The last trimester of pregnancy can be the roughest. You're crossing your knees with every sneeze, praying that you won't pee. You're not eating as much at a time, because the baby is taking up so much room, there's not as much room for food to go.
You feel like a tank, and people need to get out of your way, because you are coming through! And it doesn't help that added to all of that stuff, you're wiped, pooped, needing a siesta, and ready to count some sheep. You're exhausted, and you can't figure out where your energy is going.
The thing is, you're probably missing out on sleep, and the sleep you are getting isn't as restful as it could be. As you get further along in pregnancy, your body needs more rest, but the problem is, the uncomfortable feeling, or backaches, or the need to wee, are all interfering with your ability to capture some quality Zzz's!
Here are some of the top reasons you may be having issues sleeping during the last trimester of pregnancy!
7 Heartburn Strikes Again
We've all been there, we wake up feeling like a fiery dragon has awoken in the pit of our chest, and the thought that one good burp will shoot flames to the ceiling of your bedroom. Welcome to the world of heartburn.
Many women first experience heartburn during pregnancy. It's a burning feeling that starts at the lower breastbone and rises to the lower throat. It usually comes and goes up until the baby is born.
When you're pregnant, the placenta produces the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the smooth muscles of the uterus. Unfortunately, it also relaxes the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach, which allows gastric acids to seep on up, causing that flame-throwing, burning feeling you get when you happen to munch on some pepperoni pizza before bed.
There's a lot you can do to help prevent heartburn! The biggest thing you can do is to avoid foods that are known to cause gastrointestinal distress, so maybe nix on the tacos with hot sauce. The things that usually cause the most discomfort are caffeine, chocolate, acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes, processed meats, mint products, and spicy, highly seasoned, fried, or fatty foods.
Also, don't eat big meals, instead eat several smaller meals during the day. Don't drink large amounts of fluids during meals. Don't eat too close to bedtime, give yourself two or three hours to digest foods before bed. Also, avoiding smoking can really help, because smoking boosts the acidity of the stomach.
Over the counter remedies that contain magnesium or calcium can also help, but speak to the doctor before taking one, since some brands contain aluminum or aspirin or are high in sodium.
6 You Are Uncomfortable
You toss and you turn, and you roll and shuffle, but no matter what you do, you just can't get comfortable. You try using more blankets, kicking them off, and you're still having a hard time sleeping. You are not alone. As baby gets bigger, your body is going to feel more awkward and heavy. Things you do all the time, such as getting out of bed or a chair, will take some extra effort.
Sleeping on your back will be uncomfortable because the weight of the baby presses on the veins in the lower back, slowing the return of blood from the lower body to the heart. You need to avoid belly sleeping altogether in the third trimester. It's not good for the baby.
Sleeping on your left side is the best way to sleep while in the last trimester, since it promotes better blood flow. Try to remember to fall asleep on your left side when you go to bed, and if you wake up, return to that position when you go back to sleep. Putting a pillow between your legs can also help you to feel more comfortable.
5 You Have a Backache
Unfortunately, while rolling in bed trying to get comfortable, you feel these aching, painful twinges in your back. You get a warm shower, you get a massage from your significant other, you even try yoga and stretching... nothing helps. So, yet another night is sacrificed to the aches and pains you feel. The third trimester, and pregnancy in general, can cause some pretty severe back pain.
There's a ton of reasons why back pain happens during pregnancy. The more likely causes include weight gain, posture and hormone changes, stress, and muscle separation. During a healthy pregnancy you'll gain between 25-35 pounds, and the spine has to support that weight, which causes lower back pain.
Pregnancy also shifts the center of gravity, making you gradually adjust your posture and the way you move along with it, which can also cause pain. Your body makes a hormone called relaxin that allows ligaments in the pelvic area to relax and the joints to loosen, and this same hormone can cause the ligaments in the spine to loosen, leading to instability and pain.
As the uterus expands, the abdominal muscles may separate along the center seam, which can worsen back pain. And finally, stress can cause muscle tension in the back, which can be felt as back pain or spasms. Many things can be done to ease back pain or make it rarer and more mild. Regular exercise strengthens muscles and boosts your flexibility, which can ease the stress on your spine. Applying heat and cold may help, as well.
