The well-being of an expectant mother largely depends on the quality of her sleep. Sleep disturbances are due to physiological changes in the body, such as an increase in body weight, pain in the lumbar and abdominal regions, frequent night-time urination, which also causes emotional stress. In this article, we will explain how to sleep properly during pregnancy, gaining enough energy for the upcoming day.
Preparing for sleep
Before understanding which positions are best for pregnant women to sleep in, it is important to emphasize the rules that promote normalization of sleep:
- Avoid overeating before sleep. To avoid overloading the gastrointestinal tract, it is recommended to have the last meal 3-4 hours before sleep. Light snacks are only permissible if hunger is felt.
- Fresh air in the room. Oxygen is an important component of deep sleep. The bedroom should be ventilated 30-40 minutes before going to bed.
- Drink a relaxing beverage. Herbal teas and smoothies are great for satisfying hunger and having a sedative effect on the nervous system. This beverage should be consumed about an hour before sleep. Coffee is not recommended. This product can cause insomnia.
- Relaxing activities. It is desirable to spend leisure time before sleep engaging in distracting activities, such as listening to music, reading a book or doing handicrafts – hobbies that have a beneficial effect on the emotional state of a pregnant woman.
- Loose sleepwear. Preference should be given to loose shirts or sleepwear that will not constrict the body. It is also important to take care of the material of the garment. Synthetic fabrics disrupt heat exchange and cause discomfort to the body, which is already more sensitive.
Safe sleep positions during pregnancy at different stages
Most expecting mothers wonder whether they can sleep on their stomach during pregnancy. The answer was found in the results of experiments conducted by Western researchers. Dr. Pius Nwabueze-Banks, MD, OB/GYN from Texas, comments on the urgent question: “The results of our experiments prove that any sleeping position for a pregnant woman does not have a negative impact on the fetus during the first seven months. However, after 28 weeks of pregnancy, there may be risks associated with lying on the back and in a side position. Therefore, sleeping on the stomach is considered one of the acceptable positions.”
Based on research by Western experts, let’s highlight the main comfortable sleep positions at different stages of pregnancy.
How to sleep in the first trimester
We should reiterate that there are no restrictions on how a pregnant woman should sleep in the early stages. It is extremely important to follow recommendations for preparing for rest to ensure a comfortable sleep. Typically, at this stage, pregnancy does not cause sleep disturbances, which can be explained by the small size of the fetus. Discomfort may only be caused by breast tenderness, so it is desirable for the breasts not to touch the surface of the bed if such a physiological feature is observed.
How to sleep in the second trimester
The second trimester of pregnancy is characterized by the gradual growth of the fetus in the uterus and the increasing size of the uterus in the woman. Due to these physiological changes, women typically avoid sleeping on their stomachs. To specifically answer the question of how to sleep correctly for pregnant women in the middle of pregnancy, we turned to the work of a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Professor Alan Lindemann of the University of North Dakota. The doctor explains the peculiarity of how to sleep on your side during pregnancy: “In the second trimester, you should balance between your side and your back. By taking such a borderline position, you do not exert pressure on the main blood vessels, which can limit blood flow to the baby.”
How to sleep in the third trimester
The final trimester is the most difficult from a physiological and emotional point of view: frequent edema and the large size of the fetus prompt the pregnant woman to seek the optimal position for comfortable sleep. Most expectant mothers find an alternative by choosing a position on their back.
However, researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand conducted studies on the subject of sleep for pregnant women lying on their back. The project leader, Dr. Peter Stone, recruited 29 women in the third trimester of pregnancy for the experiment. Future mothers changed positions every 30 minutes. At the end of the experiment, it turned out that it was the position on the back that changed the frequency of the baby’s heart contractions. They explained this fact by compression of the main blood vessels, which does not allow oxygen to reach the fetus in full and in some cases can even lead to its death. Fortunately, all the babies of the mothers who participated in the experiment were born healthy.
The team published their results in “The Journal of Physiology,” which recommends the correct sleeping position during pregnancy as being on the left side.
How much sleep is recommended for pregnant women?
The amount of sleep necessary for a pregnant woman can vary depending on individual body characteristics. According to common recommendations, pregnant women should get at least 8 hours of sleep per day. An afternoon nap is not excessive for an expectant mother, as her body is expending energy not only on herself but also on the baby. In order to quickly regain strength, she should understand which sleeping position is most comfortable for her during pregnancy.
Quality sleep is not only essential for maternal well-being but also for proper fetal development. We have provided you with general guidelines on how best to sleep for pregnant women in early and late stages of pregnancy. However, it is not recommended to ignore the advice of a doctor who takes into account the physiological characteristics of the mother and the nuances of fetal development.