Pregnancy and Sleep: A Contradiction in Terms?
First Trimester (Months 1-3)
- Frequent urination —This is because your body produces 30%-50% more blood while you are pregnant, and your kidneys need to work harder to filter the additional volume. Also, as your baby grows, there is increased pressure on your bladder, causing you to need to go more frequently.
- Napping —While progesterone makes you sleepy, it can also disrupt your sleep, leaving you feeling more fatigued during the day. So, indulge your busy body and take catnaps whenever you feel the need.
- Getting comfortable —Always been a stomach sleeper? Tender breasts during your first trimester may make you reconsider. If possible, try learning to sleep on your left side. This allows maximum blood flow to the fetus, improves kidney flow, helps reduce swelling, and reduces the amount of pressure on your liver. Another reason to avoid sleeping on your stomach is to avoid putting pressure on the fetus.
Second Trimester (Months 4-6)
Third Trimester (Months 7-9)
- Frequent urination —It’s back. Your baby is growing, as is the pressure on your bladder, requiring you to run for the bathroom once again.
- Leg cramps and backache —Aches and cramps in your back and legs are often the results of the extra weight you are carrying.
- Shortness of breath —Your growing baby may also increase pressure against your diaphragm. This may cause you to feel slightly short of breath, and therefore uncomfortable when you are trying to sleep.
- Heartburn —Many women experience heartburn during pregnancy.
- Dreams —Some women experience very vivid dreams, even nightmares during their pregnancy.
- Stress —Stress (of course) can interfere with sleep as well. If you are feeling worried about your baby’s health, or the changes having a baby will bring to your life, remember that these feelings are completely normal.
- Snoring/sinus congestion —Many women who have never snored before may begin doing so at some time during their pregnancy. This is the result of increased congestion/swelling in the nasal passages. If you develop symptoms of sleep apnea (loud snoring and periods of stopped breathing during sleep), you should talk with your doctor.
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS) —Some women may develop restless leg syndrome (RLS) during their third trimester of pregnancy. Symptoms of RLS include crawling or moving feelings in the foot, calf, or upper leg.
- Reduce your intake of caffeinated beverages.
- Drink lots of fluids during the day, then taper off before bed.
- Try to avoid eating a large meal just before bed.
- Avoid foods that cause heartburn. These depend on the individual, but may include fried foods, dairy products, and spicy foods.
- If heartburn is a problem, elevate the head of your bed.
- Use your bed only for sleeping.
- Try going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
- Exercise regularly if allowed by your doctor, but avoid rigorous exercise just before bed.
- If you’re having trouble with nausea, try eating frequent bland snacks (like crackers) throughout the day.
- Be sure to get enough calcium. This will help you avoid leg cramps.
- Learn relaxation techniques.
- Nap as needed, but keep them short. Long naps during the day may ruin your night’s sleep.
- Try putting pillows either between your legs, at the small of your back, or both.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org/publications/patient%5Feducation/bp103.cfm
The National Sleep Foundation http://www.sleepfoundation.org
The National Women’s Health Information Center http://www.womenshealth.gov/
Canadian Sleep Society http://www.css.to/
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org/index%5Fe.asp
Healthy pregnancy. The National Women’s Health Information Center website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/ . Accessed September 8, 2003.
Sleeping and pregnancy. Saint Joseph’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.stjosephs-marshfield.org/ . Accessed September 8, 2003.
Sleep during pregnancy. KidsHealth for Parents website. Available at: http://www.kidshealth.org/ . Accessed September 8, 2003.
Women and sleep. The National Sleep Foundation website. Available at: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/ . Accessed on September 8, 2003.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 05/2012 -
- Update Date: 05/07/2012 -