You would think with all those pregnancy hormones triggering a desperate need to sleep, nighttime would bring some relief for soon-to-be moms. Reality isn’t so dreamy, though. Studies have shown that during the first trimester, even though sleep times increase, the quality goes down. Adjusting to an expanding belly, frequently being awakened by baby or bladder, and the inability to just get comfortable as your pregnancy progresses are all culprits. The good news: better sleep lies ahead for both you and your baby.
Best Sleeping Positions during Pregnancy
In the first trimester, sleep in any position you want. And soak it up, because that will be changing. As your belly starts to make itself known around 15 weeks or so, it’s time to adjust. Sleeping on your stomach and back are out – side sleeping is in. Here’s why:
Issues with Stomach Sleeping while Pregnant
When baby gets big enough, sleeping on your stomach can cause , pressure against your main arteries and stem proper blood flow. Plus, stomach sleeping generally doesn’t work once your belly reaches a certain size, unless you like sleeping on a beach ball.
Problems with Back Sleeping when Pregnant
Sleeping on your back causes similar issues, plus some. Back sleeping puts all the weight on your lower back and intestines. This might trigger worse backaches then you already have, and possible hemorrhoids and digestive difficulties. Back sleeping also puts pressure on the aorta and inferior vena cava – major blood vessels that carry blood to your heart from your legs and feet. The interference in your circulation can result in low blood pressure, which in turn lowers the blood flow to baby and decreases their oxygen and nutrient levels. No good.
The Solution is Side Sleeping During Pregnancy
Side sleeping is your best bet – and left-side sleeping, in particular has its benefits. It allows for optimal circulation, ensuring quality blood flow and nutrients for baby. Left-side sleeping also enhances kidney function for better waste elimination and less swelling of your extremities. Hallelujah!
How to Get Comfortable Enough to Sleep
For pregnant women, the struggle is real – especially the struggle with nightly heartburn. If you’re one of those lucky ladies, it can make getting comfortable enough to sleep nearly impossible. To help, grab an extra pillow or two, lay on your side, and slightly prop up your head. This will encourage gravity to do its job of keeping the acid in your stomach rather than in your chest.
When you’re uncomfortable in bed, being able to switch positions is a huge plus. Unfortunately, you’re pregnant and you pretty much have one choice. Left-side sleeping every single night can start to cause some hip pain, as if you don’t already have enough. Invest in an egg-crate foam topper for extra support and to ease some of the pressure on your hips. They are easy to find and offer an inexpensive investment for the relief you’ll get out of it. And when you lay down, bend your knees and pull them up a bit (below your pelvis) for some added comfort.
Food and Sleeping During Pregnancy
Besides the typical advice of avoiding caffeine and not drinking anything within a few hours of bed, there are a few extra tips to follow when you’re pregnant and want to get a solid night’s sleep.
- Consider only drinking beverages between meals rather than during meals to help with heartburn.
- Avoid large meals and eat smaller meals more frequently.
- Cravings aside, try to avoid spicy, greasy, or fatty foods. Like that cheeseburger.
- Stay upright for a while after eating so you don’t trigger the heartburn.
- Snack on something bland before bed, like crackers, to help with morning sickness.
- Use deep, calming breathing techniques and intentional muscle relaxation as you lay down.
- Stick to a sleep schedule and try to avoid disruptions to it.
- Keep the room cooler than usual to help adjust to your overly warm body.
- Drink warm milk – moms everywhere swear by it so, as long as you aren’t dairy sensitive or intolerant, indulge.
- Naps every day! If you can – but definitely on your days off of work.
It goes without saying that getting a good night’s sleep before the baby arrives is pretty important – but it’s also important to your everyday health. Make happy sleeping a priority for you and baby and you’ll be prepared for anything that comes your way.