Learning to sleep with a child tucked up close is a skill every parent has to develop. You have years ahead of cuddling little kicking bundles of joy so make some small changes to get ahead on your sleep.
Some women report discomfort or struggling to find a comfortable position to sleep in. Often it is just a case of adjusting to your new belly and you will soon find new favourite positions. There are lots of things you can do help you stay comfortable from buying special pillows to developing evening rituals.
You’ll read lots about the best way to sleep, what position to stay in, what habits to develop and what might go wrong. However, remember that everything – including this article – is just recommendations to help you be comfortable. Ultimately your body will tell you if it is uncomfortable. You will wake up or wriggle around so your only worry is annoying your partner! Mix and match to find out what works for you.
1. Pregnancy Pillows
You don’t have to buy special products to benefit from the added support and comfort of carefully arranged pillows. If you have aches in your back or hips, then place a pillow between your knees when you are on your side or try a supporting pillow in the small of your back.
If you don’t want to spend too much on a specialist pillow then some women have reported that body pillows, large cuddly toys or even considerate partners can work well to support your stomach and top leg.
However, many mothers report brilliant results from maternity pillows and though they seem expensive if you are struggling to sleep through discomfort the money may be well worth it. After all, there is the cliché that you can’t put money on a good night’s sleep.
Pregnancy pillows can also make great presents so consider leaving hints around for your loved ones or just make sure they stay awake with you and they’ll probably start to feel generous in no time. If you are a partner reading this then take initiative, you have been warned!
2. Partner’s Support During Pregnancy
Talking of partners, if you are supporting someone through pregnancy, then there is a lot you can do to help them get a good night’s sleep. Plus, if they don’t settle down then it is likely that neither will you!
Pregnancy aches and pains can be very disruptive to sound sleep so a nice massage before bed can help release discomfort. If you are both in the mood, then enjoying some intimacy can also help you drift to sleep.
If you are both getting disturbed and tired, try and look on the bright side. You will probably find a sense of humour in your little baby as they start practising martial arts the moment you lie down to sleep.
3. Sleeping Positions Whilst Pregnant
Your pregnancy may give you aches and pains and in your first trimester, it is recommended that you sleep on your left side as it supports circulation most effectively.
Some experts recommend pregnant women avoid sleeping on their backs during the second and third trimesters. This is because when you are on your back you have a lot of extra weight bearing down and this can impact your circulation and digestion. If you have ever had a child fall asleep on your lap or a particularly chubby cat curl up on your stomach, then you’ll know it is not the most comfortable position anyway.
Other women find propping themselves up so you are sleeping in almost a sitting position can help a lot and in the third trimester particularly some mothers-to-be actually sit in recliners to find a good night’s sleep. Almost sitting up can be particularly comforting if you are experiencing shortness of breath or heartburn. For advice on the best pillows for side sleepers, see the article here: https://www.sleepadvisor.org/best-pillow-for-side-sleepers/
4. Evening Rituals to Help Sleep in Pregnancy
It is generally advised to have rituals before going to bed to help with a sound sleep. When you are pregnant it is even more important to develop good habits to help you settle down. The first thing is to take some time out to wind down properly. Try switching off your laptop and TV before you start going to bed. Ideally, an hour before you go to sleep. Instead, have a warm bath or read a book you enjoy.
If you are used to drinking tea into the evening, then try having warm milk or herbal teas instead and then get into a routine that suits you so you go to bed at the same time each night. This will also help you settle.
Finally, doing some exercise during the day or even just getting some fresh air can really help. It will relax and tire you out so is really valuable if you are unsettled during the night. Some gentle stretching can soften aches too.
Prepare nice things to think about while you are going to sleep so you settle down comfortably and start the night feeling positive and relaxed. You might have a lot on your mind as you plan this new stage in your life. Any new experience can make you nervous and it is easy to get stuck in vicious circles late at night. Think through what is exciting, design the nursery, or focus on your breathing.
5. Waking During Pregnancy
If worrying does keep you awake, then try talking things through with your partner or writing everything in a list and then leave it till morning.
If you are very wakeful or have leg cramps, then stretch your calf muscles or have yoghurt or a banana before bed as this will increase your potassium and calcium intake.
If you are waking up in the night to go for a pee, which is a common pregnancy problem, then, unfortunately, there is very little you can do but go with it. Make sure you carry on drinking lots of water as being dehydrated will make little difference and could make you uncomfortable in other ways. If you are pregnant in the colder months, then maybe leave the heating on in the bedroom and bathroom so you can stay warm when you get out of bed.
You can be confident your body will guide you to the most comfortable position so trust your instincts. The last thing we’d want is for you to not sleep because you are worrying about how to sleep! It may feel strange that your sleeping pattern will change so much but just think how it will shift again when you are tucking your baby into bed and developing your own bedtime routine.