How to Sleep Like a Baby While You're Pregnant
Your feet are swollen … your back aches … you're exhausted and it feels like someone cranked up the heat. Is it a fever or the flu? Nope. It's just pregnancy and the fact that an alien has invaded your body. And there's nothing you can do but wait out those nine long months. Or is there?
While none of the symptoms of pregnancy can be "cured," many of them can be eased. If your bundle of joy is already keeping you up at night, we've got some helpful tips that might have you sleeping like a baby in no time.
9 tips for sleeping better during pregnancy:
- Lie on your left side to help improve blood flow to your baby and your uterus. If you wake up on your right side, it's okay; either side is better than sleeping on your back, which compresses the large vein called the vena cava and decreases blood flow and oxygen to the uterus. For obvious reasons, sleeping on your stomach isn't an option.
- Use pregnancy or support pillows between your bent knees, under your abdomen and behind your back. The pillow between your knees will help align your spine, while the others will support your growing belly and your back. Experiment with pillows of different shapes, sizes and firmness levels to see what works best for you.
- Elevate your head to prevent or decrease heartburn, congestion and snoring. Again with the pillows. But this really does work. Hormones, weight gain and an expanding uterus are responsible for these delightful pregnancy symptoms. Eating smaller, more frequent meals, avoiding heartburn-triggering foods and using saline nasal spray can also help alleviate them.
- Maintain a sleep schedule and, if you need more sleep, nap earlier in the day rather than later. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will help your body know when it's time to sleep.
- Drink most of your water before 6 p.m. to prevent frequent nighttime urination. You should be drinking about 10 eight-ounce glasses of water a day; more if it's hot, humid or you are exercising. Avoiding caffeine late in the day can help you sleep more soundly, too.
- Stay active: Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain, reduce nighttime leg cramps, increase energy and promote deeper sleep. Gentle yoga moves before bed can help you relax and unwind.
- Don't be afraid to use acetaminophen (Tylenol®) if aches and pains are keeping you awake; it's better for your mind and body to ease the pain so you can get the restorative sleep you need. Your baby will be fine and will benefit from a rested, refreshed mom.
- Get a room — a bedroom, that is. Create a dark, quiet oasis for sleeping and sex only, not for working or surfing electronics.
- Chill, literally. Lower the temperature a few degrees. It's easier to sleep in a cooler environment and you're probably running extra hot right now. You might also try one of the gel or memory foam "cool pillows" that are supposed to absorb and dissipate heat. Yes, pillows really are a mommy-to-be's best friend!
Summer Hughes BSN, RNC-Inpatient OB, Director of Women's Services at Medical City Alliance
Summer Hughes is happily married to her wonderful husband Russell and a mother of 2 boys Dawson (17) and Gavin (7). She's been a nurse for nine years in Women's Services. In her free time, she loves scuba diving, reading, spending time with family and traveling.