Getting quality sleep during pregnancy is salient for both mother and baby. For the mother, those sleepless nights end up leading to fatigue. Sleep also plays a role in memory, learning, appetite, mood, and decision-making – all important when preparing to welcome a newborn baby into your home.
There are several ways to reduce sleep problems [insomnia] while pregnant. Principal strategies include adjustments to sleeping position and sleep hygiene habits e.g. what you eat before bedtime.
Sleeping on the left side with the legs slightly curled is considered the best sleeping position in pregnancy. This position facilitates blood flow to the heart, kidneys, and uterus, and improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. Although not as optimal as the left side, sleeping on the right side during pregnancy is also acceptable.
It is helpful to use a few extra pillows to get comfortable sleeping on your side, especially if you are not accustomed to this sleeping position. Try tucking in a wedge pillow to support your belly, or adding a thin pillow between the knees to help relieve pressure on the lower back. Some women find it useful to hug a body pillow or place a pillow under the lower back.
As the uterus [your baby] grows bigger, sleeping on the back during pregnancy can cause backache and should be avoided at all cost. Most pregnant women find that sleeping on the stomach is impractical once the baby bump reaches a certain size. Both sleeping positions should be avoided by the mum’s to be as it can be of harm to the baby.
Sleep habit is more important than ever during pregnancy for a strong mother and healthy baby. In addition to pregnancy sleeping aids such as specialized pillows or eye masks, the following habits may help reduce insomnia and improve overall sleep quality:
- Keep a cool, quiet bedroom and limit the bed to sleeping.
- Prioritize sleep and stick to a consistent bedtime, scheduling naps earlier in the day so they don’t interfere with nighttime sleep.
- Read a book, take a bath, or indulge in another calming activity in preparation for bedtime.
- Use a nightlight to make it easier to get back to sleep after bathroom breaks.
- Avoid caffeine, spicy foods, and heavy meals too close to bedtime to reduce the risk of heart burn or in digestion.
- Try to avoid taking phones into the bedroom at sleep time, and turn off screens at least an hour before bed.
- Get regular exercise earlier in the day, this helps your blood flow.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day, but reduce liquid intake before bed to reduce nighttime bathroom breaks.
- If you can’t sleep, you may want to try getting out of bed and do something else like writing down thought in your journal or planning your baby registry until you feel sleepy.
- Seek help from your partner, friends, doctor, or childbirth classes if you’re feeling stressed.
Remember that good sleep and rest habits are paramount for a healthy and strong mother and should not be taken lightly. Getting enough sleep before your baby is born prepares you for the sleepless nights after your baby arrives.