Pregnancy and Sleep

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  • nighttime urination – the frequent need to urinate at night is a common feature of pregnancy and can result in loss of sleep.

TREATMENT:

Treatment for sleep problems during pregnancy is complicated by the fact that drug therapy can harm a developing fetus. For example, most drugs that are used to treat insomnia carry some risk and are typically not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing. However, by practicing good sleep hygiene, most women are able to manage pregnancy-related insomnia.

Most medications for RLS also pose risks to a developing fetus. Women most at risk for developing RLS during pregnancy are those with low levels of dietary folate and/or iron. This should be considered even before getting pregnant. Prenatal vitamins that include folate and iron supplements will help reduce RLS symptoms during pregnancy, but folate is better absorbed in foods (whole grains, cereals, and breads than it is in pill supplements; coffee decreases absorption and vitamin C increases absorption of folate from foods.

Overweight or obese women who become pregnant, women who gain excessive weight and women who report snoring should be evaluated for sleep apnea. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a safe and effective treatment for sleep apnea during pregnancy.

Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) can be treated with over-the-counter antacids.

There is no over-the-counter remedy for pregnant women who experience frequent nighttime urination but see "Coping" for what you can do to minimize the problem.

The good news about most of the sleep problems experienced by pregnant women is that they tend to go away once the baby is born, but women should still pay close attention to their sleep after they give birth as new sleep problems may arise.

COPING:

Sleeping well throughout pregnancy can be challenging. Follow these coping tips throughout your pregnancy to minimize loss of sleep:

  • Plan, schedule and prioritize sleep.
  • Unless your health care provider has advised against it, try to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day.
  • Sleep on your left side to improve the flow of blood and nutrients to your fetus and to your uterus and kidneys. Try