After the first trimester, many women feel a renewed sense of energy — morning sickness is over (or at least maybe less severe) and exhaustion is replaced with feeling only slightly tired. But somewhere around the 15th week of pregnancy, when it’s no longer comfortable to sleep on your stomach or back, nighttime sleep can become a problem. As your pregnant body grows, you’ll be spending most night sleeping on your side. Extended side sleeping can cause back, shoulder, hip and even ear cartilage pain, all of which causes disruptive sleep and a rough start to your day.
There are things you can do to prepare for a better night’s sleep. Keep in mind, however, that no solution will take you back to pre-pregnancy sleep, nor is it is guaranteed to help at all when it comes to the late third trimester!
Sleeping on your side puts added stress on your shoulder, hips and lower back. Pregnancy pillows aren’t just a “nice to have,” they help provide your body with the support and alignment it needs during pregnancy. The long, cylindrical, U-shaped pillows provide excellent comfort throughout pregnancy. They can be pricey (ranging from $30-$100), but it’s money well spent. Before buying new, ask around to see if a friend would be willing to loan theirs out.
Don’t have a pregnancy pillow? A few extra regular pillows strategically placed can help you achieve the same support and comfort. Optimally, you’ll have one for your head, one for your belly/rib cage, 1-2 between your legs and one to hug. For a visual, check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDTbi4Xb5ec.
Your mattress can also impact how well you sleep — and not just during pregnancy! A firm mattress is not ideal for side sleeping. It’s not practical to go out and purchase a new mattress just for the sake of pregnancy, but a good mattress topper can make a big difference. Many women swear by the “memory foam” style mattress pads. I can personally attest that they are wonderful during pregnancy. The special foam both conforms to and supports just the right spots, leaving you with virtually no aches in the morning.
Pregnancy makes you thirsty. Pregnancy also makes you pee more frequently. Ah, the beauty of it all! Staying hydrated is important for you and your baby’s health during pregnancy. And unfortunately, drinking less in the evening will not necessarily prevent you from waking during the night to urinate. Don’t cut back on liquids, but having your last big drink an hour before bedtime may help.
Adjust Your Bedtime
Pregnant or not, you should be getting a consistent 7-8 hours of sleep per night. But if you’re like many of us, 5-6 hours is more likely the case. Pregnancy is NOT the time to shortchange yourself on sleep! Your body is growing new life (hard work!) and needs adequate time to rest and recover. Sleep deprivation won’t necessarily affect your baby, but it will affect you. Your bedtime is typically one of the few things you can control during pregnancy. Want to know how? Simple math: Subtract 7 or 8 hours from the time you need to be awake. Subtract an additional 45 minutes — 15 minutes for your bedtime hygiene routine and 30 minutes to unwind in bed and fall asleep. This is your new bedtime. Stick with it!
What have you done in your pregnancy to achieve better sleep?