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Insomnia, Fatigue and Breathlessness

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 18 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
Insomnia Insomnia Breathless

During pregnancy you may well find yourself with various symptoms that you never normally get. It can be worrying but most will only be with you for the duration of your pregnancy and will cease when you’ve had your baby. Many people suffer from insomnia, fatigue and breathlessness – here’s why.


Even if you’ve never had a problem sleeping before and could happily nod off as soon as your head hits the pillow, you could get afflicted with insomnia when you’re pregnant. It’s hard not to get frustrated when your usual sleeping habits abandon you, but being anxious, restless and annoyed at your lack of sleep isn’t going to cure it.

It can be a relief to know that sometimes insomnia can put down to the other new symptoms you’re experiencing, so it’s not something wrong with you. For example, you may be finding it difficult to get into comfortable positions with your growing bump, needing to get up more frequently in the night to go to the toilet or just feeling emotional or excited about the impending arrival of your baby. Many of these symptoms can worsen during the third trimester.

The best thing you can do if you’ve got insomnia is remain calm. Stop looking at the clock obsessively and definitely don’t count the minutes or hours you’ve been awake, and don’t get worried by the fact that you can’t sleep. Getting yourself as relaxed as possible before bedtime can help. For example, you could have a warm bath, enjoy a massage from your partner, or try a doing relaxation or guided visualisation exercises to relax your mind as well as your body.

Little changes to your sleeping environment are worth considering too. Perhaps the room seems too light and you could do with thicker curtains, or maybe the temperature doesn’t suit you. There aren’t always easy or quick solutions for everyone, and if you’ve been in bed for a while and still can’t sleep, don’t feel you’ve got to stay there. Sometimes getting up and doing something completely different, then returning to bed, may help. If the problem continues and you’re really concerned, always go and see your doctor.


When you’re carrying around a growing baby inside of you, gaining extra weight and experiencing lots of new, exciting and scary symptoms, it’s no wonder you’ll find yourself feeling tired and fatigued at times. Your body is undergoing dramatic changes and levels of the hormone progesterone will be increasing, which all contributes to you feeling tired and sluggish.

If this sounds like you, don’t panic! It is perfectly normal and particularly common during the first trimester. It can ease during the second trimester, when some women suddenly feel alert and full of energy, but may be back in the third trimester. The best thing to do is look after yourself, set aside plenty of time to rest and ensure you’re eating and drinking healthily. Having a nap in the day may help, as can going to bed earlier at night. You may not feel much like going out during the day, but some gentle exercise, such as walking, and getting out in the fresh air can give you a boost.

If the fatigue continues and you’re worried, then seek the advice of your doctor.


It can be worrying to suddenly feel as if you can’t get enough breath, but it’s actually a relatively common symptom of pregnancy. Anyone can get it at any stage, because your lungs are working much harder to meet your oxygen needs. Breathlessness particularly occurs from mid-pregnancy onwards, and especially in the third trimester. This is due to the growing uterus, which puts pressure on your diaphragm, making it feel harder for you to breathe. If you’re having multiples, this can be exacerbated even more.

If you do find yourself feeling breathless, the key thing is not to panic. Sit down, calm down, relax and let yourself slowly get over the feeling. Don’t try and do too much or be too active and instead try and give yourself some time out to relax. At night you may find that propping yourself up on a couple of extra pillows may help and when you’re sitting down in the day, sitting up straight with your shoulders back will give your lungs plenty of room to expand.

If you’re an asthma sufferer, then it’s important to get breathlessness checked over by your doctor.

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