If you want to know how to sleep during pregnancy for more than a few minutes at a time, you’ll love this post! I cover pregnancy sleeping positions, pregnancy sleep pillows, sleeping aids during pregnancy, and dealing with heartburn, needing to pee, and more reasons why you can’t sleep during pregnancy!
Ask a pregnant mom what she needs more of, and she won’t say, “money” or “time” (though those might come in a close second), she’ll probably say, “SLEEP!”
It’s hard to catch those ZZZZzzzzz’s when you’re pregnant for a number of reasons.
I remember being pregnant with our first child, walking into our house, and flopping down on the couch immediately because I couldn’t stay awake another minute. I thought I wasn’t getting enough sleep then, but I had no idea what my future would be like!
Most pregnant moms go, go, go all day, especially if they have multiple kids, so it’s essential to get quality rest in the evenings to have enough energy to do it all again the next day.
However, sometimes sleeping during pregnancy isn’t as easy as it sounds. Pregnant women deal with leg cramps, heartburn, snoring, and frequent trips to the bathroom at night which can really affect their sleep cycles. Looking for advice on how to sleep during pregnancy? You’ve come to the right place!
How to Sleep During Pregnancy
Pregnancy Sleep Positions
I’m a side sleeper. Always have been. Always will be. Sometimes I peek in on my kids at night and find them in all kinds of funky sleeping positions! Makes me wonder how they sleep that way! I know some women prefer sleeping on their back or even on their stomach. So, what’s best for pregnancy?
The American Pregnancy Association says that “The best sleep position during pregnancy is “SOS” (sleep on side). Even better is to sleep on your left side. Sleeping on your left side will increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby.”
If you think there’s no possible way you could ever sleep on your side, the good news is that you have a little time to train yourself.
During the first trimester, you should adjust your bedding and pillows to make side sleeping become a habit. That way when you really need to sleep on your side, (starting in the second trimester) it won’t be as big of a deal.
You can surround your body with pillows on all sides to try to keep yourself in the side sleeping position, but don’t freak out if you wake up in a slightly different position than the one you went to sleep in. It’s natural and super common to move around when you’re sleeping during pregnancy.
Here’s why the American Pregnancy Association says you shouldn’t sleep on your back or your stomach:
“Sleeping on your back: This can cause problems with backaches, breathing, the digestive system, hemorrhoids, low blood pressure and cause a decrease in circulation to your heart and your baby. This is a result of your abdomen resting on your intestines and major blood vessels (the aorta and vena cava).
“Sleeping on your stomach: When you are farther along in your pregnancy, your abdomen undergoes physical changes and makes it more difficult for you to lay on your stomach.”
So, what if the pillow fort surrounding you still doesn’t work? Well, it’s a good thing we live in the modern era, because some genius people invented special pregnancy sleep pillows that specifically help you catch those pregnancy Zzzz’s!
Pregnancy Sleeping Pillows
I asked several of my friends on Facebook what their go-to sleep method was for how to sleep during pregnancy and I got an almost unanimous response:
- “Body pillow”
- “Pregnancy body pillow”
- “Body pillow”
- “Body pillow!!!!”
- “My U-shaped body pillow”
- “Full body pillow. Don’t screw around with half measures!”
Confession: I didn’t even know that pregnancy body pillows existed! No one gave me a manual of helpful tips when I was pregnant that told me where and how to buy said items or told me about them before this.
Luckily, there are all kinds of wedges, side-by-side, and full body pillows you can buy to help make sleeping during pregnancy more comfortable. There’s this one:
You can buy it on Amazon for around $55, and what’s cool about this one is that you can adjust the level of the stuffing! You can take some out if you want or put more in if you feel so inclined. Over 1,200 reviews are posted for this bad boy on Amazon, and while some people are not a fan of the bright color, the consensus is that this pillow rocks for helping you get in the perfect pregnancy sleep position.
I like that one of the product pictures show a new mom using the body pillow to nurse. I find that my bed pillows never do as great of a job as a pillow made specifically to accommodate a new mom. Some customers say this pillow’s too flat, but others say a little fluffing made it just right. It’s a good option if you don’t want to spend a lot, but are on the lookout for a highly rated pregancy sleeping pillow that will get the job done.
