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Pregnant woman asleep

Getting a good night’s rest when you’re pregnant isn’t always easy, particularly in the last trimester. We tackle some common causes of lack of sleep.

Pregnancy sleeping positions

Perhaps the biggest challenge when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep is finding a comfortable position in bed, particularly as your baby gets bigger. Sleeping on your front becomes increasingly difficult as your pregnancy progresses. Lying on your back in later pregnancy can put pressure on your vena cava, the large vein that transports blood from your lower body to your heart, making you feel light-headed while lying down or getting up. Many doctors recommend lying on the left side of your body with your knees bent, as it’s comfortable and stops your baby’s weight putting pressure on your internal organs.

Sleep tips:

  • Buy a pregnancy pillow designed to support you. Or put an ordinary pillow under your bump and between your knees.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night so your body begins to expect sleep.
  • In your third trimester, try wearing a sleep bra and a maternity belt to give you extra support.
  • Unwind with a warm, milky drink or relaxing bath before bed.
  • Clear your mind of any niggles. If you can’t sleep, don’t clock watch – read a book or magazine until you feel drowsy.

Cramps, aches and pains

Leg and arm cramps are common in later pregnancy and can strike when you’re asleep. Cramp may mean you’re dehydrated, so drink plenty of water during the day. Simple exercises can help with other aches and pains, so try some gentle stretches before bed.

Sleep tips:

  • Keep moving during the day to stretch your legs and get your blood flowing.
  • Ask your partner to soothe aching joints with a massage.
  • Milk and sparkling water are both good for indigestion. Keep a glass by your bed.
  • Avoid eating large meals, instead eat little and often and try not to eat and drink at the same time.
  • Chew gum. The saliva produced helps neutralise stomach acid and prevent heartburn.

Trips to the loo

As your baby grows, the pressure on your bladder increases, meaning you may need to wee a lot more, particularly at night.

Sleep tips:

  • Avoid food and drink containing caffeine and reduce the amount you drink an hour before you go to bed, but still drink plenty of water during the day to prevent dehydration.
  • When you get to the loo, lean forward as much as your bump will allow, so you can empty your bladder completely.
  • If you normally sleep on the side of the bed furthest from the bathroom, switch with your partner so you’re able to get up with minimum effort.

Bizarre dreams during pregnancy

Many women experience vivid or odd dreams while pregnant. There could be many reasons for this, including the emotional and physical changes of pregnancy and the increased presence of the hormone oestrogen – thought to cause longer, sustained dream-like sleep.

Sleep tips:

  • If you have a dream that frightens you, try not to read any meaning into it.
  • Tell your partner or a friend so they can reassure you.
  • Write it down to help you put it into perspective.

Can’t get comfy at bedtime? Lie on your left side with your knees bent – it will help take the weight of your baby off your internal organs.

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