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Best Sleep Practices During Pregnancy


*Nothing in this article constitutes medical advice. Seek the guidance of a physician if you have any questions.*

Pregnancy occurs so often in society that most people will never stop to think about the rapid changes a female body goes through during that time. Pregnancy causes a surge in hormones, which is needed to help the body maintain pregnancy.  Those hormones are also responsible for daytime drowsiness and mood swings. A recent study recommends that pregnant women get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.  How does one sleep comfortably with a growing baby bump, plus sharing their sleeping space with a partner? A woman's body will change rapidly every trimester, meaning comfortable sleeping positions will be more challenging to find as time passes.

Tips For Sleeping For Each Trimester During Pregnancy

Sometimes it can be challenging to get the recommended amount of sleep during pregnancy because of the physiological and psychological changes. The sudden increase in hormones and other changes can bring on many different discomforts, making it hard to get adequate sleep. Some discomforts include:

  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Excessive Urination
  • Back Pain
  • Leg Cramps
  • Restless Leg Syndrome

Pregnancy symptoms can prevent a comfortable night of sleep, leading to sleep disorders and preterm birth. Studies have found that the risk of developing a sleep disorder increases during the trimester. As a woman moves towards giving birth, sleep becomes more elusive, but the mom-to-be must get good rest. Therefore, this article will highlight tips that can be followed through each trimester for ultimate calm and relaxation.

First Trimester

During the first trimester, high progesterone levels may cause drowsiness during the day, negatively impacting sleep at night. The body is working hard during the first trimester to get everything to carry the baby and birth. The challenge with the trimester may include tender and swollen breasts, acid reflux, and feeling overheated. To help combat these conditions, try the following:

  • Take naps during the day, if your schedule permits.
  • Start trying a side sleeping position, especially if you typically sleep on your stomach.
  • Wear cool sleepwear for when your body temperature rises.
Second Trimester

During this trimester, sleep typically gets easier because nausea and morning sickness subsides. Some of the more minor and nagging pregnancy symptoms will go away, but the back may start to ache. Stomach sleepers should stop sleeping on their stomach and back. Back pain can put pressure on the central vein that brings blood from the lower extremities to the heart. In this stage, one should create sleep rituals to help promote sound, quality sleep because the third trimester will be more challenging. Extra pillows can help the spine stay aligned; one can be placed between the knees and another one to help support the stomach.

Common complaints during the second trimester that may impact sleep include:

  • Leg aches or cramping.
  • Headaches
  • Restless leg syndrome
Third Trimester

During the last stretch of pregnancy, the trips to the bathroom become more frequent, and heartburn persists. One study found that pregnancy increases the risk for snoring and sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

Tips for better sleep during the third trimester include:

  • Continue the side sleep position.
  • Use extra pillows to keep the spine aligned.
  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature
  • No spicy foods or caffeine
  • Reduce time spent on electronic devices, especially during the evenings
  • Lower lights and keep the noise down.

Sleep troubles are typical in the final weeks of pregnancy and will hot harm the baby. However, a decrease in sleep can lead to more prolonged labor and increase the likelihood of Cesarean delivery. One recommendation is for the mom-to-be to nape during the day if they can.

Sleeping Positions

Side Sleeping Positions While Pregnant

Side sleeping is recommended for all trimesters of pregnancy. However, some women who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, might want to avoid sleeping on their right side during the second or third trimester. Experts agree that sleeping on the right side can cause a flare-up of GERD symptoms.

Some research backs up the claim that sleeping on the left side while pregnant is the better option because it promotes blood flow to the kidneys and fetus. There is not much research on whether it is best to sleep on the left or right sides during pregnancy. However, a handful of studies support the claim that either side is okay.

Back Sleeping Position While Pregnant

Most people naturally sleep on their backs, but this should be avoided during the second and third trimesters. Why? Because the weight of the baby bump plus gravity from lying on the back can put unnecessary pressure on the central vein that brings blood to the heart. The stress of laying on one's back can cause difficulty breathing and low blood pressure, making the mom-to-be dizzy.

Sleeping on the back during pregnancy can also cause digestive problems, low blood pressure, hemorrhoids, and decreased circulation. Research has also shown that sleeping on the back can lead to adverse outcomes at birth.

Stomach Sleeping Position While Pregnant

Many women wonder if sleeping on their stomachs will harm the baby. However, it is essential to note that the uterus wall naturally thickens to help protect the fetus. Most women find it increasingly uncomfortable to sleep on their bellies as the baby grows bigger. So, they automatically gravitate towards side sleeping positions.

Best Mattress For Sleeping During Pregnancy

The best mattress conforms to a pregnant woman's changing body, improving the spine's alignment, which keeps the mom-to-be on an even plane without the mattress sagging. Tips for choosing a mattress during pregnancy include:

  • Zoned mattresses are the most popular and the most comfortable because they offer the best support for the lower back.
  • Latex mattresses are known to alleviate pressure in the back and buttock area better than other mattress types.
  • Semi firm mattresses may provide more relief for the lower back pain symptoms when compared to firm models.



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