Last week, we discussed the importance of sleep and its benefits during pregnancy. This week, we are continuing our discussion about sleep during your unplanned pregnancy. Let’s break down what causes lack of sleep during pregnancy, sleeping positions to avoid and tips for better sleep.
Lack of Sleep
There are many reasons why you may not be able to sleep during your pregnancy! Here are just a few:
- The increasing size of your growing stomach
- Physical discomfort, such as tenderness in your breasts and back pain
- Fetal movement
- Shortness of breath
- Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
- Sleep apnea
- GERD (acid reflux)
- Frequent urination
- Nausea and vomiting due to morning sickness
- Anxiety about labor and delivery
- Irregular uterine contractions
What You Should Avoid
When it comes to getting adequate sleep during your pregnancy and ensuring the health of both you and your baby, you should try and avoid sleeping on your back as much as possible.
Sleeping on your back has been known to cause the following issues: backaches, digestive and breathing problems, hemorrhoids, low blood pressure and a decrease in circulation. When your abdomen is, essentially, resting on your intestines and major blood vessels, this puts extra weight on your uterus and spine. This position can also cause you overall discomfort, which is why doctors recommend that you avoid sleeping on your back while pregnant.
The best sleep position during pregnancy is on your side – your left side in particular, as it provides optimal blood flow to your heart, baby, kidneys and uterus. It also helps your digestion. If you wake up on your back, don’t worry. Our bodies naturally shift in our sleep. When you go to bed, though, shift to your left side and your body will learn as time progresses.
Tips for Better Sleep
There are a copious amount of tips and good habits out there to achieve better sleep; however, Adoption Choices of Colorado has searched high and low to provide you with a compiled list of the best ones. Here are 17 of the most recommended tips for better sleep during your pregnancy:
- Sleeping on your left side with knees bent – this improves blood flow. Try using several pillows under your back, between your knees and under your abdomen for support. The American Pregnancy Association recommends the Slumbar Bump Pregnancy Pillow.
- Prop up your upper body – helps with heartburn or snoring.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals – avoid large amounts of spicy, acidic or fried foods in order to avoid heartburn.
- Use nightlights – bright lights can make it harder for you to fall back asleep. Especially if you are getting up to go to the bathroom.
- Be consistent with your sleep schedule – go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Prioritize sleep
- Keep active – regular physical activity during pregnancy can help you fall asleep more easily. Do not exercise at bedtime.
- Keep daytime naps short
- Don’t force sleep – if you are unable to sleep, get up and read a book. Knit or crochet something for your baby. Write in a journal or take a warm bath.
- Don’t watch the clock
- Cut out caffeinated drinks – keep soda, coffee and tea from your diet as much as possible. Restrict any intake of them to the morning or early afternoon.
- Avoid drinking a lot of fluids or eating a full meal within a few hours of going to bed – this helps avoid fewer trips to the bathroom. However, make sure that you also get plenty of nutrients and liquids throughout the day. Some women find it helpful to eat more at breakfast and lunch and then have a smaller dinner. If nausea is keeping you up, try eating a few crackers before going to bed.
- Stretch before you sleep – decreases the likelihood of being awoken from leg cramps. Taking enough magnesium and calcium can help with this, too. As always, though, consult with your doctor first.
- Take a yoga class or learn relaxation or breathing techniques – can help you unwind after a busy day. Be sure to discuss any new activity or fitness regimen with your doctor first.
- Enroll in a childbirth or parenting class – if fear and anxiety are keeping you awake, more knowledge and the company of other pregnant women may help to ease your stress.
- Set the mood – a dark, quiet and relaxing environment and a comfortable temperature helps encourage optimal sleep.
- Remove electronic devices from your bedroom
Questions for Your Doctor
As always, if you ever have any questions or concerns, be sure to consult with your doctor. He or she will always have the best advice and be sure to provide the best ways to proceed when handling nutrition, exercise and sleep during your pregnancy. Here are a few questions to ask your healthcare provider when it comes to sleep when you are pregnant:
- How can I get through my day when I’m tired all the time?
- Is there anything I can take for heartburn?
- Does exercise improve sleep quality?
- Is it normal to snore during pregnancy?
- Are there over-the-counter sleep medications or supplements that are okay to use during pregnancy?
- Are there foods I should or should not eat that will help me sleep better?
- Is there such a thing as too much sleep and does that cause Pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure)?
- Are there anxiety medications that are okay to use during pregnancy?
Sleeping during Your Unplanned Pregnancy
As you continue your pregnancy journey, remember that nutrition, safe exercise and proper sleep are paramount to a happy and healthy pregnancy. They are each entwined as you and you cannot have one without the other. So, if you need tips and tricks regarding nutrition or exercise, be sure to look back at our past blogs!
A big part of this journey is remembering that you are never alone. Adoption Choices of Colorado is always here to provide ample tips, tricks and solutions in any form of support or resource you might need during this time.
Adoption Choices of Colorado
Adoption Choices, Inc. is a private, non-profit adoption agency licensed by the state and leader in the adoption community. We have been assisting birth parents, children, and adoptive parents in Colorado since 2002. Our staff has a genuine commitment to providing an empathetic, empowering, and progressive experience to all involved in the adoption process. For more information on adoption please contact Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can be reached via our website or phone 303-670-4401.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Taylor Tsakopulos, the bestselling student. She has interned locally in Denver and internationally in Dublin, Ireland, taken classes/workshops and worked odd jobs and yet always comes back to being a student and the desire to learn or create.
When she isn’t creating content she’s off dancing and hiking. Always chasing after new things and experiences. After living and working in Europe, she is hungry for more.
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