Sleeping Well Throughout Pregnancy

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi holds an academic position at Northumbria University. After completing her Ph.D. at Northeastern University (Boston, MA), she joined the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a post-doctoral fellow to research how sleep and circadian rhythmicity influence our cognitive functioning.

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By Rosie Osmun Certified Sleep Coach

This is a guest post from Philip Masterson. “We never know the love of a parent until we become parents ourselves.” The insightful words of Henry Ward Beecher, a 19th…

Last Updated On November 13th, 2022
Sleeping Well Throughout Pregnancy

This is a guest post from Philip Masterson.

“We never know the love of a parent until we become parents ourselves.”

The insightful words of Henry Ward Beecher, a 19th century American social reformer, remain true to this day. One cannot truly grasp the sacrifices of her mother unless she puts herself in her mother’s shoes.

For a woman, the journey to motherhood starts on day one of her pregnancy. The first three months, or the first trimester, is a critical period to both mother and child. The mother’s body is exerting double the effort to support herself and her unborn, thus she’s more likely to feel fatigued and sleepy.

During those first three months, many women begin experiencing sleeping problems. The discomforts that come with her condition often interfere with her usual uninterrupted sleep at night, and tend to become progressively bothersome to rest. Her growing abdomen makes it uncomfortable to sleep on her back and stomach, pressure on the bladder often forces her out of bed several times, while heartburn also disrupts sleep at night.

Getting quality rest is important to both mother and child, and thankfully there are a few ways to ease discomfort and encourage better sleep. Here are a few helpful sleeping tips designed specifically for pregnant women.

Changing Lifestyle Habits

Pregnancy often means changing some of your lifestyle habits. Your “all day caffeine” and late-night sodas have to go, at least for now.

There is some debate about whether drinking coffee can cause health hazards to an unborn child. Nonetheless, caffeine (regardless of amount) later in the day can affect sleep, so swapping out coffee and tea for herbal, caffeine-free alternatives can have multiple benefits.

It is also important to eat a balanced diet. Remember that you are feeding another life inside you. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that an expectant mother should consume an adequate amount of calcium, folic acid, iron, and protein every day.

It is also important to eat a balanced diet. Remember that you are feeding another life inside you.

These nutrients are essential for both mother and baby’s health, and can also ensure better sleep at night. Eating meals at least a couple of hours before bed and choosing mild evening snacks may also help prevent indigestion.

Engage In Moderate Exercise

The National Institutes of Health states that moderate physical activity during pregnancy can help reduce the discomforts of pregnancy such as muscle pain, leg cramps and swelling. It can also improve sleep. Walking and water aerobics can do wonders to your health as well as your baby’s.

However, it is imperative that you speak to your doctor before engaging in any physical activity to know the safe level of exercise for you.

Sleep On Your Side

For a comfortable sleep, you should know the perfect position for you. Doctors generally recommend that pregnant women sleep on their side to keep the baby’s weight from applying pressure to her heart’s inferior vena cava. This vein carries blood back to the heart from the legs.

While there is no right side to sleep on, some caregivers advise slumbering on the left side to keep the mother’s weight from pushing down on her liver.

Hydrate During the Day

Generally, a mother should drink eight to 12 glasses of water each day. This can avert the negative impact of dehydration. Lack of water can lead to low amniotic fluid, reducing support for the baby inside the womb.

Dehydration can also cause overheating as a pregnant woman’s body is not able to get rid of body heat as easily. Sleeping during pregnancy is challenging, even more so when your body is as warm as a furnace.

Drink up plenty of pure water throughout the daytime but avoid too much liquid near bedtime to lessen frequent bathroom trips throughout the night.

Get a Comfy Bed and Lots of Pillows

Get quality sleep by giving your body all the support it needs. Since your torso becomes heavier, your lower body may suffer from muscle pains and cramps. Finding the best mattress for side sleepers, one that provides good support and plenty of cushioning is ideal.

When you feel the onset of a heartburn episode, lie on a sofa bed with your chest slightly elevated or use a few pillows to support your back and keep your upper body elevated. This will help keep the acid out of your esophagus.

To sleep comfortably on your side, place a pillow between your legs and on your back to support your hips. Experts recommend pregnancy wedge pillows of various shapes and sizes to customize support and comfort for your unique needs.

Acquire a Bedtime Routine

Sleeping troubles may not be new to you during pregnancy, and having a solid bedtime routine is helpful for good rest at any stage of life.

Researchers at Warwick Medical School warn that about 150 million adults are suffering from sleeping problems across the developing world. Sleep plays a vital role in supercharging productivity. A sleep-deprived person lacks the physical energy and mental capacity to function well during the day.

One effective tactic is to develop a relaxing bedtime routine, especially one that doesn’t involve any electronic screens. The light from these devices suppresses the evening rise in melatonin leading to delayed sleep.

The struggles are worse for expectant mothers due to the biological changes they go through. A good ritual involves relaxing things like baths, breathing exercises, or reading a book. An hour before your scheduled bedtime, turn off your smartphone and TV and start winding down. Dr. Nayantara Santhi advises, “Our brains are naturally wired to sleep in darkness and be awake in light. Being careful about our use of digital devices in bed can go a long way in promoting good sleep.”

Cut Your Anxiety and Stress Levels

Every guide to sleeping for mother and baby includes stress management tips. The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests that stress may be keeping adults and teens awake at bedtime. In a recent study, APA researchers Verified Source American Psychological Association (APA) Collaborative organization for psychologists across the country. View source found that many Americans feel that “their stress increases when the length and quality of their sleep decreases.” Manage your stress levels by doing stretches, clearing your mind and being mindful of your emotions.

Pregnancy is a momentous part of many women’s lives. The nine-month gestation period is delicate as several things can put the mother’s health, as well as her child’s, at risk. Paying attention to the basics like eating a balanced diet, getting moderate physical activity, managing her stress levels, and getting quality sleep each night help provide the foundation for a healthy pregnancy, and they all work hand in hand for wellness.

Philip Masterson is a Market specialist, Researcher, Security Advocate and a Freelance Writer. He has written a range of topics including home and community security, technology, environment, world market and world businesses. Follow him on Twitter.

About the author

Rosie Osmun regularly contributes to the Amerisleep blog writing about topics including, reducing back pain while sleeping, the best dinners for better sleep, and improving productivity to make the most of your mornings. She finds the science of sleep fascinating and loves researching and writing about beds. Rosie is also passionate about traveling, languages, and history.

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