Medical Disclaimer: The content on this page should not be taken as medical advice or used as a recommendation for any specific treatment or medication. Always consult your doctor before taking a new medication or changing your current treatment.
The second trimester of pregnancy causes a number of changes to the body. For many people, the second trimester may bring relief from some uncomfortable symptoms, including sleep troubles. Still, there are a number of factors to take into consideration for optimal sleep during your second trimester. We explore the effects of stomach, side, and back sleeping during the second trimester, and examine potential causes and treatments for common pregnancy-related sleep conditions, including sleep apnea and heartburn.
How Does Sleep Change in the Second Trimester?
Many people find it easier to sleep in the second trimester compared to the first and third trimesters. Stabilizing hormone levels can give a welcome break from morning sickness and tender breasts, and the baby is usually not yet large enough to interfere drastically with sleep. Moreover, the uterus has moved farther away from the bladder, reducing the frequency of trips to the bathroom.
On average, pregnant people tend to get around 7.5 hours of sleep per night in their second trimester. It can be beneficial to use this trimester to rest and prepare for the baby’s arrival.
However, the second trimester brings some sleep problems of its own. Pregnant people may experience leg cramps and swollen feet. Weight gain and loosening ligaments in the pelvic area can cause lower back pain . Many pregnant people also have strange, vivid dreams and find that they tend to wake and fall asleep earlier during this trimester. Headaches are also common, but most are benign like migraines and tension headaches. It is important to mention these symptoms to a health care provider, as they can sometimes indicate something more serious.
The second trimester may bring about congestion of the nasal passages , which may trigger increased snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Constipation and heartburn also plague some people, although the latter is usually worse in the third trimester.
Why Sleep Is Important During Your Second Trimester
The second trimester is a good opportunity to get quality sleep before the baby comes, and prioritizing sleep is beneficial for a healthy pregnancy. 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 prevent insomnia in the second trimester. This includes adopting the best sleeping positions for you and the baby.
When Should I Stop Sleeping on My Stomach During Pregnancy?
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 and cause swelling in your legs and ankles.
What Is the Best Second Trimester Sleeping Position?
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 are not a natural side sleeper, you can try using strategically placed pillows to prevent yourself from rolling over onto your back while asleep. A pregnancy body pillow or wedge pillow may help you adopt a more comfortable position. 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.
Sleep Tips for the Second Trimester
Regular sleep hygiene advice is just as imperative during the second trimester of pregnancy. Create a sleep-friendly bedroom by turning down the thermostat, quieting 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 electronic devices. The blue light from these devices delays sleep by making your brain think it is 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 may not need to visit the bathroom as often as you did in the first trimester, but it is still helpful to drink liquids throughout the day and avoid caffeine. To ward off heartburn, stick to smaller meals, and refrain from lying down right after eating. Spicy and greasy foods can also trigger acid reflux. If you suffer from heartburn despite these preventative measures, try sleeping on your left side with your head slightly raised, to keep the esophagus higher than the stomach.
If you notice increased energy levels, try 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 might not 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 does not interfere with your nightly sleep.
Sleeping Products to Help With Second Trimester Sleep
During pregnancy, medications, supplements, and sleep aids should only be used under the guidance of a doctor. Mineral supplements and light stretching before bed may help reduce leg cramps. Some pregnant people 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 for insomnia (CBT-I), guided relaxation exercises, yoga, and acupuncture.
If your bedroom is noisy or too bright, it can be helpful to use a white noise machine or an eye mask. As your body grows and changes, it is also important to find a properly supportive mattress and pillow.
Mental Health Tips
Pregnancy hormones may 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 causing stress. If you find yourself worrying excessively during the night, try jotting down a to-do list or writing in a journal to ease the mind.
Guided imagery, deep breathing, or mindfulness techniques can help lower stress levels. A prenatal yoga group may be a productive way of sharing your experience with other pregnant people while getting some exercise. This is an opportunity to practice self-care, as research shows that your coping style can have a direct impact on your stress level , which in turn affects your sleep quality.
If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns that seem overwhelming, reach out to your doctor for help.