Pregnant: 8 Tips for Getting a Good Night's Sleep

Sleeping can be especially difficult during the last few months of pregnancy. Follow these tips for getting a good night's sleep.

Pregnancy can make you "ga-ga" over sleep. Those first few months, you can't seem to stay awake. Even the office desk seems to make a decent pillow. Then, in those final months, you toss and turn in bed, making a good night's sleep a distant memory.

Not that it's much consolation, but problems sleeping in the third trimester (29 to 40 weeks) are quite common. Back and belly sleepers, in particular, may have the hardest time adjusting.

Sleeping on your back is not recommended. The weight of the baby can compress or squeeze the large blood vessels from the heart and reduce the blood flow to the baby. Also, sleeping on your back may cause backaches. You should also avoid sleeping on your stomach during pregnancy. Sleeping on your right side is okay, but sleeping on your left side is better for blood flow.

Because your baby is bigger in your third trimester, it gets harder to get comfortable. The baby may also be pushing up on your diaphragm, making it harder for you to breathe.

The baby is moving and that can wake you up, too. You may need to go to the bathroom more. You might even have nighttime contractions, which can make you nervous or at least cause anxiety about not getting another night's sleep.

Getting comfortable
Here are some tips for getting a good night's sleep in the third trimester:

  1. Use the bathroom before you go to bed so you start with an empty bladder. Try not to drink beverages right before bedtime.
  2. Exercise can help you sleep better, but do it during the day, not right before bedtime. (Check with your doctor first to make sure exercise is OK for you.)
  3. Avoid meals close to bedtime, especially if heartburn is a problem.
  4. Use pillows where needed. Wedge them between your knees for aching hips. Stick them under your belly, behind your back and under your head for support. (You can even buy special contour pregnancy pillows.)
  5. Relax before bedtime with a warm (not hot) bath or light reading.
  6. Sleep on your left side. That allows for better blood flow to your heart.
  7. If you wake up in the middle of the night or have trouble falling asleep, don't just lie there. You might try reading or doing something not too stimulating.
  8. If you have heartburn, try elevating the head of your bed or ask your doctor about taking Tums or Maalox, which are generally considered safe to take during pregnancy.

Do not take sleep medications. Don't take any medications, even over-the-counter drugs, without talking to your doctor first.



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