Sleep is one of the challenges of pregnancy, as your body experiences many changes while growing another human being inside you.
Problems with sleep may begin as early as the first trimester, as an expectant mother often needs to get up several times in the night to go to the bathroom, as the growing fetus puts pressure on her bladder.
Plus, in the early stages of pregnancy, many mothers fight daytime sleepiness by taking long naps during the day, and so they end up wide awake at night. There is an emotional component as well, as pregnant women can experience problems with stress and anxiety.
Most of the time pregnant women sleep better during the second trimester when the baby moves from his or her position, however, sleep problems come back in the third trimester, while the baby is getting bigger, a short while before he or she is born.
Women in the third trimester sometimes complain of leg cramps and heartburn, or difficulty breathing due to sinus congestion.
Sleeping Tips for Pregnant Women
So what should pregnant women do? Happily enough there are some things women can do while they are expecting, to improve the quality of their sleep. Here are some suggestions they can follow to ensure good quality sleep at night, so they stay healthy and strong as they enter motherhood.
1. Catnaps. One of the most oft-repeated sleeping tips from mothers is to make up for lack of nighttime sleep by catnapping in the day—not too much, as you don’t want your naps to throw you off schedule, but short power naps should restore energy and peace of mind.
2. Don’t drink too much water in the evening. Remember to hydrate during the day, as this is essential for your (and baby’s) general health. But too much fluid just before bedtime will lead to frequent nighttime urination, and therefore, poor sleep.
3. Invest in good pillows—Especially later in your pregnancy, your growing belly can make sleep quite challenging.
Looking for a good position for even just breathing well does not come easily to some pregnant women. And so they recommend different types of pillows to help you get comfortable.
A long body pillow that you can wrap your leg around might work well for helping with leg cramps. Another option is a wedge-shaped pillow to insert under your back. Some mothers also prefer firmer pillows that they can prop themselves up on to breathe well, and this position also helps pregnant women suffering from heartburn.
4. If you are fighting nausea, eat small amounts of bland foods like crackers throughout the day. Contrary to conventional wisdom, nausea is handled better on a full stomach. And sleep comes easier when you are not nauseated.
5. Stay active. Regular exercise is good for your body and your mind and helps keep your hormone levels stable. Regular exercise leads to good sleep. Exercise also helps to cut down leg cramps.
6. Relax. Have daily rituals that relax you and uplift your mood. Some spas specialize in “mommy massages,” and there are yoga classes that cater to pregnant women.
Practice relaxation and breathing techniques, and soothing rituals like warm showers and reading at bedtime will help as well. Your peace of mind and sense of serenity are very important to both you and your baby.
Pro tip: learning proper breathing techniques will also actually help you when your labor starts before the baby is born, and so this is something that is worth it.
7. Watch your food intake. Eating a heavy meal right before bedtime is not advisable, as heartburn can be a real issue during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester.
Stay away from spicy and fried food to keep heartburn at bay. If you eat too early, you may get hungry before bedtime and find it hard to fall asleep.
If so, a soothing glass of warm milk may help, or a cup of chamomile tea, or some snack like a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts.
8. Sleep on your left side, as this causes good blood flow to the baby, as well as to your kidneys. Sleeping completely flat on your back, however, is not advisable.
9. Stay away from stressful situations which are harmful to both you and your child. Don’t be afraid to say no to toxic relationships that drain your energy at this point in your life.
10. If you suffer from persistent insomnia, talk to your doctor. A medical professional is best qualified to give you good advice for getting the sleep you need.