Alaska Sleep Education Center

Maternity Sleep Care

Posted by Stefanie Leiter

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on Apr 25, 2019 8:00:00 AM

A lot of energy goes into making Mommy stay safe while pregnant. Monthly appointments, blood work, and ultrasounds are no strangers to the process.

No sushi, hot tubs, and cold cuts may come as a surprise, but even more surprising is the lack of sleep Mommy’s get over the three trimesters even though their body is exhausted.

Anywhere from one to 10 percent of pregnant women have sleep apnea. The low numbers may cause you to shrug and deny the signs. Most do ignore the signs and believe it is another unfortunate symptom of pregnancy.

pregnant_woman_sleepingBut in actuality, sleep apnea is no laughing matter especially when sleeping for two.

Poor concentration, irritability, and stress can creep up quickly with lack of sleep. With these tips, Mommy can sleep well and save her energy in the 9 months leading up to their birth day.

  • Keep a routine for Mommy. Try a small cup of hot herbal tea without sugar. Ask for a foot rub from your partner though keep it light. Take a nice epsom salt bath if achy, but make certain your spouse or partner is around so you do not slip.
  • Exercise regularly if the doctor feels it is safe. Exercise will increase circulation, improves your mood, and helps you fall asleep easier at night. Light water aerobics are easy on the joints.
  • Increase water intake during the day and cut back at bedtime. You already will make the extra trips to the bathroom because of the extra pressure on your bladder so do not add to the frequency.
  • Adjust the temperature so you are not too hot or too cold. Since your blood circulation is working for two, normally Mommy-to-be will need less blankets and more air.
  • Avoid spicy and heavy meals close to bedtime. You may increase your chance of heartburn and indigestion or even sickness as your body works harder to digest. Yes, Mommy’s are hungrier more often so think about a light snack such as a banana, crackers and cheese, or a small bowl of cereal.
  • Sleep on your left side especially during the third trimester. This increases the flow of blood and nutrients to the fetus, uterus, and kidneys. To make the transition easier, start early in the pregnancy.
  • Buy all the special comfort items for Mommy. Special pregnancy pillows can go a long way towards nighttime comfort. Another pillow tip to reduce back pain is to lay on your left side with hips and knees bent and place pillows between your knees, under your abdomen, and behind your back.
  • Napping is a popular routine in a Mom-to-be’s day but to avoid restless nights, take a 20-30 minute nap well before dinner.

Some women can develop more severe sleep disorders while pregnant, or their pregnancy can make existing symptoms even worse. If your insomnia persists or seems to be getting worse, or if your sleep deprivation is due to Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), then the first step is to schedule a sleep study.beautiful-pregnant-woman-e1367608415676

You can take our quiz and find out if you do have sleep apnea if you’re unsure. For more common signs from first to third trimester, review the following symptoms as OSA advances in pregnancy.

  • First trimester: OSA occurs as a direct result of edema (swelling). Fatigue is also common. If you have been told you snore loudly or gasp and choke in your sleep, you may be developing OSA.
  • Second trimester: Any minor problems with OSA become apparent. Normal weight gain plus continued swelling contribute to OSA. Mucus membranes may also be secreting even more fluid.
  • Third trimester: Excessive daytime sleepiness may return with a vengeance, signaling the onset of OSA. This is when pregnant women also run the highest risk of becoming overweight. But even a pregnant woman with appropriate weight gain may still sleep without breathing problems at this time.


Dr. Marra Francis suggests discussing any sleep aids with your OB. However, Francis notes Tylenol PM as a safe choice since it is acetaminophen mixed with benadryl: both safe during pregnancy. Any other sleep aids could prove unhealthy for Mommy and baby.

Nasal congestion is common during pregnancy and could be the reason for snoring. Higher estrogen and progesterone levels increase blood volume everywhere — including to the membranes in your nose.

This causes them to swell and produce more mucus than ever, leading to a perpetually stuffy nose as well as postnasal drip later on in your pregnancy that might even cause you to cough at night.

Saline nasal sprays and nose strips are safe and can ease nighttime stuffiness. Some decongestants or steroid nasal sprays that may be OK after the first trimester.

After pregnancy and post-maternal care, What to Expect references studies that show cesarean sections are of higher probability in cases that involve apnea cases mainly because of the lack of oxygen reaching Mommy and baby.

Not only does it affect the mom, but is three times more likely for a newborn to end up in the neonatal unit for breathing issues after birth.

At the Alaska Sleep Clinic we help diagnose and treat a variety of sleep disorders including pregnant Moms. If you live in Alaska and believe you may be suffering from a sleep disorder give the trusted sleep experts of the state a call for a free 10-minute phone consultation. Don't let your sleep troubles get in the way of the joys of pregnancy, contact us today!



Topics: pregnancy, OSA

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