by Dr. Harry Watters
For most pregnant women, being comfortable and sleeping well during pregnancy can be two of the biggest challenges. Typically, these problems affect more than 75 percent of pregnant women.
During the second and third trimesters (20 weeks and beyond), lower back pain and stomach discomfort often increase. Women who normally sleep on their back or stomach often find getting enough restful sleep especially challenging. Sleeping on the back is discouraged because of compression of the uterus on the large blood vessels (inferior vena cava) and on the intestines, causing decreased blood flow and oxygen to the baby.
Here are some tips on improving your sleep:
– Set the proper mood to prepare for sleep through soft lighting, a good book, a warm bath (try adding a small amount of lavender oil) and/or a warm non-caffeinated beverage. Experiment to see what helps you unwind.
– Make sure your clothes are loose, comfortable and non-restrictive. A sleep dress can also be a good idea.
– Getting a massage is also a good way to relax.
– Try to get daily exercise – walking or pregnancy aerobics often help.
– Use comfort aids, such as the Gentle Air Maternity Bed or a special body pillow to support your abdomen and hips.
– Nap during the day to help gain some rest and relaxation.
– Ask your doctor can give you additional advice. There are several over-the-counter and prescription medications that are safe to use and effective if other methods are not successful.