Sleepless during Pregnancy Tips to find Sleep

What did you feel when you held the positive pregnancy test in your hand? Excitement, happiness, joy, maybe insecurity? A complete jumble of feelings usually overwhelms us women at this moment. It's the start of one of the most exciting times of your life. What you may have guessed at this moment - at least when you are pregnant for the first time - is that as your body performs incredibly in the next 40 weeks and is running at full speed, a pregnancy unfortunately also brings one or two ailments with it. The vast majority of expectant moms are plagued with sleep issues during pregnancy. Even though you will always be told how important it is to get enough and, above all, restful sleep, this is easier said than done. The reasons for sleep issues can be quite different, but especially in the last trimester sleep is usually a challenge.

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Why many women cannot sleep during pregnancy

Although there are many pregnant women who can still easily fall- and remain asleep in the first trimester, many expectant mothers already experience restless nights in the first weeks of pregnancy. This can be due to various reasons. If you are expecting your first baby, maybe your thoughts are on a merry-go-round: Will everything go well? How do I tell my employer? What else do I have to organize in the near future? These and more questions buzz around many women’s minds and keep them from falling asleep. The hormonal changes, nausea or pain are other culprits that can make sure you are no longer able to sleep or have a lower quality of sleep.

Sleeping during pregnancy – A nursing pillow helps. Source: ambrozinio/

The further pregnancy progresses, the sooner sleep can become a real challenge: the increasing volume of your baby belly makes getting into a comfortable position more and more difficult. The intervals in which you need to go to the toilet are getting shorter and shorter. Gradually you may also be bothered by one or two physical ailments. In addition, babies prefer to become active when mom comes to rest – in the evening and at night. And of course, the nocturnal gymnastics of your unborn child can also keep you from sleeping.

What can help you to reduce sleep problems during pregnancy

Even if some complaints are difficult or impossible to avoid, there are a few tips you can use to help you get as much sleep as possible:

  • Hydrating is important, of course. In order to minimize night-time use of the toilet, you should drink most of the fluid before and after noon, and then drink less in the evening.
  • You should reduce the consumption of caffeinated drinks such as coke, coffee and black tea, as they stimulate the body and circulation.
  • In general, a lot of exercise during the day promotes fatigue – but not when it is too late in the evening! Your metabolism, circulation and nervous system need at least two hours to wind down and come to rest- otherwise exercise ends up preventing falling asleep.
  • Eating too late and eating greasy meals keeps the stomach active and can make it difficult to fall asleep. Therefore, you should eat your last meal or snack at least two hours before going to bed.
  • To soothe the body and slow down its operating mode, a relaxing bath in the evening can help. Likewise valerian-, lavender- or lemon balm tea have a calming effect. Not a tea drinker? Warm milk with honey can also do the trick.
  • A nursing pillow can help you find a comfortable position. The right sleeping position can make all the difference – especially if you are unsure where to place the growing belly.

Tip: Make sure to drink lots of fluid during pregnancy. Source: Andor Bujdoso/

The perfect sleeping position during pregnancy

The sleeping position you choose is especially important during pregnancy, because generally most people get into a preferred position to fall asleep. If you’re a side sleeper anyway, this topic will probably concern you a little less in pregnancy than belly- and back sleepers. Both the belly- and the back sleeping positions become problematic for expectant moms with increasing abdominal size. In addition, sleeping on your back means a lot of weight and pressure on the superior vena cava, a major vein found to the right of the spine, and should thus be avoided. The superior vena cava is a vein trunk responsible for your blood and oxygen supply as well as that of your baby. If it is compressed or the blood flow interrupted, your own circulation and your baby’s heartbeat may be badly affected.

Well-rested during pregnancy- all thanks to the correct sleeping position! Source: dolgachov/

Sleeping on your side is therefore advised – in fact, especially in pregnancy, the left side is optimal because the spine does not sag due to the weight of the abdomen and there is no pressure on the large vena cava. Beyond that, you can get yourself a useful helper and ally: a nursing pillow. By laying down an arm, a leg and a head on it, you can assume a natural lateral position. In this position you not only relieve the spine, but in principle the entire body. Without nursing pillows, the lateral position can lead to tension. The nursing pillow provides support. Without this support, your body would need to take on an unnatural tension in the muscles to stabilize itself in order not to tip over while sleeping. Your nursing pillow is an absolute comfort factor, but it also helps you to prevent back and limb pain and tension.

What your sleep during pregnancy has to do with the postpartum period

Last but not least, mother nature has a confession to make: the nocturnal restlessness and the deprivation of sleep that torments your nerves has been consciously set up this way. These irregularities prepare you for the first weeks with your newly born baby, for example when you have to get up several times a night for breastfeeding or feeding, or because of other adjustment problems. Especially when the nights are shorter and not so relaxing, you should take special note of the following tip: during the day, when your baby is also sleeping, seize every opportunity to also take short naps or breaks. You will be amazed at how much energy you can refuel by doing so, because 10 to 15 minutes are just enough for the body to recharge its batteries a bit. After all, you need enough energy for everyday life with your baby. On the one hand, your mini-me demands a lot of attention and closeness when awake. On the other hand, especially when you are resting, you will notice how much of your energy is consumed, and the thirst and hunger it triggers. Even if this time is exhausting and nothing seems to help: try to think positively. Sometime in the foreseeable future you will sleep through an entire night again, promise!

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