7 minute read
How to Get Amazing Sleep During Pregnancy: Our Top Tips & Tricks
Tossing and turning trying to get comfortable with that new baby bump? Have you heard that you could hurt your baby by the way you sleep? Nothing makes a parent-to-be more awake and unable to sleep than this worry that is for sure!
Let’s debunk the myths and get you comfy and cozy and off to dreamland, shall we?
Oh, and we will also give some tips to help you get a better night’s sleep – in pregnancy and beyond, cause the struggle is real.
Pregnancy Sleep Positions
Stomach, back or side? You may be wondering which sleep position is best while you’re pregnant. The good news is your body is super smart, and will usually help you naturally transition to the best sleep positions as you progress in your pregnancy. As your body changes, you will be given cues of how to move and change positions. No need to set an alarm or bolt up in the middle of the night if you found yourself on the right side or back. Trust your body that it will wake you up and move as it needs.
That beng said, there are some optimal sleep positions for the pregnant body. Let’s take a look at the different sleep positions and which are best for you and your baby!
What Is The Best Sleep Position During Pregnancy?
If you want to get the most shut-eye and improve your quality of sleep…the most comfortable sleep position during pregnancy is on your side (AmericanPregnancyAssociation.org).
Sleeping on your side with bent knees will give your body and baby two major benefits:
- Makes your heart’s job easier because you keep the baby’s weight from applying pressure to the large vein (called the inferior vena cava) that carries blood back to the heart from your feet and legs.
- Provides the best circulation for you and your baby. It also places the least pressure on your veins and internal organs. Plus good circulation helps reduce potential swelling, varicose veins in your legs, and hemorrhoids.
- Can shorten your labour and make birth easier. This is because the uterus is tilted forward, thus giving your baby more room during the night. If your baby is given lots of room in the uterus while you sleep, it will be more apt to land head down and in the right position for birth.
But you may be wondering…which side is better?
Is Left the Best? Pregnancy Sleep on Left Side
Sleeping on your left side improves circulation to the heart and allows for the best blood flow to the fetus, uterus, and kidneys. So not only will your baby be super happy, you’ll also enhance your kidney function which helps your body to eliminate waste. This reduces the swelling in your feet, ankles and hands. Sounds pretty great right? But again, this doesn’t make the right side sleep bad…just good info to know if you are going to lye down and binge watch 3 hours of Ted Lasso….your left side has some awesome benefits.
Pregnancy Sleep on Stomach
You may be able to sleep on your stomach during your first trimester and a bit into your second trimester, but after a while, your baby bump will start to get in the way naturally. You may also start to experience some soreness in your breasts or uterus as they begin to grow. At that point, you’ll want to try a different position, or add a TON of pillows… just so you can get better sleep. Your uterine walls and amniotic fluid cushion and protect the baby, so it’s less about safety and more about getting the comfort you need to sleep deeply.
Pregnancy Sleep on Back
If you’re used to sleeping on your back, enjoy it while your baby belly is small. During the second and third trimester, it’s a good idea to start limiting the amount of time you sleep flat on your back. This is because sleeping on your back while pregnant causes your growing belly to put extra pressure on your intestines and major blood vessels. This can lead to unwanted problems like:
- Digestive problems
- Decrease the amount of blood that circulates to your heart and baby
- Low blood pressure (Which can make you dizzy!)
- Increased risk for breech presentation or malposition for birth
The good news is — you don’t need to drive yourself crazy worrying that you might roll over onto your back during the night. Shifting positions is a natural part of sleeping that you can’t control. And remember, your body is smart.
Most likely, during the third trimester of your pregnancy, your body won’t shift into the back-sleeping position anyway because it will be too uncomfortable. But don’t worry if you do — it’s common to spend at least some time sleeping on your back (National Institute of Health).
So breathe a sigh of relief and just do your best to get comfortable! You need as much sleep as you can get right now! You’ll appreciate the extra rest once your baby starts waking you up for those midnight — and 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. — feedings.
Tips on Comfortable Pregnancy Sleep Positions
Here are a few things to try if you’re having a hard time falling asleep, waking up constantly in the middle of the night, or staring at the ceiling counting sheep at 2 a.m.
- Use lots of pillows…like A LOT pillows. Carefully placed pillows can do wonders for helping you get comfortable. And yes, your partner may need to tuck you in at some point.
- For back and belly support: Place a pillow between your bent knees, under your belly, or in the small of your back.
- For heartburn relief: Try placing an extra pillow under your head to raise it a bit.
