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As if preparing your birth plan, hospital bag and the nursery weren’t enough, you also need to think about your sleep during pregnancy – both in terms of its quality and duration. Now that you are pregnant the importance of getting decent rest cannot be overstated, and this goes well beyond the “get sleep while you can” mentality that seems to assume all expectant mothers are able to sleep like, well, babies, while all new mothers struggle with their newborn’s sleeping patterns or lack thereof. Unfortunately it’s been shown that poor sleep in pregnancy can lead to elevated blood pressure and increased risk of preeclampsia, that pregnant women who slept more than six hours per night were less likely to experience a longer labor or undergo a C-section than mothers-to-be who didn’t and that decent sleep in general is proven to aid a healthy immune system, stave off depression and reduce the risk of birth complications. You’ve probably heard this so-called information before, but it’s important to get the facts right now you’re sleeping for two.
If you are used to sleeping on your back – you may find it uncomfortable long before your stomach starts to grow thanks to the pregnancy hormones oestrogen and relaxin that surge through your body and make everything more relaxed and flexible, causing some women back pain before the first trimester is over.
In the unlikely event that lying on your back remains comfortable to you throughout the trimesters, know that it is not recommended in later months when the growing weight of your uterus can press down on the vena cava, the main vein that carries blood to the heart.
If you are used to sleeping on your front – for fairly obvious reasons, and unless you are in possession of a pregnancy massage table or perhaps an Earthlite Pregnancy Cushion, this will become more and more impossible to keep up unless you have a lot of surround support.
Some expectant mothers find that they cannot sleep any other way than on their front while pregnant and will make a “bump nest” using lots of cushions or a full body maternity pillow folded into shape. If you are used to sleeping sat upright – or even if you’re not, you may want to keep this position in mind during the next few months.
If you are used to sleeping on your side – you’re already halfway to finding the best sleeping position for pregnant women.
In practice, you are likely to turn back and forth on your right and left sides, and that’s perfectly OK – just try to sleep on your left side when you can. Finding a comfortable night’s rest can be really challenging when you’re pregnant, particularly now your sleeping position has changed.
You could try surrounding yourself with conventional pillows, placing them behind the back, under the bump and between the knees for full body support (with an extra one or two beneath your head, so basically all the pillows in your house will end up underneath you).
A maternity pillow can be anything from a simple wedge that props up your bump to a full-on body hugger longer than you are tall. At a time when you’re probably more tired than you’ve ever felt before and also in genuine need of a decent rest, it’s ironic that being pregnant could get in the way of a good night’s sleep, but it often does both literally (when your bump just won’t let you lie down comfortably in your favourite position) and figuratively. If you cannot sleep, feel too tired to function or find that insomnia or discomfort is causing you severe anxiety, please do not hesitate to bring it up with your doctor. Best Foods for Pregnant Women Those cravings may have some say in your pregnancy diet, but you should also add these eats to your menu — they're good for your growing baby and will fill your growing belly.
Kitchen Staples for Pregnant Women ChecklistYour pregnancy diet is only as healthy as the food you keep in the kitchen. Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy SlideshowGet the lowdown on what's off limits when you're eating for two — including safe options you can swap into your diet (hello, mocktails). Pregnancy Weight Gain: How Much, How SoonThink the first trimester is the best time for putting on those pregnancy pounds? What to Eat During Pregnancy VideoFrom weight gain to what to eat to ease morning sickness, the mom who wrote the book (that's right, Heidi Murkoff herself) shares her expert advice for eating while you're expecting in this video.

