1. Why is sleeping so hard in the third trimester?
- The average pregnant woman in the third trimester probably wakes up at least five times a night. What contributes to this disordered sleep? The most common reasons are back pain as the pregnant belly grows, frequent urination (the urge to urinate increases as the baby’s head puts pressure on the bladder), disordered breathing from vascular congestion in the nasal passages (even women who never snore prior to pregnancy notice changes in the third trimester), and restless leg syndrome
- First, sleeping on your side (preferably the left) with your knees bent and with pillows between your legs and propped under your belly can help relieve some pressure off your back and help maximize circulation to the uterus. Some women will use a body pillow which is essentially similar to strategically placed pillows. Stretching, exercise, and prenatal massage can also help alleviate back discomfort.
- Second, we want you to be well hydrated, but cutting back on fluids 2 hours prior to bedtime can help relieve urinary symptoms in the middle of the night.
- Third, eating leafy green vegetables (foods high in folate and iron) can help with restless leg syndrome. Medications that are normally prescribed for restless leg syndrome do not have a well-studied safety profile in pregnancy and so, most providers are hesitant to prescribe them to their pregnant patients.
- If snoring is severe, it may be necessary to be evaluated with a sleep study to determine if a CPAP machine is necessary to ensure your airway stays open.
- Turning down the thermostat may help as well. As most pregnant women know, their body heat increases and they feel hot and sweaty all the time. Decreasing the dial a couple notches on the thermostat can really help ensure that you get the sleep you need.
- You may also want to make sure it's not reflux. As your baby grows, your uterus places pressure on your diaphragm and this can force stomach acid into your esophagus, causing severe acid reflux. There are many medications for reflux which are safe in pregnancy, but be sure to talk to your provider about these symptoms.
- And finally, don’t forget about the importance of sleep hygiene. Try to unplug prior to bedtime: too much screen time with tv’s, tablets, phones and other electronic devices can really affect your ability to sleep.
Hope this helps you catch some zzz's!