Sleep is a necessity for everyone, but more so for pregnant women. It is so crucial that pregnant women are often advised to sleep for two. But how many hours should a pregnant woman sleep?
According to Kathy Lee, a professor of nursing who has studied how pregnancy affects sleep, mothers-to-be should get 8 to 10 hours of sleep per day. If you are not getting this at night, it’s okay to supplement with a day nap as long as it doesn’t affect your quality of sleep at night. Going to bed early is non-negotiable because you need to spend at least 8 hours in bed to get a good 7 hours’ worth of sleep.
Why is this important?
Well, one of Lee’s studies shows that moms who get less than six hours of sleep are 4.5 times more likely to have a CS and longer labor than those who sleep more than 8 hours. Poor quality or less sleep is also associated with preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, not to mention unbelievable fatigue. Pregnant women cannot afford to run on the same amount of sleep they were before pregnancy.
While there are many ways to encourage good quality sleep during pregnancy, the top among them is finding a comfortable sleep position.
Best Sleeping Position for a Pregnant Woman
The best sleeping position changes with each trimester because your body changes as well. So let’s look at what to expect at every stage.
First-trimester Pregnancy Sleeping Positions
If ever there was a time you could sleep well during pregnancy, it is the first trimester. Besides the frequent peeing, everything else in your body makes it possible to get a comfortable night’s sleep. And since the belly is still small, you can sleep in any position that feels comfortable, including on your back and stomach.
That said, some women experience severe morning sickness (which happens all day) in the first three months. Elevating your head more than usual with wedge pillow can reduce nausea and lightheadedness.
The only pressure you have during the first trimester is to start a healthy bedtime routine if you don’t have one. Going to bed early, at the same time daily and relaxing before bed will set you up for success even when sleep becomes a problem later on in the pregnancy.
Second-trimester Pregnancy Sleeping Positions
The second trimester is a hit or miss when it comes to sleep. Some women find it really easy to sleep compared to first and third trimesters, while others suffer insomnia. Whatever the case, your bedtime routine and your sleeping position will determine how well you sleep.
At this stage, the belly has grown quite a bit, which means the back and stomach positions may not be so comfortable. According to a 2019 study, ongoing back sleeping during pregnancy is also linked to stillbirths. Listen to your body cues, and you will know when to switch to the side position. Side sleeping puts less pressure on your diaphragm and pelvic area and also maximizes blood flow to the uterus without stressing the liver.
You will realize very fast, however, that side-sleeping the entire night is not easy or all that comfortable either. Most moms require a pillow or several to make this position more comfortable.
Third-trimester Pregnancy Sleeping Positions
The third trimester is a tough one on the body, which makes sleeping quite uncomfortable. Your belly is big and weighing down the diaphragm, hip, and pelvic bone, body heat is at an all-time high, and you may be going through vivid dreams and breathing issues.
If you were not already sleeping on your side, this is the time to transition fully. Experts recommend sleeping on the left side because it puts more pressure on the liver, but either side is okay.
Unfortunately, side sleeping doesn’t mean you will be comfortable during the third trimester. In fact, this position often causes back and hip pain because the belly is straining the muscles around your midsection. The only way around it is to support yourself with pillows. Put a pillow behind your back, under the belly, and between your knees to help align the spine and hips.
For the lucky few going through heartburn, sleep apnea, or any breathing issues, elevate your head or the entire upper body using pillows if your bed is not adjustable. This opens up the airways and prevents the acid from rising.
Can I Use a Pregnancy Pillow for Better Sleep?
As mentioned above, Sleeping during pregnancy can be difficult. Most women find that they have to adjust their position multiple times throughout the night in order to get comfortable. One fantastic way to make sleeping during pregnancy easier is to use a pregnancy pillow, such pillow can be used to support your back, belly, and legs while you sleep. There are a few different ways to position yourself with a pregnancy pillow, but the most common is to lie on your side with the pregnancy pillow between your legs. This position helps to take pressure off of your back and belly, and can also be used if you are experiencing pain in your hips or pelvic region.
You can also use a wedge pregnancy pillow to prop up your head and shoulders if you are having trouble sleeping on your back. A wedge pregnancy pillow is also a great solution for pregnancy heartburn and acid reflux!
Best Pregnancy Pillows – The Top Rated By Amazon Shoppers
There is a lot of information about pregnancy pillows out there, but it is challenging to choose the right one. In spite of that, I managed to narrow them down to my top four picks after extensive research, rigorous testing, and an in-depth look at Amazon reviews over the past few months. If you choose any of these pillows, you can rest assured that you won’t be disappointed with your decision.
The Classic Choice: AngQi Full Body Pregnancy Pillow with Cooling Cover
If you are looking for a pregnancy pillow that will help you to sleep comfortably on your side, the AngiQ full body pregnancy pillow is the classic option on the market. This pillow is designed to support your legs, back, and belly all at once, making it the perfect choice for side sleepers. Additionally, the AngiQ pillow comes with a cooling cover that helps to regulate your body temperature, making it ideal for hot summer nights. Thanks to its unique full body design, this pillow can really provide the support you need to get a good night’s sleep.
Best For Side Sleepers: MALOUF Z C-Shape Pregnancy Wrap Around Pillow
This Wrap-around C-shaped pillow provides customized support and is ergonomically designed to fit to the natural contours of your body in order to relieve sleeping pain. With the wrap-around pillow, the entire body is enveloped in support, providing head, neck, back, and leg support throughout the night. It is ideal for maternity relief, providing much-needed belly support because of its curved shape, which elevates and aligns the hips. With its Tencel removable cover, the pillow can provide you with an optimal sleep environment by managing moisture and regulating temperature throughout your sleep. Tencel is known for its moisture-management and temperature-regulating properties.
To make your life easier, you can remove and wash the pillow cover, and all materials used are hypoallergenic.
Best Compact: Hiccapop Pregnancy Wedge Pillow
If you suffer from heartburn or indigestion, you may be able to benefit from a wedge pregnancy pillow. This will support your head and torso, relieving the pressure on your stomach.
The Wedge Pregnancy Pillow is It is super useful for providing you with back and belly support, as well as providing you with plenty of body rest and comfort. When you place the pillow under your belly, you will be able to relieve some of the pressure that can build up during pregnancy. This pressure is a result of the increased weight. The wedge pillow is a versatile accessory that can be used throughout the course of your pregnancy.
I think we can agree that getting comfortable while pregnant is not an easy task. Having said that, if you follow these suggested positions and also treat yourself to a supportive pregnancy pillow – a good night’s sleep will indeed be a very possible dream come true!
No matter what position you choose, make sure that you are comfortable and that your pregnancy pillow is supporting you effectively in all the right places.