Awake at Night? 6 Ways to Promote Sleep in Late Pregnancy 0
Is your growing belly keeping you from getting regular zzzs? You’re not alone. Matter of fact, according to Babycentre.com, more than half of all women in their third trimesters rate their sleep as poor. Late pregnancy symptoms such as leg cramps, heartburn, and frequent trips to the bathroom seem to prevent a good night’s rest for many exhausted mamas-to-be. However, aside from idealistically installing a portable potty in your bed, there are some realistic, natural ways that you can get comfortable and sleep more in late pregnancy in preparation for your babe’s arrival.
- Pay attention to what and when you eat
Aside from the nutritional needs that your baby has, eating to nourish your own body and promote relaxation is incredibly important in pregnancy. Hydrate as much as possible during the earlier part of the day and try to limit fluid-intake in the evening, as this will cause you to need more midnight bathroom breaks. (Be careful to still drink if you are thirsty, as dehydration is more dangerous in pregnancy than sleep deprivation.)
Snack often, snack smartly, snack before you go to bed, and snack during the night. Constantly keeping your stomach slightly full can help manage stomach acids. Eating a combination of protein and complex carbohydrate stabilizes your blood sugar. And, eating carbohydrates immediately before bed has been found to help relax the body. Also, keep snacks by your bed to prevent you from fully waking up to eat when you you’re starving at 3 am.
- Manage your heartburn
Although heartburn is often inescapable in pregnancy, there are ways to minimize the effects. Eating smaller meals more often will help, as will correct positioning of yourself in bed. Sleeping slightly elevated is one option and can easily be accomplished by raising the head of your bed on risers/sturdy books. Sometimes, it can be more restful to cuddle upright in a recliner during late pregnancy. If swelling is also an issue, then prop your legs up on pillows while still keeping your head and chest slightly elevated as well.
If heartburn becomes unmanageable, contact your doctor who can prescribe medications and/or supplements that are safe to take while pregnant. Magnesium, specifically, has been known to help with heartburn, relaxation, constipation, and muscle cramps.
- Exercise wisely
Well-timed aerobic exercise such as brisk walking and swimming are wonderful during pregnancy; however, try to exercise earlier in the day when endorphins are less likely to keep you awake. While yoga and stretching exercises may help your body wind down in the evening, most cardiovascular workouts will wake your body up instead of promoting rest.
- Take cat naps
Especially in late pregnancy, sleep when and where you can. While napping has the reputation of making it more challenging to fall asleep later, this danger can usually be ignored during the third trimester when rest – at any time of the day – is worth its weight in gold. If you find that napping late in the day does disturb your night’s rest, then limit naps to only morning/afternoon hours. Your goal is to be as well rested as possible for your coming labor and months of feeding a baby throughout the night.
- Practice meditation
Specific relaxation techniques and routines, including meditation, yoga and self-hypnosis, can help you de-stress after a hectic day and give you an opportunity to focus on your body’s and baby’s needs. Set aside time every night before bed to pamper yourself. Talk to your baby. Rub your belly. Perhaps have your partner massage your body. Listen to guided relaxation audio tracks and allow your body to slip into a peaceful slumber. As an added benefit, learning how to relax during pregnancy will help you relax during labor and potentially ease your birth experience.
- Get regular prenatal massages
Make sure to check with your care provider before scheduling appointments, but for most women prenatal massage is safe and beneficial. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), benefits of prenatal massage include a reduction of anxiety/depression, relief of muscle and joint aches, improvement in labor and newborn health outcomes, hormone regulation, reduction of swelling, improvement of nerve (including sciatic) pain, and better sleep.
- Journal through your pregnancy
Sometimes stress and fears about pregnancy and parenthood can keep you from sleeping well. Or, maybe it is the overwhelming, never-ending to-do lists that you can’t get out of your head. Take time to journal about what is bothering you. Allow yourself to explore any emotional trauma or worries and seek professional help if you find that you are dealing with unresolved issues, depression or anxiety.
Sleep during pregnancy is valuable and can often feel like the elusive prize. However, you don’t have to remain haggard in late pregnancy. Instead, talk to your care provider about alternative ways to manage your health and achieve more sleep for you and your baby. Article Sources: American Pregnancy Association. (2014, January). Massage and pregnancy – prenatal massage. American Pregnancy Association: Promoting Pregnancy Wellness. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/prenatal-massage/. Babycentre Medical Advisory Board. (2011, June). Sleep in the third trimester. Babycentre.com. Retrieved from http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a547418/sleep-in-the-third-trimester.
Author: Lauren Hasz
Photo Credit: Johnathan Nightingale, Flickr.com