The second trimester is an exciting time in pregnancy, with morning sickness abating and the baby bump starting to show. For most women, the second trimester is also a relief in terms of sleep quality. Still, there are a number of factors to take into consideration if you want to sleep well during your second trimester.
We’ll go over whether it’s ok to sleep on your back and stomach while pregnant in your second trimester. We’ll also take a look at some of the common sleep conditions that can arise during the second trimester, including sleep apnea and heartburn, and provide advice on how to improve the quality of your sleep.
Most women find it much easier to sleep in the second trimester compared with the first and third trimesters. Stabilizing hormone levels give you a welcome break from morning sickness and tender breasts, and the baby isn’t big enough yet to interfere drastically with sleep. Moreover, the uterus has moved further away from your bladder, reducing the frequency of trips to the bathroom.
On average, women tend to get around 7.5 hours of sleep per night in their second trimester. Our advice is to use this trimester wisely, preparing for the baby’s arrival but also prioritizing storing up energy reserves for the more taxing third trimester.
The second trimester brings a few sleep problems of its own. You may start to experience leg cramps and swollen feet, while weight gain and loosening ligaments in the pelvic area can cause lower back pain. Many pregnant women also have strange, vivid dreams and find that they tend to wake and fall asleep earlier, as in the first trimester. Headaches are also common, but most are benign like migraines and tension headaches. However, be sure to mention them to your care provider as they can sometimes indicate something more serious.
As the baby bump grows and the nasal passages start to get congested, the second trimester can sometimes bring increased snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Constipation and heartburn also plague some women, although the latter is usually worse in the third trimester.
At around the 20-week point, mothers will start to feel their baby move. For many women, this is the moment it dawns on you that you’re about to become a new mom, a realization that brings excitement but also anxiety.
The second trimester is your best chance at getting quality sleep before the baby comes, so it’s important to make this a priority. Inadequate sleep in the second trimester has been linked to gestational diabetes, stress, depression, and reduced quality of life. Sleep apnea, in particular, can be a risk factor for preterm delivery, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes mellitus.
Managing pregnancy-related sleep conditions and practicing healthy sleep hygiene can help you beat insomnia in the second trimester. This includes adopting the best sleeping positions for you and the baby.
Left side sleeping is considered the best sleeping position for later pregnancy as it allows for unrestricted blood flow to the fetus and kidneys. While this may not be necessary yet at the start of the second trimester, this is a good time to practice switching over to your left side. If you’re having trouble finding a comfortable position, a recliner may be a good option.
Stomach sleeping may be fine for the first part of the second trimester, until the growing baby bump makes this position uncomfortable. Starting around week 16, you should try to avoid sleeping on your back. This position puts the weight of the uterus on top of the inferior vena cava, which can cut off blood flow, cause swelling in your legs and ankles.
If you’re not a natural side sleeper, you can try using strategically placed pillows to prevent yourself from rolling over onto your back. A pregnancy body pillow or wedge pillow may help you to adopt a more comfortable position. Likewise, smaller pillows tucked under the waist and belly may relieve pressure, and a pillow between the knees can help improve the alignment of the hips and spine.
It’s best not to take medications such as sleeping pills during your pregnancy unless prescribed by your doctor, but you may consider other sleep aids. Mineral supplements and light stretching before bed may help reduce leg cramps. Some pregnant women use herbal remedies, although you should always consult with your doctor first. The scent of lavender is a relatively innocuous choice that may help some people sleep. Additional options include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT-I), guided relaxation exercises, yoga, and acupuncture.
If your bedroom is noisy or too bright, you may wish to try a white noise machine or an eye mask. Now that your body is growing, it’s also important to find a properly supportive mattress and pillow.
Regular sleep hygiene advice is just as valid as ever during the second trimester of pregnancy. Create a sleep-friendly bedroom by turning down the thermostat, quieting the noise, and blocking any potential light sources. Save your bed for sleep and sex only, and try to keep a regular schedule of waking up and going to sleep at more or less the same time every day.
In preparation for bedtime, put away the smartphone and laptop. The blue light from these devices delays sleep by fooling your brain into thinking it’s daytime. Instead of watching TV, try reading a book, listening to music, or practicing meditation and relaxation techniques. A prenatal massage or a warm bath are other ways to relax your body and mind in preparation for sleep.
You probably won’t need to visit the bathroom as often as you did in the first trimester, but it’s still helpful to drink your liquids earlier in the day and avoid caffeine. Likewise, to ward off heartburn, stick to smaller meals, and don’t lie down right after eating. Spicy and greasy foods can also trigger acid reflux. If you suffer from heartburn despite all these preventative measures, try sleeping on your left side with your head slightly raised, to keep the esophagus higher than the stomach.
Take advantage of your rising energy levels to get some morning or afternoon exercise, which is beneficial for fatigue and depression. As your baby bump grows bigger, exercises to strengthen your core may also help reduce back and leg pain, and pave the way for smoother labor.
You probably won’t feel as tired during the day as you did during the first trimester. However, if you feel the need to nap, try to keep it short and early in the day so it doesn’t interfere with your nightly sleep.
Pregnancy hormones can cause mood swings and anxiety, which can take their toll on your energy levels. Reach out to your support network to help you navigate tough changes or issues that might be stressing you out. If you’re kept awake at night worrying about everything you need to get done, try jotting down a to-do list to keep from ruminating.
To lower stress levels, try guided imagery, deep breathing, or mindfulness techniques. A prenatal yoga group may be a productive way of sharing your experience with other women while getting some exercise. Research shows that your coping style can have a direct impact on your stress levels, which affects your sleep quality. So, take this opportunity to pamper yourself.
If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue that seems overwhelming, always reach out to your doctor for help.