How to Stay Healthy During Pregnancy: Sleep
by Grace Cooper
Birthright of Pittsburgh Volunteer
Many women experience increased fatigue as their body changes during pregnancy. Because of these changes, it is more important than ever for women to get a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, pregnancy is not comfortable, so it’s common to develop sleep issues throughout those nine months. Here are some tips for sleeping well during pregnancy so you can be well rested for when the baby is born.
Problems with sleep during pregnancy
There are a lot of underlying issues that can prevent pregnant women from sleeping. Some common issues are heartburn, leg cramps, congestion, and nausea. Although they are common, if these issue persist let your doctor know what’s going on in case you’re experiencing symptoms of a larger problem. On a more serious note, some pregnant women develop a disorder called Sleep Apnea. This basically means the woman has trouble breathing while asleep and may even wake up suddenly when unable to breathe—a common symptom of this is when women start snoring during pregnancy. If this starts occurring, it’s important to contact your doctor because Sleep Apnea can be a result of other issues during pregnancy that need to be resolved.
If nothing else, most women experience a general discomfort during pregnancy. As the baby is growing and pressing against the different organs and muscles in the abdomen, the simple act of lying down can be painful. For women who usually sleep on their stomach or back, pregnancy may disrupt sleep by forcing them to switch positions to lying on their sides, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. Health experts recommend sleeping on the left side to improve circulation for both you and the baby during sleep. Pillows are a pregnant women’s best friend when it comes to changing sleeping positions. Many women like to use large body pillows for behind their back, between their knees, or under their chest to make them comfortable and keep them from rolling over in the night.
How to get better sleep
It’s not recommended that pregnant women using sleeping pills or any over the counter sleep aids during pregnancy, but there are many non-medicated sleep solutions that may help. Exercise is a great treatment for women, whether pregnant or not, to prepare their bodies for rest. When exercising during pregnancy, it’s especially important to establish a regular fitness routine that takes place early in the day. Just like exercise, pregnant women need to have a regular sleep schedule to make sure they get as much sleep as they can before the baby comes.
Additionally, eating a clean and nutrient-filled diet can relieve a lot of stomach discomfort and nausea that pregnant women often feel. For women who experience heartburn while lying down and trying to sleep, experts recommend propping your head up or keeping antacid tablets nearby. Another common issue, congestion, impairs breathing for pregnant women, especially when lying down. To prevent this, elevate your head while sleeping and try to keep other supplies, such as nasal spray or strips and a humidifier, on hand. Frequent urination is another issue for pregnant women, particularly in those last few months. Although it’s important to stay hydrated, drinking fluids right before bed is not a good idea unless you want to take several trips to the bathroom during the night.
At the end of the day, relaxing sleep techniques are great for improving sleep quality whether you’re pregnant or not. Try to relax, take deep breaths, and make sure the bedroom is quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature. If sleep problems persist, check with your doctor for advice on how to sleep well during pregnancy.
About the Author
Grace is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Nonfiction Writing and Psychology.