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Prenatal sleep comfort: How to sleep during your pregnancy

Julie Bielenberg is a Denver-based writer who served as managing editor for a regional home and lifestyle publication before starting Tweeter Communications, her editorial services boutique. With a BA in journalism from the University of...

Sleep during pregnancy

The old wives' tale goes that lack of sleep throughout pregnancy is good preparation for motherhood. But really, all you want is a good night of sleep so when the little bundle of joy does arrive, you're well rested for motherhood.
Get your ZZZs
Pregnant woman asleep

Your mind is racing, you're up all night — will the baby be alright? Is it a boy or girl? Am I ready for the responsibility? The list goes on and on. But, sleep is very important for expectant mothers. Rest now ladies, you need it!

Here are some pointers, products and items to help you get that much-needed sleep that moms-to-be require. Hopefully you will slowly be able to return to "Susie Sunshine" with a comfortable sleep pattern.

Sleep challenges during first trimester

You might find that you spend the greatest amount of time resting during the first three months. Between morning, noon and evening sickness, and your body working double time with the additional hormones, you'll find your bed the equivalent of a chaise lounge in the Hawaiian afternoon sun, umbrella included of course!

However, it's not at all easy to slumber during the first trimester. For example, you're "enjoying" the constant need to pee. You uterus is now growing and pressing against the bladder. Try drinking liquids throughout the day and cutting back before bed. Leave a night light on in the bathroom or make sure to have laundry baskets and dog beds moved out of the way to make midnight trips more of a two- to three-minute experience instead of an Amazing Race-style scramble.

If you can nap whenever you choose, more power to you. If not, try to rest your head on your desk for 20 minutes or so and set an alarm as to not to miss any meetings, calls or appointments. If you have another child at home, try to nap while she rests.

Comfort is also one of the first things you'll miss in early pregnancy. Your sore and tender breasts are preventing your favorite snooze position. Make sure to have adequate pillows and start practicing sleeping on your left side — the sooner you accomplish this, the more good nights of sleep to come. If this means switching sides of the bed, it is only temporary, and well worth the move.

Sleep challenges during the second trimester

Congrats! You are now well on your way, but sleeping is still an issue. It's now time for the body pillow. There are dozens of types of maternity pillows and luckily, most aren't very expensive. From the wedge, to the c-shaped, to the straight body-length pillow, you'll find one that suits your needs. Jump online or pop into Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, Babies 'R' Us or even Sears. Happily, many stores carry this magical wonder.

Sleep challenges during the third trimester

You are in the final stretch, and it really does feel like a marathon it is getting harder and harder the further you go. For women due in the hot summer months, try showering before bed. You can also get your hair wet or soak your feet in cold water to cool off. Light exercise such as walking, swimming or yoga can help you relax during the afternoon and get you ready for bedtime. Many expectant moms in their seventh, eighth and ninth months keep a change of clothes next to the bed, in case they sweat through a top or want to change from shorts to comfy pants during the night.

Sleep tidbits to keep in mind

  1. There is no harm done if you do fall asleep on your back or right side because your body will wake you up to change positions.
  2. Sleeping on your left side improves the flow of blood and nutrients to the placenta and aids your kidneys in eliminating fluids that can cause swelling in your hands, feet and ankles.
  3. Avoid constantly sleeping on your back in the latter part of pregnancy as this puts weight on your spine, intestines and back muscles putting you at risk for backaches, hemorrhoids, indigestion, poor circulation and even impaired breathing.

More on pregnancy and bedtime

Sleep deprivation can lead to preterm labor
Sex and early pregnancy
Pregnancy heartburn: 3 Tips to stop the burn

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