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5 Tips to Help You Sleep Comfortably While You’re Pregnant

You can give your baby a healthy start by getting plenty of sleep while you’re pregnant. Research indicates that insomnia and sleep deficiency during pregnancy is associated with adverse effects for both mother and child. Women who don’t get enough sleep during pregnancy have a higher risk of depression, Cesarean sections, preterm birth, and low birth weight. They may also have more pain during labor.

Despite your best intentions, getting the sleep you need may be hampered by physical and hormonal changes in your body. Even finding the right sleep position can be a challenge as your unborn baby grows and takes up more space.

You can ensure you’re doing all you can for your baby during pregnancy by getting comprehensive prenatal care. Normal and high-risk pregnancy specialist Shaurin Patel, MD, at ObGyn Care of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, provides expert prenatal care. 

Dr. Patel oversees every aspect of your pregnancy, including diagnosing causes of insomnia and sleep disturbances that may be compromising your health and the health of your baby. He shares these five tips for achieving more comfortable sleep when you and your baby need it most.

Tip #1: Choose the right sleep position

Sleeping on your side is the best position for pregnant women, says the American Pregnancy Association. Sleeping on your left side is ideal. This position maximizes the flow of blood and nutrients to the placenta without putting pressure on your liver. Sleep with your legs bent to stabilize yourself.

Try to avoid sleeping flat on your back. In this position, your uterus presses on your vena cava, the large vein that carries blood from your lower body to your heart. This can interfere with normal circulation and make you dizzy. It also puts more pressure on your intestines and back, aggravating symptoms like backaches and hemorrhoids.

Tip #2: Use pillows between your bent knees

Using pillows between your bent knees or under your abdomen when you sleep can help you sleep without back pain. The extra cushioning helps keep your spine straight and reduces pressure on your spine, hips, and nerves. 

Placing a rolled-up blanket in the small of your back can also help relieve pressure on your back. Pregnancy body pillows are designed to provide support while you sleep, though you can accomplish the same relief with properly positioned regular pillows.

Tip #3: Reduce your risk of heartburn

Heartburn is a common problem in pregnancy. You can reduce its incidence at bedtime if you plan to stop eating at least two hours before you go to bed. Avoiding foods that trigger heartburn, such as chocolate, citrus, and spicy or fatty foods can also reduce your risk of heartburn. Changing hormone levels slow down your digestive system when you’re pregnant, so the less you eat right before bedtime, the better. 

You can also try propping your upper body with pillows to avoid being awakened by heartburn. As your uterus grows, it crowds your stomach and pushes digestive acids upward, creating heartburn. Taking an antacid before bedtime can also reduce the incidence of heartburn, but discuss this with us at a prenatal visit first.

Tip #4: Stretch your legs at night

It’s not uncommon to be awakened from a deep sleep by painful leg cramps during pregnancy. You can help prevent bedtime cramps by doing stretching exercises for your calves before bedtime. 

Staying active during the day and maintaining proper hydration can also offset this condition. If leg cramps are problematic for you, call us or tell us about it at your next prenatal visit. We can talk about a magnesium supplement or increasing your calcium intake, both of which can help to prevent leg cramps.

Tip #5: Empty your bladder right before bedtime

You may have to urinate more often throughout your pregnancy. In the first trimester, your kidneys have to process extra fluid as your blood volume increases. The result is more volume in your bladder and the need to urinate more often. In the third trimester, the weight of your baby increases pressure on your bladder, resulting in the frequent urge to urinate.

Limiting beverages after dinner and emptying your bladder right before bedtime can reduce the number of times you awaken to use the bathroom. And that means more uninterrupted sleep.

Find out more about what you can do to stay healthy and get the sleep you need during pregnancy. Schedule an appointment online or call one of our Oklahoma City offices today.

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