Why are pregnant women more prone to insomnia? How to get to sleep and when to worry? Update on insomnia during pregnancy with midwife Rachel Hall.
"Insomnia can occur as early as the first trimester for some women and disappear, or last throughout, there are no real periods," observes midwife Rachel Hall. However, she notes that future mothers generally suffer from it rather towards the end of the pregnancy because the baby is moving, the woman is more tired, cannot find her position, her belly is heavier, etc. However, "there are women who, from the very beginning of pregnancy, know that they are pregnant because they are losing sleep, are woken up at 3 a.m. every night without a sleep. logical explanations, it's simply hormonal,” she notes.
Insomnia during pregnancy is very common. Moreover, a pregnant woman can suffer from insomnia during one pregnancy and not during the following one. However, two types of insomnia should be distinguished:
The so-called physiological insomnia
They are linked to pregnancy and of hormonal origin. "It's a normal phenomenon" reassures Rachel Hall "even if it is not necessarily easy and obvious for future mothers to live with insomnia". These physiological ailments of pregnancy could even help prepare mothers for the future rhythm they will have during the birth of their baby since, as the midwife explains, "these insomnias create a state of hyper vigilance which prepares them for nocturnal awakenings that they will have to live ".
Insomnia caused by the anxiety of childbirth
These are more worrying. As the pregnancy progresses, the pregnant woman becomes more psychologically fragile, vulnerable. Anxiety can then rise to the surface and result in insomnia. Some future mothers fear childbirth and motherhood to the point of not closing their eyes. In this case, Rachel Hall considers it important "to establish psychological care, a space of speech where the woman will be able to exteriorize, evacuate her anxieties".
"Hunger is not a reason for insomnia during pregnancy", assures the midwife. On the other hand, even if it is difficult to fall asleep again, it is better not to succumb to nighttime cravings, at the risk of getting used to them and then waking up the other nights to go nibble. Likewise, in the evening, she advises to favor a light meal, not too late for a better digestion often going hand in hand with a good sleep. Maintaining physical activity, especially after meals to facilitate digestion, is also recommended.
Among the causes that can prevent mothers-to-be from sleeping well, back pain or ligament pain are often singled out. Two ailments also typical of pregnancy. It is then necessary to treat them in order to relieve the pregnant woman and help her sleep better.
Pregnancy and insomnia: reflux involved?
If nausea is frequent in early pregnancy, "it rarely occurs at night," explains Rachel Hall. On the other hand, one can suffer from nocturnal reflux which prevents sleep. Treatments can then be administered to relieve these gastroesophageal refluxes.
During pregnancy follow-up visits, the midwife or the obstetrician-gynecologist always asks the mother-to-be about her sleep. The reason? "If the patient does not sleep well at night and she has to work 12 hours a day, be very efficient during the day, it will be complicated for her", notes the midwife. These risks creating a vicious circle by fueling their anxieties and stress even more and impacting their sleep. In addition, Rachel Hall believes that our often-hectic pace of life is not suitable for pregnant women: "we live in a society where pregnant women remain very active, work a lot, sometimes have other children to manage. is not always adapted to the rhythm of the pregnant woman who needs calmer days ". Some pregnant women can then feel very quickly overwhelmed, in burn-out. In this case, she explains, "a work stoppage can be proposed to the mother-to-be so that she can rest and recover".
Should you take a nap during the day in case of insomnia?
If the pregnant woman can rest a little during the day or if she does not have a busy job, suffering from insomnia at night is not very serious. Moreover, she reassures "taking a nap during the day does not particularly impact sleep. On the contrary, sleep calls for sleep, so taking a nap can help to relax and sleep better at night". Especially since the pregnant woman, especially the first three months of pregnancy, needs more sleep, she is in a state of hypersomnia. A little nap is then welcome.
There are also several gentle alternative methods that can help you relax and sleep better during pregnancy: prenatal yoga, sophrology, hypnosis, acupuncture or even homeopathy. It's up to you to see which practice suits you best.
Insomnia during pregnancy: psychological care
Finally, if nothing works and you feel distressed due to lack of sleep, your doctor, midwife or gynecologist can refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist so that he can identify the origin of this insomnia and establish, possibly medical treatment. The idea: to break the established rhythm and that the future mother finds a good sleep before the birth of the baby.
Suffering from significant insomnia during pregnancy and letting it settle in without reacting can sometimes have consequences after pregnancy. Indeed, accumulating a lack of sleep can promote postpartum depression. However, notes the midwife "for some, childbirth will on the contrary free them". Indeed, the confrontation with the real baby and the past childbirth frees them from a burden. Finally, she weighs "if untreated insomnia is not necessarily going to have somatic consequences, the more the woman feels good in her head and in her body, the more the pregnancy will develop in a harmonious way". However, the better we sleep and the less stress we are.