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Sleeping well throughout pregnancy

Tips to help you get the rest you need.

"Get all the sleep you can right now, because you won't get any once the baby arrives."

That's often the advice from other parents who have coped with the demands of a newborn. And it is really good advice. But it can be difficult to put into practice during pregnancy. You may experience any number of sleep problems, from an aching body to repeated trips to the bathroom.

Still, a restful night doesn't have to be only the stuff of dreams. Try these tips for getting quality sleep when you're pregnant.

Rest at will. Especially during your first and third trimesters, you'll likely feel tired a fair amount of the time. Rest when you can. Aim for eight hours of sleep plus a daytime nap. Just avoid very long naps during the day, since those can keep you up at night.

Choose the right position. Don't lie on your back for long periods, since the weight of the uterus can press on veins and impair circulation. It can also add to backaches and heartburn.

As your pregnancy progresses, it's best to lie on your left side when sleeping—this will encourage blood flow to your uterus and kidneys, as well as the baby, notes the American Academy of Family Physicians. It can also help reduce swelling in your feet.

Use pillows to support and cradle your changing body—tuck one between your legs and use others to support your back and belly. A special pregnancy pillow may help.

Factor in food and fluids. If frequent bathroom breaks are keeping you up at night, try monitoring your fluid intake—get plenty earlier in the day but cut back close to bedtime, says the Office on Women's Health.

If heartburn is the problem, try having your last meal at least a few hours before going to bed. You can also use pillows to help elevate your upper body.

Prevent leg cramps. When leg cramps are a problem, try cutting out carbonated drinks. You can also try a simple stretch each night before bed—straighten your leg and flex your foot upward several times.

Work out worry and stress. Worry—about the baby, parenthood, your own health—can keep you up at night. Try to find ways to relax. Deep breathing or writing in a journal may help.

Watch for snoring. Snoring can be a problem during pregnancy due to changes such as swelling of the airways. Snoring can lead to high blood pressure, a potentially dangerous problem for both mother and baby. If you snore, you should talk to your doctor about having your blood pressure and urine protein monitored, especially if you also have swollen ankles and headaches.

Reviewed 2/9/2021

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