Pregnant women urged to nap more (like they need more of an excuse!)

Lack of sleep when pregnant may affect not only your mood and energy levels but your unborn baby.

University of South Australia research found that sleep issues may impact birth weight and fetal growth, and increase the risk of pre-term delivery and even stillbirth.

Tasking some good out of this information, pregnant women can go hard on those guilt-free naps! Doctor’s orders right?

side sleeping pregnancy

What are the sleep obstructions?

Maternal sleep apnea, sleep duration, sleep quality, and sleep position. These maternal sleep patterns could have an impact the health of the fetus.

UniSA’s Associate Professor Jane Warland says, “We already know that if a pregnant mother sleeps on her back, it can negatively impact the unborn baby, probably by reducing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the placenta.”

The researchers also found consistencies among mothers suffering from obstructive sleep apnea and the most significant finding (4 out of 5) was to do with premature births.

“The finding suggested a relationship between premature birth and maternal sleep apnea, with four out of the five larger studies showing a clear connection between the two,” said  Warland.

Tips for a Better Sleep

  • If you haven’t already in pregnancy cut down on caffeine. If you enjoy your coffee try not to have it after 3pm. Caffeine is in lots of things we eat and drink including chocolate, cola, tea and some desserts like mud cake and tiramisu.
  • In pregnancy increasing fluids is recommended however if you find your sleeplessness is due to getting up to go to the toilet you may find limiting your fluid intake in the evening may help.
  • If you wake up suffering nausea you may find it helpful to eat bland snacks before you go to bed. Have some crackers by your bed that you can nibble on when you feel the pangs of nausea.
  • Reflux and heartburn is a main cause of sleeplessness in pregnancy. Avoid heavy meals, eating later at night, eating spicy meals or meals rich in onion, cabbage and other bloating foods. Also try sleeping slightly elevated. Some women like to sleep in a recliner.

Adverse outcomes for an unborn baby remain a reality in Australia, with about 15 per cent of newborns needing extra care at birth, one in 10 babies born prematurely, and six babies stillborn every day.

Warland adds, “By investigating this important field of study we’re hoping to provide clinicians and families with important information that may safeguard the health and well-being of an unborn baby and reduce the incidence of poor fetal outcomes.”

Pregnancy plans

Did you know you can also download our FREE Birth Plan and Healthy Pregnancy Eating and Exercise Guide? Get it here.


You should also check out The Healthy Mummy Healthy Pregnancy Eating & Exercise Plan.

This Plan has been created to take some of the confusion out of pregnancy, giving clear guidelines on how to stay in your best possible health: what to eat, how to move and how to tackle some of the challenges of pregnancy, such as cravings and nausea.


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