While it’s hard to get good sleep in pregnancy, it’s essential for you and your baby’s health. You’re not alone in seeking satisfying sleep during pregnancy. More than 90 percent of pregnant women report that they have difficulties with sleep during pregnancy. And, although there may not be comfort or better sleep in numbers, pregnant women everywhere can be reassured that they will only have to face these particular sleep challenges for 9 months.

First, prepare for a good night’s sleep:

    • Drink plenty of fluids during the day but nothing two hours before you go to bed to minimize trips to the bathroom during the night.


  • Eat your most substantial meal by midday or eat lightly but often throughout the day. Avoid heavy or spicy foods right before bed. Eliminate or minimize caffeine in your pregnancy and consume it only early in the day. And skip all alcohol and tobacco in pregnancy – they’re harmful to your baby and they interfere with sleep.



Second, take a rest break:

    • A short 30 to 60-minute nap during the day can help maintain your energy level, but avoid daytime napping if you find yourself struggling with insomnia.


  • Whether you nap or not, try to schedule at least one 30-minute rest period on your left side, to maximize your circulation, each afternoon. This becomes especially important as your pregnancy progresses and the amount of blood in your body increases.



  • Reduce swelling in your feet and ankles by resting; let your healthcare provider know of any swelling, especially if you’re also experiencing high blood pressure.



  • Improve your circulation by getting off your feet and lying on your left side, which causes the uterus to shift away from the major blood vessel bringing blood back to your heart from your legs. The more blood coming back to your heart means more blood will be pumped back out to your baby. Improving your circulation will also cause your kidneys to work better and make more urine. This daily rest can also help decrease your trips to the bathroom at night.



Third, pay attention to positioning. Provide your changing body with support by adding pillows behind your back and between your knees when you lie on your left side. Prop a few pillows under your head, especially in the third trimester when your uterus presses up against your diaphragm making breathing harder, so you aren’t lying flat in bed.

Lastly, prepare for and protect your sleep. Make plans for tomorrow early in the evening so you aren’t worrying about details as you try to fall asleep. Make your bedroom a haven for sleep, and remove distractions such as computers or a television. Create a bedtime routine and stick to it. Establishing good sleep habits for yourself will help you promote good habits for your baby throughout her childhood.


Catherine Ruhl, DNP, CNM is editor of Healthy Mom&Baby and a certified nurse-midwife in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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