Take a look at each week of your pregnancy, from conception to birth, with our comprehensive email newsletters.
Getting a good night’s sleep during your pregnancy may be increasingly hard to achieve as your body works towards preparation for childbirth. Being able to get enough rest and sleep will be an essential part of your pregnancy. It could seem strange that when your body needs it most, sleep is not easy to come by. Trying to find an ideal, safe sleeping position and adjusting to the changes of each trimester can often be a challenge. As your tummy gets bigger, you’ll find it’s harder to find a comfortable sleeping position. And your baby’s movements may also impact on your ability to relax.
During the first trimester of your pregnancy, you may discover that you are sleeping more than usual as your body works to nurture your developing baby. This could mean not having a good night’s sleep every night and feeling sleep deprived. Pressure from your growing uterus may also cause you to make countless trips to the bathroom during the night.
As nausea and fatigue subsides, the second trimester can be a good time to set a routine of going to bed and waking up at around the same time each day. This ‘sleep-hygiene’ can also help to establish a pattern in preparation for the third trimester.
Many pregnant women find that they have the most trouble getting uninterrupted sleep during the latter stages of their pregnancy. As the growing baby increases in size, it is often harder to find a comfortable sleeping position.
Many pregnant women also report having vivid dreams, especially in the last trimester. These dreams can be related to changing hormonal levels and stress. Dreams are completely normal, often occurring just before waking up. Sometimes dreams can reflect concerns about the adjustments to parenthood which will need to be made.
Although it is common for pregnant women to experience interrupted sleep during the night, there are some options when it comes to getting as much sleep as possible. And to make sure that their sleeping position is the safest possible.
Current research supports the recommendation that pregnant women sleep on their side from 28 weeks onwards. Back sleeping can place pressure on the major blood vessels which supply blood to the uterus and oxygen to the baby.
Either side is considered to be fine, what’s important is that back sleeping is avoided. You may find one side is more comfortable than the other.
Experiment with using pillows to find comfortable sleeping positions. Try using a body pillow to support your top leg, or a rolled-up blanket under your belly to relieve pressure off your lower back.
When you are sitting up from laying down, remember to push up with your arms. This will help to prevent extra pressure on your abdominal muscles.
It may help to know what is affecting your sleep and work towards changing what you can. Introducing small changes could help your body to adapt to a different sleeping pattern as it changes through each trimester.
There are bound to be nights where you just can’t fall asleep. Instead of worrying about not getting enough rest, try occupying the time with something you enjoy, like reading a book or listening to music.
This article has been written and edited by Jane Barry, midwife and child health nurse on 11/05/2021