Straightening while sitting can also help, since slouching strains the spine. If your pain is stress related, talking to a friend or counselor may help. Acupuncture and chiropractic care can also potentially ease back pain. However, none of these should be tried without making sure it's ok by clearing it with your doctor.
4 Oh, That Restless Leg Syndrome
You have heartburn, your back is killing you, and your legs are cramping... what more can be keeping you up at night? Every time you lay down, you're feeling tingling and a creepy crawly sensation in your feet and legs, accompanied by the overwhelming urge to move them. They have a mind of their own, and it's driving you crazy. This is the annoying symptom known as Restless Leg Syndrome.
No one knows exactly what causes RLS, but some believe that it has genetic causes. Other potential causes of RLS include environmental and dietary factors, such as iron deficiency, stress, or sensitivity to certain foods. And although you may notice it more at night, it's actually striking all during the day more than likely.
Unfortunately, this is one of those symptoms that you'll need to learn to live with until the baby is born, and symptoms generally go away within the first four weeks of delivery. What you can do, however, is keep a food journal. Note what you've eaten before your RLS flares up, and you may be able to figure out what foods make your symptoms improve or worsen.
You can get tested for iron-deficiency anemia, which some think may be linked to RLS. A warm bath or a heating pad or ice pack can bring relief, and you can also try acupuncture.
3 You Have Frequent Urination
What else? What more can be keeping you awake? You feel this uncontrollable pressure in your bladder, and with a rustle of the sheets and a rush of movement, you scuttle, and that's putting it nicely since by this point, let's face it, you're no longer quite as graceful, to the restroom, where it feels like the water supply of the whole of Niagara Falls comes ripping from your bladder with the force of a tidal wave.
Since the baby has dropped into the pelvis, it has put pressure on your bladder, causing you to have less room to hold urine and you need to use the bathroom. Most women will be up and down at night with the need to empty their bladders. You need to stay hydrated, even though you know that you're going to be peeing all night long, so you can't avoid the need to go.
If this becomes too much of a problem, it's recommended to avoid fluids in the later evening hours, but again, you need to stay hydrated the rest of the day. Caffeinated beverages should be avoided because caffeine increases urination.
If you experience any pain or burning when urinating, you should see your doctor, because this is a sign of a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), which can develop into kidney infection if left untreated, and is also known to cause early labor.
2 Baby's Movements Are Waking You Up
During the day, these movements are melodic in a way. You watch your belly move and jump, and you smile, maybe put your hand on the rising lumps to feel the swirls of the kicks. But at night, those movements that you cherish during the day can be keeping you awake and making it so you can't sleep. These movements are important, they let you know that the baby is ok, but you need your rest.
Not all fetal movements are alike. Where one mother may feel fluttering, which is easily ignored, other mothers may feel stronger kicks and squirming. There's also hiccup movements. In the third trimester, the baby shows a bicycling movement of both feet. This is called stepping. By now, the movements are more restricted due to the decrease in space.
These movements are necessary, but there are a few tricks to try to help you sleep. The rocking movement of sex can lull the baby to sleep, and the baby sleeping can give you a chance to get some sleep. You can also rock on a birthing ball to recreate that rocking movement that causes babies to sleep during sex.
1 Braxton Hicks Contractions, Again
It's not quite showtime yet, but your body is gearing up for the real thing! You wake up in the middle of the night with your belly rock hard, and it can take your breath away. Rolling over does nothing to relieve this, and all you can do is wait for it to pass, and then try and go back to sleep. It's annoying, but there is nothing you can do about it. This, ladies, is the story of the Braxton Hicks Contraction.
This is your body's way of warming up. You wouldn't do heavy exercise without getting warmed up, right? Your body is the same way, and it knows that it needs to get ready. These contractions are usually weak, come and go, and are unpredictable. If you're having painful, regular contractions, then call your doctor.
Keep timing these contractions, especially closer to the end of the road, to make sure they're not progressing into labor. Breath through them, and they will pass. While sleep is elusive now, you do need your rest, so try and get some sleep whenever possible. Talk to your doctor for other ways to help with problems sleeping. Some people find that the scent of lavender can help you relax and help you sleep.
If nothing else, put your feet up and relax while watching TV... sleep may just come to you when you're not expecting it.