Boppy.com also has a lot of great options for pregnancy pillows. You’ve got the wedge:
You can put this pregnancy wedge pillow anywhere! Under your knees, behind your back, under your belly, etc. Moms like this one because it’s not so humongous, and you can take it places when you travel. It comes in a nice neutral gray and white color, and like most of Boppy’s products, you can take the cover and wash it at anytime. It’s only $13, so totally worth it for the added support you’ll get.
Boppy® has its own total body pillow too!
This one’s around $50, and designed to support your belly and back.
How to Get Pregnancy Sleep With Multiple Bathroom Trips
You’re probably thinking, Yes those pillows look nice, but how do I avoid those frequent trips to the bathroom? That’s what’s really affecting my sleep during pregnancy! It’s something we pregnant women all deal with and complain about. Here’s what BabyCenter has to say:
“If you’re tired of the bathroom shuffle, drink plenty of fluids during the day but cut down in the late afternoon and evening.”
I drink more water than most people I know, (I cart my Camelbak around with me everywhere I go) and this is a tough rule to follow. A lot of times I’ll want a drink of water in the evenings because I like to snack on sweet things that also happen to be loaded with sodium and make me thirsty. I have found that a good rule of thumb is to stop drinking water at least an hour and a half before bedtime. If I absolutely have to drink some, I’ll just take small sips instead of huge gulps.
BabyCenter also recommends the following tips for less frequent late-time peeing:
“Skip certain beverages. Don’t drink coffee, tea, or certain carbonated drinks (like soda) because these are all diuretics, meaning they increase urine production and make you need to pee more often. (Alcohol is also a diuretic.)
“Empty your bladder. When you pee, lean forward to empty your bladder completely. Don’t hold it. Go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the need. Waiting can actually weaken your pelvic floor muscles in the long run.”
Also don’t wake yourself up too much by flicking the light on every time you have to go. Plug in a small nightlight or turn on a dim light instead so you can keep your body in sleep mode.
How to Get Pregnancy Sleep When You Battle Nighttime or Early Morning Nausea
Before I got pregnant with my first, everyone I know talked about this morning sickness thing, and how it really sucked.
Well, I count myself lucky that I didn’t ever feel sick in the morning until I hit 8 weeks pregnant, and I figured out I’m one of those people that gets it later in the evening, right before dinner.
I would come home from a long day of work and my husband would cook us some delicious pasta for supper, and I would sit there, stare at it, push it around my plate, and then go lay down. I’ve missed out on some awesome dinners while I’ve been pregnant. My only consolation is that usually I can enjoy the leftovers the next day for lunch!
There’s the advice most people have heard that you should always have something in your tummy like crackers, bland food, etc and eat six smaller meals during the day instead of three large ones to help your digestive system. My mother-in-law says my “tell” for when I’m pregnant is that she sees me snacking on crackers all day! Haha.
Here are some foods the American Pregnancy Association recommends to help with nausea:
Suggested Meals to Help with Morning Sickness
- Cold foods (sandwiches, raw vegetables, salad when properly prepared to prevent listeria)
- Bland foods (chicken soup, broth, plain baked potato)
- Plain vegetables or fruits
- Keep meals small, but eat as frequently as you need
- Foods rich in vitamin B6
Suggested Snacks to Help with Morning Sickness
- Lemons (Eat them, suck on them, or sniff them.)
- Ginger (ginger ale soda, ginger tea, ginger jam on toast, ginger snaps)
- Peppermint tea
- Flavored popsicles
The American Pregnancy Association also recommends the following treatments & supplements to help with nausea:
- PregEase: natural product shown to relieve morning sickness and heartburn. Includes a comprehensive formula with vitamins, minerals and herbal ingredients demonstrated to help easy common pregnancy discomforts.
- Sea Bands: wristbands that use acupressure pulse points to fight nausea.
- Nip the Nausea: Drops flavored with a combination of ginger and lemon, which collectively soothe upset stomachs and reduce nausea symptoms.
- Relief Band Device: a watch-like device that can be worn continuously for relief of mild to moderate nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy.
