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Sleeping when Pregnant

Pregnant and can't sleep

Why am I sleeping badly?

You may start to sleep badly at night very early on in your pregnancy.  The explanation for this phenomenon (when you don’t yet have an uncomfortable bump or many pregnancy-related ailments) seems to be unknown but it is relatively common.  You can try and help matters by keeping active during the day.  You could do some light exercise or simply try and do some walking instead of getting the bus or driving.

Even from as early as 5 weeks, your body may be producing more urine than normal and you may find yourself waking frequently in the night to go to the loo.  Some women find that reducing their liquid intake after 7pm can help.

Worries and nerves about your pregnancy or the birth may be playing on your mind. 

Financial or employment-related concern can also become particularly prevalent when you are pregnant.  It can help to discuss these worries with your partner, a friend or colleague rather than bottling them up.

As your pregnancy progresses, even if your bump is not big and uncomfortable, you may find yourself lying awake at night for no particular reason.  It is quite normal to have a disturbance of your sleep in later pregnancy and some people cite this as practise for what is ahead!

In the last month or so of your pregnancy you are likely to have a sizeable bump that is more difficult to manoeuvre around the bed in the night.  You may find that you cannot turn over without waking yourself up and using your arms.  You may also be plagued by heartburn, or various aches and pains such as Carpel Tunnel or SPD which can make getting a good nights sleep difficult.  You may also have to wake frequently to go to the loo, as your womb and baby will be exerting more pressure on your bladder.

Sadly there is not too much you can do about this.  Try and catch up on some sleep during the day if you can.  If your doctor has recommended some painkillers for your aching hips or back then these may help.  Indigestion remedies before you go to bed, and even during the night can help keep heartburn at bay.

There are many pregnancy pillows on the market which are designed to help you sleep more comfortably.  Some are designed to put between your legs and help you to sleep on your left, and to prop up your bump so it does not feel so heavy in bed.  Many people just use an ordinary bed pillow between their legs and one under their tummy.

We love this one with its bump and back support!

Can I sleep on my tummy?

You can sleep on your front as long as it is comfortable.  For some women this may be possible for a few months until their bump gets too big to make it feasible.  If you have very sore breasts you may not be able to sleep on your front.  It is not harmful for the baby for you to sleep on the front.  He or she cannot get squashed or damaged in anyway.

I keep waking up on my back, should I worry?

When you sleep on your back, the vein that returns blood to your heart may become compressed by the weight of your uterus and baby.  If this is the case, your body will alert you by waking you up, and you may feel faint or nauseous.  If this happens, you will usually just naturally roll back on to your side.  Do not panic if you wake up in the night on your back, this will not have any adverse effect on the baby.  Indeed if you find it comfortable to sleep on your back then you can continue to do so as long as you like.  If you cannot sleep on your side and keep waking up on your back feeling sick, then you could prop the head of the bed up  (with some big books under the bed frame) and this should help relieve the pressure on your veins.

Do I have to sleep on my left-hand side?

Sleeping on your left hand side is thought to be good for the baby as it helps the flow of blood to the placenta.  Later in the pregnancy, if you are suffering from Varicose Veins or any swelling in your feet, it can help to sleep on your left to keep the pressure off your veins and help alleviate these problems.  In your last trimester as your bump and baby become much bigger, you will find that if you lie on your back, their pressure compresses the vein that returns blood to your heart.  This may make you feel sick or faint, and for this reason you will probably not want to sleep on your back.

The best current advice would be to try and sleep on your left side if possible but not to worry if you find that you roll over onto your right back in the night.  Please ask your midwife or doctor for advice on this subject.

For more tips on sleeping, head over to join our  Online Antenatal Classes

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