What Kind of Expectant Eater Are You?Eating healthy can be a challenge when you have a bun in the oven and cravings galore. Good nutrition will help your baby grow big and strong — and hit major milestones along the way. The material on this website is provided for educational purposes only and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, or in place of therapy or medical care. This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you.
But what can you do to achieve the optimal levels of sleep, and why is it so crucial anyway? Neither is true, and a 1998 poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 78% of women suffered more disturbed sleep while pregnant that at any other time during their lives – which is hardly surprising, given the many changes our bodies are about to undergo. In other words, decent sleep in pregnancy goes a lot further than a quick rest top-up before baby arrives and it’s crucial that you pull out all the stops to achieve it for everyone’s sake. The more we stress about the good rest we’re not getting, the more the situation can spiral (and of course, like many medications, sleeping pills are a big no-no without your doctor’s explicit consent).
As many pregnant women suffer from insomnia, it’s important to know how the condition is actually characterized for diagnosis. There’s a hundred different things on your ‘To Do’ list, and suddenly you can’t seem to stop worrying about the birth. It can also, at times, feel like your baby has taken over every aspect of your life before he or she is even born. Later, of course, lying on your back could make you feel as if some round and heavy object were sitting on your stomach all night – which is hardly conducive to a relaxing slumber! Pressure on this vein may cause you to feel faint and the blood pressure to drop (although for some women it can also make the blood pressure go up).
Many women find that although they go to sleep in a different position, they wake up on their backs during the night. Even in early pregnancy it may prove difficult – as many women will experience sore breasts as an early symptom.
It’s not the optimal sleep position for pregnancy and could get hot in summer, but as long as no additional pressure is exerted on the uterus it shouldn’t put your baby at risk to lie on your front. Expectant mothers with heartburn or snoring issues may find it useful to prop themselves up with a maternity pillow during the night; in the final trimester it could also help women experiencing shortness of breath. Although it’s less important than staying off your back, the most superior sidelying position of all is to lay on your left side: this promotes optimal blood flow and the flow of nutrients to the placenta.
However you used to sleep before, the increased weight and strain on your body is probably going to affect your acquired habits, but even the optimal sleep position recommended by doctors isn’t always comfortable without a little help.
In the middle of the night when you turn over, you can then try readjusting them all to fit – or alternatively, you could avoid all the fuss and buy yourself (or ask for the gift of) a maternity pillow. Full body pregnancy pillows may take up a lot of room in the bed, but they don’t cost as much as all the regular pillows you were using and the right one won’t need constant readjustment to support you in the optimal sleep position, cradling the bump, neck and back while keeping pressure off the pelvis and hips.

Insomnia is not uncommon, nor is anxiety and a host of other non-threatening conditions like piles which can cause severe discomfort and problems getting rest. Many of us will also experience piles, disturbing or vivid dreams, insomnia caused by discomfort or anxiety, increasingly frequent visits to the bathroom, snoring and sleep apnoea, and all of these conditions can affect the quality and duration of our sleep. Although snoring is harmless in most cases (apart from the harm being done to your partner’s sleep and sanity, of course) in others it could be a sign of sleep apnoea, which is characterized by pauses in breathing, can be very dangerous and has been linked to cardiovascular disease. Lying awake in bed is only one of the four symptoms: the others include waking too early, frequent re-awakenings and not waking up feeling refreshed. While it may seem counter-productive, getting out of bed and doing something relaxing until you are ready to return may see you slumbering sooner than if you had just stayed there gnashing your teeth.
Take sleeping positions, for example: you used to sleep however you wanted to but now, your growing discomfort and the practicalities of an expanding bump (not to mention the advice of your doctor or midwife) dictate even this simple choice.
Sleeping on your back has also been associated with snoring and sleep apnoea, and could even increase your risk of suffering from haemorrhoids (piles). Plus, if you plan to breastfeed you may end up in this position more often than you would ever expect, so it’s worth getting it fully comfortable and supportive now for the sake of your back! It also helps with the elimination of waste products from the body, decreasing potential swelling in your legs, ankles, hands and feet. A good supportive pregnancy pillow can also help to keep you lying on your left side (as well as continuing to support you when you turn over to the right), allowing you to get on with the important stuff: resting! Improving your sleeping conditions can certainly help, as could developing a sleep routine.
Getting the right nutrients when you're an expectant mama packs a double punch — you'll have a safer, more comfortable pregnancy and your baby gets a healthier start in life. For pregnant women, sleep apnoea has also been associated with such complications as low birth weight, gestational hypertension and preeclampsia – so if you are snoring excessively, ask your doctor. If you’re awake due to discomfort, you might want to consider a different sleeping position or sleep support aid like a pregnancy pillow as well. Anything with the potential to interfere with blood circulation is hardly good news for baby, so it is advisable that you avoid lying on your back if you can help it.
You probably woke for precisely this reason, and no harm will have come to you or baby in such a short time.
As simple as it sounds, working out how to lie down comfortably while pregnant can take a little work – as everybody is different, you may need to tweak positions and support devices until they work for you. While fatigue is a very common symptom of pregnancy, please don’t ignore excessive feelings of exhaustion.

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