Dossier: Pregnancy

Sleeping well during pregnancy

As your stomach grows during pregnancy, you’ll find it harder to sleep. Not just because the baby decides to move just at the moment you go to bed, but also because it will get harder to find a comfortable position to sleep in.

Text: Helwi Braunmiller; photo: Unsplash

As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll find it increasingly difficult to sleep. Sleeping on your tummy has long since been out of the question, and you no longer feel comfortable on your back. It’s practically unheard of for expectant mothers to get through their pregnancy without some sleepless nights. Here are some tips to help you get a better night’s sleep:

  • If you can’t get comfortable, a breastfeeding pillow may help. When you sleep on your side the pillow can help support your stomach, which is especially helpful in the last few months of pregnancy. By then, your stomach will be so big that you can only sleep on your side. It is said that sleeping on your back can cause vena cava syndrome. The superior vena cava vein runs down your back. Lying on your back, the weight of the baby can press down on this vein so that the blood circulation is affected. This can cause dizziness.
  • Your sleep may also be disturbed by cramps in your lower legs. In this case, your doctor or midwife may advise that you take magnesium tablets. Or you can drink mineral water that contains at least 50 to 100 mg of magnesium per litre. 
  • Blocked nose: blood circulation through your nasal mucous membranes is very strong during pregnancy, and the membranes can swell up. Sea salt nasal sprays or nasal irrigation can help soothe the nasal mucous membranes.
  • Urge to urinate: the bigger your baby grows, the more it will press on your bladder – also during the night, so you’ll need to pee more often. There’s not much you can do about this, except reduce the amount you drink before going to bed.
  • Heartburn: If you have heartburn while pregnant, you can alleviate the symptoms by eating only small, light meals in the evening and not eating just before you go to bed. Raise the bed at the head end so the stomach acid can’t reach your oesophagus so easily. Sometimes dry bread, rusks, a sip of milk or herbal tea (not peppermint) may help.