Some of our Morning Mummy Community (MMC) were interested in what sleeping issues can occur when you are pregnant.
A range of questions were raised: Will it hurt my baby if I sleep on my side? Should I sleep on my back? I can’t get to sleep, Do I sleep too much? How should I sleep by trimester?
Let’s delve into answers to these questions and share our findings with each other – I will mention best practice and provide some suggestions that may help as you go along in your pregnancy journey.
Here are the top 5 Questions and Answers:
Will I hurt my baby if I sleep on my side?According to Healthline(ref 1) Doctors usually recommend sleeping on your side. Positioning yourself on the left side allows for optimal blood flow from your heart to your baby. However, if you are more comfortable on your right side that is OK too.
Should I sleep on my back?
Sleeping on your back is generally safe during your first trimester however as you grow you may find sleeping on your side more comfortable. Sleeping on your back can contribute to heartburn, back pain and hemorrhoids. If you start the night on your side and find yourself rolling onto your back you may want to support yourself with a wedge pillow tucked into your back, so if you roll backwards you will be supported at good angle for blood flow. Our wedge pillow can be found here:
I can't get to sleep..Insomnia is quite common when pregnant – whether its racing thoughts, growing pains or pressure on your bladder – you may find yourself having trouble getting to sleep or waking frequently in the night. The answer is to ensure your “sleep hygiene” routine is as good as you can make it.
Examples of good sleep hygiene are:
Go to bed at the same time every night.
Practice a guided relaxation meditation – I love this one from Jeanette at Kokoro Studio – you can find it here:
Avoid drinking too much before going to sleep.
Don’t eat to late at night if you can help it.
Keep an eye on not too much spicy or rich food.
However, If your tummy is queasy try and settle it with nibbling on a cracker, drink some lemonade, suck on a boiled sweet – see our bestselling sweet here:
And you’ve heard it before but try and stay off your devices – the backlit screens play havoc with settling your brain.
Can I sleep too much?
Anywhere between 7-10 hours a night is perfect. However you are growing a tiny human so if you need to nap – go for it – this can be hard when working full time. So if you feel fatigued at work ask for a foot stool to take some pressure off, pop out for a short stroll in the sunlight (Vitamin D) or if the fatigue persists you may be able to ask for part time hours for a wee while. If the fatigue persists or you are worried please talk to your midwife or doctor.
Sleep ideas by trimester:
Sleeping in any position is generally fine during the early months. But if you want to get into the habit of favouring your side, try simply slipping a pillow between your legs. This may ease discomfort in your hips and lower body as you adjust.
And if you want to be a little, well, extra, you could consider getting popping a small pillow under your knees to make a small inversion which can be more comfortable.
Some of the reasons newly pregnant mums start to sleep less are:
- Nausea – try sucking on ginger lollies or boiled sweets
- Vomiting – as above
- Reflux – extra pressure on your tummy may cause your digestive system to put pressure on the stomach area – eat small and often – ginger helps here too
- Breast tenderness – ensure you have a supportive bra and consider sleeping in a cotton bra
- Increased heart rate – normal as your body is working a bit harder to grow your baby
- Shortness of breath – also common as baby often presses on your lungs
- Higher body temperature – hormones changing will often make you hotter
- Frequent nighttime urination – baby growing often puts pressure on your bladder – so completely normal
- Leg cramps – also common and can happen with excess estrogen or a lack of folic acid or iron – keep up the supplements
Unfortunately, these reasons may continue throughout the whole pregnancy so its good to have an arsenal of ideas to try when they occur. And everyone has a different pregnancy story to tell so it’s a bit of trial and error.
As your belly grows, you’ll want to make sure your mattress is somewhat firm so your back doesn’t sag. If yours is too soft, you might consider slipping a board between your mattress and box spring.
You may also want to look into pregnancy pillows. They come in U or C shapes and wrap around your entire body to help with side sleeping. You position the pillow so that it runs along your back and then hug the front while simultaneously slipping it between your knees. Morning Mummy currently only has wedge pillow but we are looking in to sourcing the U and C pillows.
Continue using a pregnancy pillow for support. If you find them a bit cumbersome with your growing belly, investigate wedge pillows. You can stick them under your belly and behind your back to keep yourself from rolling.
If you simply can’t get used to sleeping on your side, try using pillows to prop your upper body at a 45-degree angle. This way, you’re not flat on your back and you take the compression off your heart. Alternatively, you can try elevating the head of your bed a couple inches with books or blocks.
If lack of sleep continues to bother you, talk to your doctor or midwife.