Sleeping well at the end of your pregnancy can be no simple task, thanks to the many factors that make getting a good eight hours of shut-eye a serious challenge. Between the heartburn, restless legs, squished bladder, pre-labor jitters and uncomfortable size, it’s a wonder women in their third trimester sleep at all! But not to worry, moms who have already been there are here to share their very best tips for getting a great night’s rest. And you’re going to want to sleep as much as possible before your little one arrives and makes restful nights a thing of the past. In fact, I’ve heard people guess that you wake so often in your last trimester to get used to doing so when the baby arrives. I find this “practice” wholly unnecessary.
Follow these suggestions, and sleep while you can!
This one is admittedly easier said than done. However, there a few things you can try that should make a big difference in getting cozy. First, invest in at least one body pillow or one of those crazy wrap-around pregnancy pillows. Remember, it’s important to sleep on your side in the last stage of pregnancy. You’ll want to support your tummy so that all that weight isn’t pulling on your back. A pillow between your knees helps keep your hips aligned. It is extra helpful if you can place another pillow behind your back to help stop yourself from accidentally rolling onto your back.
Worried there won’t be room for your husband in bed after all those pillows? Some women sleep much better in a bed all their own. Remember it’s temporary, and maybe your hubby won’t mind shacking up in the guest room for a few weeks. So gather as many pillows as you possibly can and create the cozy nest of your dreams.
There’s really no getting around the countless times you have to use the restroom in the middle of the night. It’s important to stay hydrated, yet your bladder is being squished by a very large baby. Instead of slapping on an adult diaper (please tell me I am not the only one to consider it!), try to stay as sleepy as possible during those late-night potty breaks. That means peeing in the dark, maybe even with your eyes closed.
It sounds silly, but it really helps. When you flip on the lights, you wake yourself all the way up and then it can be really hard to fall back asleep. Once alert, you might struggle to get comfortable or have a hard time getting your thoughts to quiet down. So stick with low lights and think sleepy thoughts. Then crawl back into your pillow-filled bed and drift right back into the land of nod.
Heartburn can make any night rough, and it's very common in late pregnancy. Luckily, there are many things you can do to help put out the fire. First, you can try to avoid it by staying away from spicy and greasy foods—which is of course easier said than done when those cravings kick in! Sometimes something as benign as chugging too much water can cause heartburn, so your next line of defense is treatment.
Calcium-based antacids such as Tums are often safe to take while pregnant—check with your doctor and then keep a bottle on the bedside table. Some women swear by a shot of apple cider vinegar or pickle juice for combating heartburn—the idea being that you actually need more acid in your stomach, not less. (Maybe that's why so many of us crave pickles!) Another solution is to sleep elevated: Prop yourself up with lots of pillows or try sleeping in a recliner.
No, I’m not suggesting that you drink a hot toddy while preggo! But many moms find chamomile tea very helpful. This soothing tea works best if you use two bags, cover your mug and allow it to steep for at least 10 minutes.
That’s right, you can steep yourself a big steaming mug each night and then drift off into dreamland. Maybe you've already tried that. Tea not cutting it? How about a big old glass of milk? I craved milk like crazy when I was pregnant, and I found that drinking it before bed really helped. Try it warm with a little cinnamon and nutmeg, and sweetened with honey for an extra calming treat. Part of the effect of either beverage might be the ritual. It’s nice to take a moment, wrap your hands around a warm mug, and sip yourself into a wonderfully sleepy stupor.
This sounds like a no-brainer, right? You’re tired when you get up in the morning, for goodness sake! Plus, if you’re anything like me, just getting around in your third trimester is pretty exhausting. You see, it’s easy to skip exercise as your size increases and while you might be mentally tired, your body might not totally agree.
Moderate exercise can really help you get some shut-eye. And it can help you feel more awake and energetic during the day. A nice walk, water aerobics and prenatal yoga are all great ways to ensure that you go to bed ready for rest. Exercising in your last trimester has many benefits, including helping you get in shape for labor, but perhaps the best one is that it helps you get the sleep you need. So lace up those walking shoes or roll out that yoga mat, and get ready for a great night's sleep.
It’s totally normal to be nervous about your impending birth, whether it will be your first or your sixth. There is always some element of anxiety when you approach a situation out of your control. The best you can do is to trust your body and try to find ways to relax. I found listening to my hypnobirthing recording before bed extremely helpful. Any form of meditation would provide the same calming effects. Talking with another mom, your partner and your doctor or midwife about your worries can help them melt away. A nice warm bath or shower before bed can also help you get into a calm and sleepy state of mind. The same is true of a nice back massage, especially with lavender oil or lotion. It’s never been easier to ask your partner for a little extra TLC. After all, the reason you need that back rub is because you’re growing their baby!
When you’re pregnant, you get used to not being able to take much medicine. I remember buying Advil every time I went to the store in anticipation of when I’d actually be able to take it again! But you don’t have to suffer through a whole trimester full of sleepless nights. Talk to your doctor about a safe sleep aid. I found Unisom to be a total life saver on those nights when I was getting zero shut-eye.
Other moms have had a lot of luck with a magnesium supplement, but again check with your doctor first. Magnesium is kind of a magic mineral—it can be a big help when it comes to combating restless leg syndrome and calming nerves. So before you feel cursed to weeks of counting endless sheep, check with your doctor or midwife to see if there is something you can take. You might be pleasantly surprised.
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