Some women find that they sleep like babies for the entire nine months of pregnancy, but others struggle to get the sleep they need to feel rested.
If you need help getting your pregnancy ZZZs, here are eight tips for better sleep from Dr. A. Michael Coppa, an OB/GYN with offices in Cranston, Smithfield, and Providence, Rhode Island.
Sleep step #1: Set aside extra time for sleep
Most adults feel best when they get seven to nine hours of sleep. However, pregnant women may need even more sleep than that, especially during the first and third trimesters.
To make sure you have time to get the sleep you need, schedule extra time in bed. That may mean cutting back on things like watching TV, reading, or doing chores. Ask your partner or family members to help out, so you can go to bed early, wake up late, or squeeze in naps.
Sleep step #2: Limit caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with sleep. It may also affect your baby – some studies suggest that it may be linked to miscarriage, although the research on this is not clear.
To be safe, the March of Dimes suggests that pregnant women limit caffeine to no more than 200 milligrams per day, which is roughly what you get in a 12-ounce cup of coffee. And to make sure it doesn’t keep you awake, avoid caffeinated beverages and foods later in the day.
Sleep step #3: Support your sleep with pillows
If you’re having trouble getting comfortable, pillows can help position you for successful sleep. Pillows of various sizes, including large body pillows, can offer relaxing support to your back, legs, and belly.
Sleep step #4: Eat right for sleep
Heavy meals within a few hours of bedtime can cause heartburn and can get in the way of restful sleep. If nighttime hunger strikes, choose a light sleep-supporting snack containing lean protein and complex carbohydrates, such as half of a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread.
Sleep step #5: Avoid liquids later in the day
One of the most notorious sleep stealers for pregnant women is the need to wake up and pee. Urine output increases during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester, when your baby may be pressing against your bladder.
To help keep nighttime bathroom runs to a minimum, hydrate well earlier in the day and minimize your intake of water, milk, and other liquids closer to bedtime.
Sleep step #6: Reduce stress
If you’re lying awake worrying about pregnancy, parenthood, your job, your family, or other concerns, stress-reduction techniques can help you relax. Good stress busters include meditation, pregnancy yoga, spending time with supportive friends, and doing activities you enjoy. A bath before bed can also help.
If anxiety or sadness become serious, talk with Dr. Coppa about whether you could benefit from seeing a therapist or social worker.
Sleep step #7: Stay away from sleeping pills
Like any other over-the-counter medication or prescription drugs, sleeping pills should not be taken during pregnancy without a doctor’s recommendation. Sleeping pills could be harmful to your baby. Likewise, don’t use any sleep supplements or herbal preparations without first checking with Dr. Coppa.
Sleep step #8: Speak up if you’re having trouble sleeping
Be sure to tell Dr. Coppa if you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep. He can work with you to determine what’s causing you to lose sleep and what you can do to rest easier.
Expert care during your pregnancy
High-quality medical care is the best gift you can give yourself and your baby. If you’re pregnant or plan to get pregnant soon, Dr. Coppa can provide the care you need. Book an appointment online or by calling one of our offices today.