- For hip pain relief: Place an egg foam crate or extra foam mattress pad on top of your mattress to ease the discomfort.
- Get a special pregnancy sleep pillow. If your traditional pillows just aren’t cutting it, try out a special wedge pillow or an extra long body pillow! Many pregnant parents swear by these pillows and will not give them up!
- Sleep during the day for 20+ minutes. A short nap can help you catch up on lost sleep. And naps can also make you more alert, sharpen your memory, and help with pregnancy fatigue. If sleeping in the night is a challenge, give yourself permission to sleep in, go to bed early and take naps. Your pregnant body is training itself to wake up regularly in the night once the baby is born – rude I know! So if night sleep is hard, sleep during the day.
Be patient with yourself! It can take a few days for your body to get used to a new position or pillow.
Natural Sleep Remedies for Pregnancy
We recommend taking a proactive approach to sleep rather than waiting for sleepless nights…
If you want to set yourself up for sleep success — there are three key areas to focus on to help you develop healthy habits that support good sleep. Here are some helpful tips to follow:
Bringing Calm to Your Mind & Body
- Create a peaceful bedroom: A dark, quiet and relaxing environment and a cooler temperature can help encourage sleep. Use a Pillow Spray to deepen relaxation.
- Add a mini massage ritual right before bed. Have your partner give a short head, hand or foot rub that you can learn in our Birth Dates Class. Side perk of this one – you are preparing for birth too!
- Set the mood: Use your bed only for relaxing, sleeping, and sex of course 😉
- Limit electronics: Keeping electronics out of the bedroom and avoiding screens before bed will help you drift off to sleep faster.
- Engage in soothing activities: Before bedtime, do something that relaxes you. Watch a mindless TV show, take a bath, do some yoga stretches, read a book, snuggle with your partner. Be mindful of allowing your body time to settle into rest and let go of the busy day.
Try These Relaxation Techniques that Actually Work:
- Don’t let your worries run away and control your day: Journal throughout the day and keep a notepad and pen next to your bed at night. As SOON as a thought, worry or to-do list item comes to mind at night, write it down! Writing down your thoughts can help you to process any anxieties you experience while pregnant. And consider talking to a counselor, partner, family member, or friend to help you process your emotions.
2. Connect with your precious baby. Place your hands on your belly and just focus on your breath, being aware of how safe and loved your baby is. Spend this quiet time just breathing and being together. Imagine different colours moving from your hands through to your baby. Realize how connected you are. And just breathe.
4. Practice mediation, deep breathing, and guided imagery. These types of exercises can help you to ease any anxiety or tension you’re experiencing. Practicing relaxing your mind and body will help you drift off to sleep. Our Birth Dates course comes with 3 guided relaxation practices that you can listen to each night and then again during labour for amazing results.
Daily Dietary Changes Can Help Sleep
- Eat small meals throughout the day, instead of three large meals.
- Limit eating or drinking before bed: Try to avoid eating a meal within 3-4 hours of bedtime. And try not to drink within two hours of bed to help you avoid middle of the night bathroom breaks.
- Cut out caffeine: Limit your intake of beverages like coffee, soda, or tea — also beware coffee flavored ice cream! These tasty treats can keep you awake.
- Avoid carbonated drinks, citrus, peppermint, tomatoes, and spicy or fatty foods: These can trigger acid reflux.
There are bound to be times when you just can’t sleep. Instead of tossing and turning, worrying that you’re not asleep, and counting the hours until your alarm clock goes off…
Try getting up and doing a non-stimulating activity: read a book, listen to music, watch TV, catch up on thank you letters from the baby shower, or eat some peanut butter toast. It’s been proven that staying in bed annoyed, exacerbates the frustration of not sleeping. So get up and do something and eventually, you’ll feel tired again and be able to go back to sleep.
Is Fear and Anxiety About Birth Keeping You Awake?
Pregnancy can bring on a load of worry or thoughts about all the unknowns ahead. Anxieties about birth can be normal, but it’s important to not let the fears grow. The most empowering thing you can do in your pregnancy to lessen fear and worry for birth is to take a COMPREHENSIVE childbirth class! Gaining more knowledge and knowing what to expect about the birth process, labor, and postpartum can help put you at ease..and actually let you sleep!
I’d love to have you join me in Birth Dates, my self-paced birth preparation course for couples! After teaching expecting parents for 15+ years, creating Birth Dates was an absolute dream come true! This class gives a space for pregnant couples to learn about birth in a fun, engaging way, to reduce their fears, and to ultimately experience birth as a true team. See if this class is the right fit for you!