Sleep Soundly During Pregnancy
When you're pregnant, a host of discomforts conspire to rob you of sleep. From heartburn to leg cramps to endless bathroom trips, catching those much-needed ZZZs can be a big challenge. Here's help.
Every expectant mom knows that sleep will be catch-as-catch-can
after her baby is born. But sleepless nights plague women throughout pregnancy, too.
A National Sleep Foundation poll found that over three-quarters
of women slept worse during pregnancy than they did when they weren't pregnant.
What's more, new moms and pregnant women were more likely to suffer insomnia than any other group of women.
The reason: Pregnancy is uncomfortable. The discomforts that
come with having a
baby growing inside you don't go away when you turn out the light.
If you're accustomed to sleeping on your stomach or on your
back, you must adjust to sleeping on your side. It will be physically
impossible to lie on your stomach when you are heavy with child, and doctors
warn against sprawling flat on your back. "There's some concern about that in
the latter part of pregnancy," says Richard Henderson, MD, an
obstetrician/gynecologist at St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington, Del. When you
lie on your back, the weight of the pregnant uterus slows the return of blood
to your heart, which reduces blood flow to the fetus. That means the baby is
getting less oxygen and fewer nutrients.
Henderson says occasionally lying supine will not harm a developing fetus, but sleeping that way every night
might. Nevertheless, you'll probably find that it's easier to sleep on your
side as your tummy grows and grows.
Conventional wisdom holds that it's better to sleep on your
left side than on your right. "For many, many years, the left side has been the
preferred side," says Anne Santa-Donato, RN, spokeswoman for the Association of
Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses. "It became a habit" to tell women
that. But she says it really does not matter which side you sleep on: "It's
what the science has borne out over the years."
Placing a pillow between your legs or sleeping with a
body-length pillow can make you more comfortable. Some women may prefer to give
up the bed entirely, and instead sleep in a reclining chair. "That's perfectly
acceptable," Santa-Donato says.