- Vitamin B6: Taking Vitamin B6 (50 mg) daily has been shown to help with pregnancy-induced nausea.
- Preggie Pop Drops: These are sold at Walgreens, WalMart, Target, BuyBuy Baby, Amazon, Motherhood Maternity, pretty much all over! These are supposed to combat nausea and help you deal.
Tips for Getting Sleep While Pregnant When Battling Heartburn and Indigestion
What about when you’re on your way to sleeping during pregnancy and you get a killer case of heartburn or indigestion? Besides eating frequent smaller meals, FitPregnancy.com suggests figuring out what foods to avoid:
“Eliminate Trigger Foods: Identify the foods that intensify your heartburn and banish them from your diet. While there are no universally “banned” foods, common heartburn triggers include acidic foods, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, greasy or fried foods, spicy foods, chocolate, coffee and carbonated beverages and alcohol (which, as you well know, you should eliminate anyway!).”
You can also “drink” more of your food so that it’s easier to digest! I welcome most any food in smoothie form, and it’s a good way to get those green vegetables you and baby need, too.
If your heartburn is really bad, you should stop eating a few hours before you go to bed, and sleep with your upper body propped upright. Using a large wedge pillow can help prop you up comfortably.
One of my friends recommended Doterra’s DigestZen oil to help with her heartburn and indigestion.
Most pregnant women find that Tums become their new best friend, but FitPregnancy cautions that “too much calcium can block iron absorption, so don’t take Tums at the same time you take your prenatal vitamin.”
I got heartburn really bad with my second pregnancy, and I think I went through quite a few bottles of antacids myself. I always thought to myself, “Well, at least I know she’s got a lot of hair, right?”
Tips for Battling Charley Horses in your Calves While Pregnant
I didn’t suffer as much with Charley horses as some of my friends did, but when you do get that occasional one, it’s nice if you know what to do!
BabyCenter recommends taking these steps whenever you have a leg cramp:
- Stretch your calf muscles immediately by straightening your leg, heel first, and gently flexing your toes back toward your shins. (Don’t point your toes while stretching. It can make the muscle contract and worsen the cramp!) This stretch might hurt at first, but it will ease the spasm and gradually make the pain go away.
- After you stretch, massage the muscle or warm it with a hot water bottle to relax the tissue. Walking around for a few minutes may help too.
If you want to try to prevent leg cramps from happening, you should stretch regularly and take walks when you can.
Two of my friends suggested taking a warm bath in the middle of the night because it relaxes your muscles and helps you sleep better.
I would also add that wearing comfortable shoes when you’re pregnant is a huge must. There’s probably not any correlation between wearing high heels and getting Charley horses, but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt!
How To Sleep During Pregnancy When You Have Back Pain
I experienced a lot of back pain with almost all my pregnancies. Comes with the territory, right? I saw a chiropractor back in high school after I was in a car accident, and I do believe they can provide relief, but I like that to be my last resort when my back is hurting.
The American Pregnancy Association suggests the following to avoid back pain:
- Use exercises approved by your health care provider that support and help strengthen the back and abdomen.
- Squat to pick up something instead of bending over at the waist.
- Avoid high heels and other shoes that do not provide adequate support.
- Avoid sleeping on your back.
- Wear a support belt under your lower abdomen.
- Consider having your back adjusted by a chiropractor.
- Get plenty of rest. Elevating your feet is also good for your back.
You can ask your doctor about any braces or supports they could recommend, or sleep with a pillow between your legs at night to take the pressure off of your back.
Sleeping During Pregnancy: Safe Sleep Aids for Pregnant Women
The first few times you visit your OBGYN, they usually provide you with a nice list of all the medications that are “no-no’s” and the ones that are okay to take when you’re pregnant. While I couldn’t find the list my doctor gave me, I did find one posted online at another clinic that looked incredibly similar to the ones I’ve found.
As a general rule, Tylenol and Tylenol PM are always safe if taken in the correct dosage. Benadryl can also be taken as one of its side effects is drowsiness. Pregnant women should avoid Ibuprofen and Aspirin no matter what stage of pregnancy they’re in.
