Top Sleep Tips for Expecting Mothers and New Parents
If you’re expecting your first child or you’re a brand-new parent, chances are that you’ve been prepping yourself for some serious life changes, and getting ready to wave goodbye to a good night’s sleep.
But contrary to popular belief, there are ways to ward off sleep deprivation during pregnancy and the first year of parenthood, and still get the sleep you need to thrive each and every day.
That’s why we’ve created this guide to better sleep for soon-to-be mothers and new parents. We’ve gathered up the top tips for restful nights to help you stress about one less thing during your time as the mom or dad to a newborn.
Let’s start by taking a look at how expectant mothers can get the rest they need to stay happy and healthy while they’re pregnant…
Better Sleep for Expecting Mothers
It should come as no surprise that you’re going to go through some pretty serious changes during your pregnancy, which will affect not only your body, but also your ability to get some good rest. We’re going to dive into what you can expect during all three trimesters of pregnancy, and the best sleep tips for each one.
Your First Trimester
During the 12 weeks of your first trimester, your body will increase its production of hormones, making you feel groggier, and your baby will grow quickly, causing bladder pressure, pelvic and breast pain, and even some light body cramps. All of this can make getting to sleep and staying that way harder than ever.
Which is why we’ve rounded up these top tips for better sleep in your first trimester:
- Exercise regularly (but lightly) to help you combat body aches and fatigue
- Take naps to help keep you feeling well-rested and fight off the grogginess
- Swap out caffeine for water to avoid having a harder time falling asleep
- Avoid spicy foods to help prevent morning sickness and heartburn
- Eat lighter meals near bedtime to ward off tossing and turning at night
Your Second Trimester
During your second trimester (weeks 13 through 27), your hormone levels should regulate, but you will most likely begin to experience a bit of leg cramping at night, regular bouts of heartburn, and even some vivid dreams. This all means interrupted sleep from waking up more during the night.
These tips can help you to get better sleep during the second trimester of pregnancy:
- Avoid heartburn triggers like fried or acidic foods, especially at bedtime
- Keep your head elevated at night to reduce the chance of acid reflux
- Try deep breathing and other relaxation methods to lower stress levels
Your Third Trimester
Beginning at 28 weeks, your third and final trimester holds some of the biggest changes for you and your baby. Added pressure on your back and bladder from fetus growth can create quite a bit of strain on your body and keep you from getting and staying asleep.
Check out these tips for a more comfortable third trimester of pregnancy:
- Stretch it out with light yoga at bedtime to help you relax and avoid leg cramps
- Make good use of pillows to position your body for relief of painful pressure
- Stick to a routine by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day
- Reach out to your doctor if you’re having serious trouble getting to sleep
Best Pregnancy Sleep Position
Being pregnant can bring about some seriously frustrating changes in your body. And finding it hard to get comfortable at bedtime is probably right up at the top of that list.
Most pregnant women experience lower back pain, pelvic and leg cramps, shortness of breath, and horrible heartburn during their pregnancies. All of this can make it pretty darn hard to get comfy while in bed and drift off to Dreamland.
That’s the bad news but the good news is that taking a bit of time to optimize your sleeping position can go a long way toward helping you to fall asleep, stay that way, and get the rest you need for the happiest and healthiest pregnancy possible.
Let’s take a look at the best sleeping position for pregnancy:
Sleeping on Your Side (SOS)
Most health experts recommend that pregnant women sleep on their sides, thanks to an increased level of comfort, as well as a greater chance of encouraging better blood flow and other health benefits.
While sleeping on your right side won’t cause any harm to you or your baby, it’s been found that sleeping on the left side is optimal when it comes to an increased chance of excellent blood circulation and a decreased risk of possible gastrointestinal upset.
To boost the benefits of the SOS position, you should place a pillow between your legs and below your belly, as well as bending your knees to reduce lower back pressure. You can also place an additional pillow under your head to help ease your breathing and prevent heartburn from keeping you awake.
Sleeping Positions to Avoid
While sleeping on your side is the best way to get comfortable, drift off faster, and stay asleep longer, there are some sleep positions you should avoid during your pregnancy.
On Your Back: This sleep position should be avoided as it puts a lot of stress on your spine, increases your chance of heartburn, and impedes your circulation.
On Your Stomach: You should do your best to not sleep on your stomach due to possible risks to your baby as it grows and increases the chance of strain and discomfort to your arms, legs, and other areas of your body.
Helping Expecting (and New) Mothers
If you’re the partner of an expecting mother, you don’t have to sit back and simply watch her suffer through sleepless nights! There are ways that you can jump on board and help her to get the sleep that she needs during her pregnancy and beyond.
Everything seems easier when the two of you work as a team, and bringing a new life into the world doesn’t have to be any different, if you make a bit of an effort to be there for the soon-to-be new mom.
And the help doesn’t have to stop after you’ve watched your pregnant partner go through 9 months of struggling to get some sleep – you can also lend a hand once the baby has arrived, even though Mom will bear the brunt of the burden.
