates the gynecologist.

Women accustomed to sleep on your stomach will struggle to find a comfortable position, as will those who only sleep on their backs. “The position lying on the back is difficult at the end of pregnancy, because the weight of the baby causes the superior vena cava compressionhindering venous return” describes the gynecologist.

From 7 months of pregnancy, the baby takes up a lot of space in the uterus and tends to be very fidgety. His incessant movements can also prevent mum from falling asleep.

Finally, a few weeks before thechildbirth and the big meeting, the mother-to-be can be as impatient to meet her baby asanxious and stressed. It is therefore common that the questions and worries come crashing down at bedtime or during the night during nocturnal awakenings, maintaining the mum-to-be sleep disorders.

How to fight against insomnia and sleep well during pregnancy?

Before considering a possible drug treatment, some simple rules and common sense can be put in place to regain regular and restorative sleep.

Dr. Dahan-Saal: The first thing I advise my patients is to have sufficient physical activity during the day, provided that it is not contraindicated of course.

Besides the fact that it is recommended for general health, the practice of a sport or physical activity during the day will allow the body to find a sleep-wake rhythmand release relaxation and well-being hormones such as as dopamine or serotonin, promoting sleep. Prenatal yoga and swimming are especially recommended.
“Most pregnant women, even in good health, tend to rest and limit their sports practice, to spare themselves: it’s a bad idea” regrets the specialist, who recalls that the more active they are during the day, the better the quality of their sleep will be.

At night, the most comfortable position for the mother-to-be is lying on her left side, in order to free the vena cava and promote good circulation of blood from the legs to the heart. The use of a nursing pillow is highly recommended : it allows the pregnant woman to find a comfortable position, lightening the weight of the belly and releasing tension and pressure points.

Finally, to limit insomnia during pregnancy, all the recommendations onsleep hygiene are good to take: limit stimulants (coffee, tea, caffeine, etc.), avoid screens in the evening after dinner, light dinner, create a soft atmosphere with dimmed lights conducive to falling asleep, practice relaxation and/or meditation, keeping regular bedtimes and wake-up times, etc.

Sleeping pills, homeopathy, acupuncture, medication: what treatment to take during pregnancy?

Despite applying all the advice above, insomnia persists? It may be necessary to find additional help to finally be able to rest in anticipation of the arrival of the baby.
“It is important to take the patient as a whole, in order to offer her first of all, all the means of acting, complementary to medicine” insists the gynecologist.

These ailments, which do not necessarily have an obvious allopathic treatment, can be relieved by alternative approaches, as long as the woman is receptive to them.

L’acupuncture for example, gives very good results in some women, as well as I’hypnosissophrology, aromatherapy with certain plants or essential oils or even thehomeopathy.

It is only in case of failure of any other treatment that medication can be considered. “Some drugs are compatible with pregnancy, but we always try to find gentler solutions first,” explains Dr. Dahan-Saal. “In case ofsevere insomnia, they should not be demonizedbecause it is important to relieve the future mother who lacks sleep”, he adds.
Benzodiazepines and antihistamines are especially safe for the baby when taken on an ad hoc basis. However, they must be prescribed by the doctor.

Leave a Comment