How to sleep while pregnant

Parents-to-be already know that it will be tough to sleep through a full night after the baby arrives, but who knew it would be so hard to sleep even when pregnant?

When you are pregnant you may sleep more than normal during the first trimester because the body is working to protect and nourish the fetus: the placenta is forming, the body produces more blood and the heart pumps more. Most women have trouble sleeping well, sleeping uninterrupted later: in the second and especially in the third trimester.

Causes of sleep disorders

The main reason for the typical tossing and turning in pregnancy is the increase in the size of the fetus, which can make it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. Over time, turning over and changing positions in bed then becomes more and more difficult, because you yourself become more and more cumbersome.

The other reasons that can determine a difficulty in starting and maintaining restful sleep can be:

  • a frequent urge to urinate . Your kidneys work harder to filter the greater volume of blood in your body; moreover, as your baby and therefore the uterus get bigger, the pressure on your bladder increases.
  • an acceleration of the heartbeat . Your heart rate increases to pump more blood, and since most of it goes to the uterus, the heart works harder to “cover” the rest of the body.
  • shortness of breath . The rise in pregnancy hormones makes you breathe more deeply. You may feel like it’s harder to breathe. Later in pregnancy, breathing becomes more difficult as the uterus becomes increasingly bulky, putting pressure on the diaphragm (the muscle under the lungs).
  • of leg cramps and back pain . The extra weight you have to carry can give you back or leg pain.
  • of heartburn or constipation . During pregnancy, the entire digestive system slows down, and food stays longer in the stomach and intestines. This could cause heartburn and constipation.
  • stress . Maybe you’re worried about your baby’s health, or you’re anxious about your skills as a mother, or you’re feeling nervous about the upcoming birth.

Best sleeping positions during pregnancy

Try to get into the habit of sleeping on your side early in your pregnancy. Lying on your side with your knees bent is probably the most comfortable position you can adopt throughout your pregnancy. Furthermore, this position helps your heart, because the baby’s weight does not crush the inferior vena cava, that large vessel that carries blood back to the heart from the feet and legs.

Some doctors specifically recommend that pregnant women sleep on their left side, this is because the liver remains on the right side of the abdomen, and lying on the opposite side helps to oppress it with the uterus. Furthermore, sleeping on the left side improves circulation to the heart, and guarantees the best blood supply to the fetus, uterus and kidneys. Ask your doctor what he recommends you do about it.

Either way, there’s no need to go crazy to be careful not to turn over during the night. Changing positions is a natural part of sleep and there is no control over it.

It is very likely that during the third trimester of your pregnancy, the body does not go into certain positions on its own, just because they are uncomfortable.

If you roll onto your back, the discomfort you feel will likely wake you up. Talk to your doctor, who may suggest that you use a pillow to lie on your side.

Experiment with the cushions yourself to find out which position you prefer. Some women find it helpful to place a pillow under their abdomen or between their legs.

You can find many pregnancy pillows on the market.

Pregnancy, how to sleep

  • Remedies for sleeping without a prescription, such as relaxation pills, are not recommended, but neither are herbal remedies that you can otherwise find in pharmacies, parapharmacies or supermarkets.
  • Do not drink caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and sodas.
  • Try not to drink a lot of fluids or eat a lot a few hours before bed.
  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Try not to exercise too much before bed.
  • Instead, do something relaxing, like reading a book, or drinking a warm drink, like milk and honey or herbal tea.
  • If you wake up with leg cramps, it may help to stretch your leg muscles before going to bed.
  • Check with your doctor if you’re getting enough calcium and magnesium, a lack of which could be causing night cramps.
  • If you have fears and anxieties keeping you awake, consider taking part in a preparatory course or a course for parents: having more knowledge and with the company of other pregnant women, you will certainly feel calmer.

How to overcome sleeping difficulties during pregnancy

When you can’t sleep, get up and do something,

  • read a book,
  • listen to music,
  • watching TV,
  • check your emails or do any other activity you enjoy.

Eventually you will probably feel tired enough to go back to bed.

If possible, make up for the sleep you lose at night by taking 30-60 minute naps during the day.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

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