Here are some “prescriptions” from my friends on what they took to help them sleep:
- “Tylenol pm. Every night. It’s the only thing that helped me fall back asleep between all the bathroom breaks.”
- “Lavender pillow spray, heating pad“
- “Humidifier, air purifier and sound machine all going at the same time.”
- “Listening to Hypnobirthing tracks (or any self-relaxation). Knocked me out every time.”
- “I took Benadryl.”
- “Lots of pillows! Benadryl. And I kept it as cold as I could in the house at night.”
- “Listening to this mediation whilst trying to sleep. I’ve never actually heard the end of it!”
- “I second listening to meditation tapes! I listened to the hypnobirthing rainbow relaxation nightly.”
- “Chamomile tea before bedtime”
- “Chamomile starting like 2 hours before bedtime to give me time to pee before going to bed.”
- “Sleeping with my fan on and a sound machine.”
- “Watching nature documentaries and British baking shows until I fell asleep.”
- “The doxylamine Unisom helps with morning sickness too which is a plus. Unisom and vitamin b6 are my go to meds, just don’t take the gel cap one (different drug, starts with diph…)” See more about Unisom here.
While it may feel like you’ll never fall asleep, it’s nice to know that other people have been there too and found ways to get through it!
How to Sleep During Pregnancy When You’ve Got Numb Hands!
Your body tends to swell when you’re pregnant with all that extra weight you’re carrying and your heart pumping out 1 ½ times the normal blood flow throughout your body. Because of this, about 25 percent of women get carpal tunnel syndrome in their hands during their pregnancy.
“Typically affecting people whose jobs demand repetitive motions such as typing on a computer keyboard, carpal tunnel syndrome is named for the carpal tunnel in the wrist, a hollow region that houses nerves and ligaments leading to your hand. When the tissue swells in this tunnel, it can press on the nerves and cause numbness, pins-and-needles tingling, or burning sensations.”
If your hands start to go numb at night, you can relieve the sensation by propping them up on a pillow. If you’re typing full time at a computer, talk to your boss about getting an ergonomic keyboard or taking breaks to rest during the day. You can also purchase a plastic splint or shake your hands to help dispel the sensations.”
Usually, after the baby’s born the symptoms go away, so at least you know you’re not suffering forever. As always, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about how to ease the pain before trying anything crazy.
Parents.com continues by saying:
“Some pregnant women experience a feeling of pins and needles in their hands that’s not related to carpal tunnel syndrome. Some even feel it in their feet. This sensation is usually your body’s way of telling you that your hands and feet are not getting enough blood or that a nerve is being compressed.
Why it happens: Babies sometimes find a favorite position in the uterus that is quite comfortable for them but not so great for you because the uterus presses on your blood vessels, narrowing them and keeping blood from flowing freely. Other babies can sit directly on your nerves, sending zinging pain into your buttocks or down the back of your leg.
Getting relief: Numbness is sometimes relieved by shifting positions while sitting or lying down or by drinking plenty of fluids, which helps reduce swelling. Shaking the feet and hands (with fingers and toes pointed downward) can pump up the circulation to your extremities. And any kind of aerobic exercise – swimming, walking, stationary cycling – increases the blood circulation throughout the body.
If your hands or feet feel cold when numbness strikes, heat sometimes helps. When the body is cold, blood circulation to the arms and legs slows down in order to keep organs such as the heart and lungs warm. Soak your hands or feet in warm (not hot) water or warm them up with a hot-water bottle or heating pad.”
Pregnancy Sleep Bras
Ever tried to sleep with a normal bra on? Those wires and straps can pinch and tighten, making it hard to fall asleep! A good nursing/pregnancy sleep bra is a must for a good night’s rest.
This Medela Women’s Maternity Nursing Bra is the one I still have! I actually bought two because I liked the first one so much. This bra allows a lot of room to grow and is super comfortable. Mine are still holding up after three kids too. These bras are also great even when you’re not pregnant and just don’t feel like wearing a clasp-and-hook bra around the house:
This Kindred Bravely French Terry Racerbck Nursing Sleep Bra is actually an Amazon Mom’s Choice Award Winner! What’s nice about this bra is that you can specify different sizes, and then also say whether you are busty or not so much.