Top Tips for Supportive Expecting (and New) Dads
Stay Positive and Supportive: Being pregnant isn’t easy, so one of the best things you can do is just be there for your partner. And the same is true after the birth of your newborn, especially if Mom is dealing with some postpartum depression. Keep things positive, stay patient, and serve as a “sounding board” when your partner’s struggling.
Request Paternity Leave: Look into taking some time off from work after the baby has come. This will help you to not only bond with your little one, it will also give the new mom access to a crucial support system during the first few weeks of having a newborn.
Practice Baby Soothing Techniques: You can give Mom a chance to get some rest by doing some research on the best ways to soothe a baby and have them ready to go when your bundle of joy arrives.
Help with Feedings: Once your little one is here, your partner might be the one that’s doing the actual nursing, but you can lend a hand by taking care of the burping, changing, and post-feeding cleanup.
Be Proactive with Housework: New baby or not, there are still going to be chores that need to be tackled around the house. Do your best to take care of the dirty dishes, washing the laundry, and picking up daily messes to take some stress off Mom.
Sleep When You Can: You and the new mother should both be getting some rest while the baby is napping. This will help you both to avoid being exhausted and having to deal with the scary effects of sleep deprivation in the first few weeks.
Better Sleep for New Mothers
Staying well-rested during your pregnancy is only the beginning of the sleep deprivation battle. Once your bundle of joy has made it into the world, the real sleepless struggles start for new parents.
As the mother of a newborn, you’ll deal with some of the issues you’ve heard about in the horror stories of brand-new parents. It’s not a coincidence that the top complaint you hear about from those with an infant is a serious lack of sleep.
Just some of the troubles you’ll come up against during your baby’s first year of life include physical exhaustion, daytime drowsiness, and the threat of developing the “baby blues,” also known as postpartum depression.
One of the best ways you can avoid having to deal with all of these woes is by getting a good night’s rest. But who can do that with a newborn in the house, right? We’re going to take a look at some of the ways new mothers can cope and get the sleep they need.
Top Sleep Tips for New Moms
Welcoming a new baby into your life and home is one of the biggest blessings you’ll ever experience, but it can also bring about some serious issues when it comes to being able to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
We’ve rounded up some of the top tips to help new mothers to stay rested and sane:
Sleep When Baby Sleeps: While it’s tempting to tackle chores while your bundle of joy is resting, you should do your best to take advantage of the quiet time, and grab a nap of your own. For the best results, try to get through a full (90-minute) sleep cycle.
Keep It Cool and Dark: You can optimize your sleep environment for a better chance at falling asleep faster and easier by keeping your bedroom cool (60-70 degrees Fahrenheit) and dark (turn off all screens and other light sources) when it’s time to turn in at night.
Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Avoid caffeine: coffee, many teas, sodas, and other caffeinated beverages can all interfere with your ability to get to sleep, especially if consumed in the afternoon or later. Limit alcohol: even though alcohol may bring temporary stress relief and can make you sleepy, the sleep you get when buzzed is typically of lower quality.
Exercise and Relax: Physical activity has been shown to be a crucial part of getting better sleep. Try instituting a yoga routine during the day to get your heart rate up and a more sedate version of the same stretches to help you relax at bedtime, making it easier for you to fall asleep.
Invest in a Better Bed: If you find yourself tossing and turning at night or waking up with aches and pains, it might be time to give some serious thought to investing in a premium memory foam mattress, especially if your old bed is feeling lumpy and bumpy.
Talk with Your Doctor: If you’ve followed all of these tips but you still find yourself struggling with fatigue or even depression, it might be time to reach out to your healthcare professional for some help with addressing your insomnia and baby blues.
Better Sleep for New Fathers
Just because mothers are handling the majority of feedings and other childcare tasks, many people think that new dads don’t have as many sleep-related problems to deal with when it comes to parenting a newborn.
But the fact of the matter is that an infant is going to create some challenges for both parents, and can create some serious sleep disturbances for new moms and dads.
Top Sleep Tips for New Dads
Warding off sleep deprivation is an important part of self-care for the fathers of newborns, both for their own health and happiness, as well as that of their partner and little bundle of joy, as well.
Let’s take a look at some of the best sleep advice for dads with a new baby:
Upgrade Your Sleep Zone: You and your partner will both sleep better with new and improved bedding and an upgraded mattress. Look into investing in better sleep by finding the right mattress for you both, if you want to cut way down on sleep disturbances.
Take It Easy on the Coffee: While it might be tempting to increase your caffeine intake to make sure that you’re awake enough to help your partner with the new baby, it can backfire at bedtime by keeping you awake longer than you’d like.
Seek Alternatives to Stay Alert: Instead of picking up a cup of Joe or an energy drink, you might want to try taking brisk walks, listening to upbeat music, or taking a cool shower to help keep you attentive and focused during the day.
Cut Back on the Booze: Just as it can for new moms, alcohol can disrupt the sleep of new dads, and should be avoided if you want to get a full night of high-quality rest.
Even More Tips for Getting Better Sleep
Now that you’ve learned how to get through pregnancy and the first year of being a new parent without missing out on any of the rest you need to thrive, you might want to take a look at these related articles that focus on getting you top-notch sleep every night.