Getting a good night’s sleep during your pregnancy may be hard to come by as your body works towards supporting your baby and you are preparing for the physical event of childbirth . Being able to get sufficient rest is an essential part of your pregnancy but it could seem strange that when your body needs it the most, sleep eludes you. Trying to find an ideal sleeping position and adjusting to the changes of each trimester can often be a challenge.
Changes in your sleeping pattern
During the first trimester of your pregnancy you may discover that you are sleeping more than usual as your body works to nurture your developing baby. This could mean not having a good night’s sleep every night. Pressure from your growing uterus may cause you to make countless trips to the bathroom during the night.
As nausea and fatigue subsides, the second trimester can be a good time to set a routine by going to bed and waking up around the same time each day to help establish a pattern in preparation for the third trimester.
Most pregnant women find that they have the most trouble getting uninterrupted sleep during the latter stages of the pregnancy. As the growing baby increases in size, it is often harder to find a comfortable sleeping position.
Many pregnant women report having vivid dreams, especially in the last trimester. These dreams can mainly be attributed to changing hormonal levels. They are completely normal and may reflect concerns about how many adjustments will need to be made.
Although it is common for pregnant women to experience interrupted sleep during the night there are various ways where you can minimise its impact on your usual sleeping pattern.
Sleeping positions for better comfort during pregnancy
Try and get into the habit of sleeping on your left-hand side with your legs comfortably bent. Most pregnant women are advised to avoid sleeping on their right side. There is a major vein in your body called the vena cava, on this side that is responsible for taking blood back to the heart, and pressure on this may reduce your blood supply and cause dizziness.
Experiment with using pillows to find comfortable sleeping positions. Try using a body pillow to support your top leg or a rolled-up blanket for your abdomen to relieve pressure off your lower back.
When you are getting up from laying down, remember to roll onto your side and push up with your arms. This will help to prevent extra pressure on your already separating abdominal muscles.
Ways to help you get a better night’s sleep
It may help to know what is affecting your sleep the most and work towards changing what you can. Introducing small changes will help your body to adapt to a different sleeping pattern as it changes through each trimester.
- Your baby may be particularly active at night when you are settling for your sleep. This may be because your movement throughout the day has gently rocked them to sleep. Also when you are lying down your baby can stretch out more and kick around. Gently massage over your tummy and enjoy the movement. Breathe deeply and let your mind rest.
- You may find that you begin to suffer from “night sweats”. Keep a cool damp cloth next to your bed and wipe yourself over if this happens.
- Try and establish a routine to help you wind down from a busy day. Introduce yoga, meditation or other relaxation techniques into your lifestyle to help you unwind.
- Avoid rigorous exercise leading up to bedtime. Instead, try relaxing with a soak in the bath or reading a book.
- Your sleeplessness may be related to your mind working overtime planning everything that you have to do before your baby is born. Keep a note pad and pencil next to your bed, write your thoughts down and then lay back and try to get a good night’s rest.
- Do not take any drugs to help you sleep, natural or medicinal, as these could have an adverse affect on you or your baby.
- Before using herbal teas you should check with a pharmacist or your maternity care provider. Herbal teas should be taken only in a weak infusion and consumed in moderation during pregnancy. A warm cup of milk with honey before bed is an ideal way to wind down.
- Minimise caffeine such as coffee or tea. And limit any intake to the morning or early afternoon. See Pregnancy diet for more information.
- If you are experiencing issues with heartburn, try not to eat large meals just before bedtime and have more frequent and smaller meals throughout the day.
- Try to avoid daytime napping if you’re not sleeping well at night. Aim for an early bedtime if you’re really exhausted.
There are bound to be nights where you just can’t fall asleep. Instead of worrying about not getting enough rest, try occupying the time with something you enjoy, like reading a book or listening to music.