So, say for example, I wanted a bra in size large. I have the option to choose from either just a regular large or large-busty. It allows women with fuller cup sizes to get the bra that fits them the best, and gives you some room to expand when your milk eventually comes in. It’s wire free, there are no clasps or hooks to mess with, and the busty sizes include a supportive elastic chest band. I also like that you can choose from so many different colors.
This HOFISH Ulta-Soft Modal Nursing Sleep Bra comes with those awesome removable pads and you get three in a pack. It’s also super highly rated on Amazon and I like that you can get a nude, white, and black one all in one go. It’s nice to have that neutral nude color to go under white shirts.
Get the Best Mattress, Toppers, and Pillows to Get Sleep During Pregnancy!
Still haven’t found a solution for how to sleep during pregnancy? Maybe it’s time to shell out the big bucks for a new mattress.
Most of us don’t replace our mattresses as often as we should, and if you’ve used yours for several pregnancies already, it probably doesn’t have the same support it did when you bought it originally. Your mattress should give you the most comfortable rest you deserve.
This Casper Mattress is not too pricey at around $1000 for a queen and comes with a 100 “night risk-free trial”, so you can return it after 100 days if you’re not satisfied. It also comes with a 10-year warranty, so you can get your money’s worth out of this one. It’s highly rated on Amazon, and way cheaper than the $2,000 or more you’ll spend for a Tempur-Pedic mattress.
If there’s no way you’d ever spend more than a few hundred dollars for a mattress, then check out this Zinus Memory Foam 12-inch Queen-Sized Mattress on Amazon! It sells for under $300!
Or, if you don’t want to buy a whole mattress, think about investing instead in a mattress topper. It’s a much cheaper solution and there are lots of great toppers out there for under or around $100. Katelyn had this one on her bed during her last pregnancy and it helped a lot!
However, if you think your mattress is okay, then it may be time to invest in a new pillow? On Amazon you can find pretty much any kind of pillow imaginable.
I’m a firm believer that sleeping during pregnancy shouldn’t be attempted on a lumpy mattress and a wafer thin pillow. Invest in some good bedding basics for a better sleep.
Let’s Talk About Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Some pregnant women find that as their baby grows, they start the delicate habit of snoring.
Whattoexpect.com says “You can blame that perpetually stuffy nose for the new noisier-at-night you; plus gaining too much weight can make the problem worse. And snoring is more than just annoying to you and your partner: Sometimes it indicates sleep apnea when you briefly stop breathing. Since apnea has been linked to high blood pressure and gestational diabetes, be sure to discuss snoring with your doctor and ask if you should be evaluated.”
The following steps can help prevent snoring during pregnancy:
- Stick on a nasal strip at bedtime (they’re completely drug-free)
- Try using a warm-mist humidifier in your bedroom at night
- Try sleeping on your side (your left is best for circulation anyway)
- Plump up your pillows and snooze with your head slightly elevated
- Keep an eye on your calorie intake during pregnancy to make sure extra weight doesn’t contribute to snoring
- Stay away from alcohol and tobacco, which can inhibit sleep (you should be avoiding them anyway when you’re pregnant!)”
Usually once you’ve had your baby, the snoring stops, which is great news! For others, it takes a little bit longer after the baby weight is gone before the snoring ceases completely.
I hope all this information helps you sleep more soundly during your pregnancy. Every woman deserves a good night’s rest with her body working so hard to grow a baby. Share your tips and tricks for sleeping during pregnancy below!
Be sure to check out my other popular posts about pregnancy!
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- Stitch Fix Maternity Review
- Le Tote Maternity Review
- Where to Get Cheap Maternity Clothes
- Fun Gender Reveal Ideas
- Essential Checklist for Preparing for Baby to Come Home
- 15 Must-Have Baby Items to Survive the Newborn Stage
- Why the Last Month of Pregnancy Sucks
- 13 Things You Are Not Guaranteed in Pregnancy and Childbirth
- What Second Time Moms Need on Their Baby Registries
- Free Stuff for New Moms