Quality sleep is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. A good night’s rest helps you feel refreshed and supports everything from your body functions to your mood. But when you’re expecting a baby, you may not be sleeping like one. Whether it’s first-trimester midnight bathroom trips, leg cramps at five months pregnant, or the need to deviate from your favorite stomach-sleeping position, getting quality Z’s may sometimes seem like a dream.
Rest easy and try these tips for getting a better night’s sleep in each trimester.
First Trimester Sleep Tips
Now that you’re pregnant, sleep is even more important as your body works hard to support your baby’s growth and development.
Establish good sleep habits
Many expectant moms find sleeping during the first trimester easier than ever. That’s because your body is undergoing significant changes to support your baby’s healthy development, all of which can make you exhausted. Hormonal surges, a blood volume increase, a faster heart pumping, and energy-draining morning sickness can contribute to early pregnancy fatigue.
Now is the ideal time to establish healthy sleep habits, such as:
- Making sleep a priority. Try to take naps and go to bed earlier.
- Putting away your phone and turning off the television before going to bed.
- Practicing stress-reducing techniques, such as meditation or journal writing, if worries tend to keep you awake.
- Creating a sleep-conducive environment, i.e., quiet, dark, cool, and distraction-free.
Up your daytime water intake
While your fatigue may be making you sleepy, the need to urinate may be keeping you up. Frequent urination is common in pregnancy and can last the entire nine months. In the first trimester, it can be connected to hormones. In later months, it can be a result of bladder pressure from your growing baby and uterus.
Since your water intake demands increase during pregnancy—eight to 12 cups a day is recommended—how can you balance your fluid needs with your need to sleep? Here are some tips:
- Drink more water during the day, but try to avoid drinking in the evening and before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks, which can act like diuretics.
- Lean forward as you urinate, which may help you empty your bladder more completely.
- Do Kegel exercises with your doctor’s OK. Kegels strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which can help ease urinary incontinence and can help the muscles prepare for labor.
Calm the queasiness
Morning sickness, the hormone-triggered nausea and vomiting that often occurs during the first trimester, is not limited to the morning. If queasiness is making it hard to sleep, try some of these remedies:
- Eat mini meals throughout the day instead of three larger meals.
- Pass on spicy and greasy foods.
- Keep some crackers on your nightstand to snack on before going to bed and getting up in the morning.
- Ensure your room is at a comfortable, cooler temperature.
- Try sucking on ginger candy or sipping some ginger tea.
- Wear acupressure bands.
Although morning sickness can be uncomfortable, many women typically find some relief around the fourth month of pregnancy.
However, if you find yourself experiencing severe vomiting leading to weight loss, reach out to your healthcare provider. This could potentially indicate a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). HG can result in dehydration and nutrient deficiencies, so it’s essential for your doctor to assess your condition and provide the necessary care to ensure the well-being of both you and your baby.
Second Trimester Sleep Tips
The second trimester is often believed to be the most comfortable of the three. Your morning sickness may be subsiding, you’re sharing your happy news with the world, and you may be experiencing that radiant pregnancy glow. However, your changing body and growing baby may affect your sleep.
Keep heartburn at bay
Feel a burning sensation creeping up from your chest, causing burping and nausea? It’s likely heartburn, and it often kicks in during the later part of your second trimester. Heartburn is a sign of acid reflux, when stomach acid travels up to the esophagus.
Heartburn is common during pregnancy. You can thank those hormones and your expanding baby bump, which puts extra pressure on your stomach and intestines.
Heartburn can be worse while you’re lying down trying to sleep since you don’t have the benefit of gravity to keep the acids from traveling up. A few simple adjustments may provide some reflux relief:
- Elevate your head either with a pillow or by raising the head of your bed.
- Try to avoid eating or drinking within a few hours of bedtime.
- Try your best not to lie down immediately after a meal.
- Eat yogurt, which can settle your stomach.
- Avoid fried, greasy, and spicy foods, citrus fruits, juices, and carbonated drinks.
- Drink between meals instead of with your meals.
- Cut back on caffeine.
If your heartburn is severe, talk to your doctor. Don’t take an antacid or any other medication without their guidance, as some may not be pregnancy-safe.
Alleviate leg cramps
If you’ve ever experienced leg cramps, you know how uncomfortable they can be. Those sudden, painful leg muscle spasms, usually in the calf area, are common during pregnancy. They often start around the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy and frequently strike in the middle of the night. To help prevent them, try the following:
- Stay well-hydrated
- Stretch your calf muscles and take a warm bath before getting into bed
- Wear supportive shoes and compression socks during the day
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
If you do get a leg cramp, the following may help:
- Press your feet against the wall
- Flex your feet
- Apply a heating pad to the muscle, or see if a cool compress works
Third Trimester Sleep Tips
You’re in the home stretch! And while the big day is fast approaching, your bigger belly and some other changes can make sleep a challenge.
Sleep on your left side
Your belly size probably makes sleeping on your stomach close to impossible, and sleeping on your back is not advised because it may contribute to back pain and breathing problems. That leaves the sleep on side (SOS) position, which the American Pregnancy Association recommends as the best because it:
- Provides optimal circulation
- Lessens pressure on internal organs and veins
- Increases blood and nutrient flow to your baby
- May potentially reduce varicose veins in legs and hemorrhoids
Prop those pillows
You may find pillows priceless in helping you get a good night’s rest. Whether you need to elevate your head or support your back and abdomen, pillows are ideal for delivering extra comfort where you need it most. There are plenty of options when it comes to pillows, so be sure to compare pillow shapes, fillings, and fabrics to find the ones that feel right for you.
Pillows can also provide support while breastfeeding, so they can be a worthwhile investment that can be used postpartum as well.
Clear the stuffiness
Some women experience ongoing nasal congestion throughout their pregnancy, characterized by a runny nose, sneezing, and postnasal drip. The congestion can make you feel more tired, and the discomfort may disrupt your sleep.
A humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can help break up the mucus and ease some of the stuffiness. If the congestion worsens and you’re concerned about your breathing, contact your doctor, who may recommend saline drops.
Put yourself first throughout your pregnancy
Quality sleep benefits your and your baby’s health and well-being. Now is the time to pamper yourself and prioritize your needs. Practice self-care by resting as much as possible, minimizing stress, and developing a strong support system of trusted family and friends you can reach out to.
Listen to your body and respect what it’s telling you—if you need a nap or a break, take one. As always, talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns. Understanding what’s going on can help reduce energy-sapping stress and worry.
Your baby will be here before you know it. Establishing healthy sleep habits now can help you once your little one arrives.