How to Sleep When You’re Pregnant
Everybody is familiar with the scenario of the exhausted new parents who are up at all hours of the night taking care of a crying baby. When you got pregnant, you probably thought that you have nine months to rest up and get all that sleep in advance, right? Actually, sleeping during pregnancy isn’t always that easy. Physical discomfort, needing to get up and use the bathroom, and emotional stress can all put a strain on your sleeping habits. There are a few simple things you can do to make sleeping safe and comfortable for both you and your baby.
The recommended position for pregnant women to sleep in is “SOS.” Don’t worry, it’s nothing scary! SOS stands for “sleep on side.” While it may seem obvious that you will no longer be able to sleep on your front as your baby bump grows larger, sleeping on your back should be avoided, especially in the third trimester.
Sleeping on your back can lead to a number of problems like back ache, low blood pressure and hemorrhoids, among others. The most serious reason to avoid it is that your baby’s weight can squash the vena cava, the large vein that carries blood back from your legs to your heart. While this can be hazardous to your circulation, don’t worry if you naturally roll onto back while sleeping. Later on during your pregnancy, it will likely become uncomfortable to lie on your back, so just shift your body back into a side position should you wake up during the night in that position.
Some doctors recommend sleeping on your left side especially. As the liver is on the right side of your body, sleeping on your left avoids squashing this vital organ. It also increases blood circulation for you and the baby.
If you’re not used to sleeping on your side, or if it becomes increasingly difficult to get comfortable as your pregnancy progresses, try using pillows to support you. Place one at the small of your back, between your knees, or under your abdomen. Some women have even reported using pillows to prop them up into a reclined seating position to sleep. Experiment and find what works for you.
Common Problems and their Solutions
- You need to get up to pee: Your baby starts to take up room normally reserved for your kidneys and bladder, so they have a reduced capacity. In addition, the kidneys are working overtime to filter your blood and excrete pollutants via urine – which results in extra urine. To avoid having to constantly get up for toilet runs during the night, avoid drinking anything 3 hours before you go to bed. Do make sure to consume extra fluids earlier in the day to keep you hydrated, however.
- Acid Reflux: Your digestion slows down during pregnancy and as your baby gets bigger it often starts to press on your stomach, forcing acid back up to your throat and causing heartburn. Avoid eating 4 hours before going to bed, as lying down slows down digestion even further and a lying position makes it easy for acid to leak up where it doesn’t belong. Stay upright for four hours after eating, and try a smaller dinner, with larger meals for breakfast and lunch.
You just can’t relax: It can happen that the worst troubles you have during pregnancy aren’t physical at all. The stress of a huge life change and uncertainty about the future can make it hard to feel restful. If you are having bad dreams or your mind races as you spend your nights worrying about finances or your parenting abilities, try some relaxation techniques. Avoid exercise or strenuous movement before bed as this will keep you alert. Prenatal yoga and breathing exercises can help, or implement a wind-down ritual before you go to bed. Sometimes the best solution is to just talk about it. If you have a partner, discuss your worries with them. Join a parenting class, and find other mothers or pregnant women to talk to. Knowing that you’re not alone sometimes makes all the difference.