Oh, mummy! When will the baby pop out? You’re ALWAYS tired! – JD, 3
I’m 33.5 weeks pregnant and I cannot sleep!! Why I’d forgotten about this delightful stage, I don’t know, but I’m determined to find a solution.
20 tips for third trimester sleep
I searched the web high and low (yes, often when I should have been sleeping), and these appear to be the top 20 ways to get some sleep in late pregnancy:
- Support one leg with a pillow – I’ve had the Mothercare Sleep Body Pillow since the beginning of the second trimester in a (successful) bid to reduce the symptoms of my SPD (softening of the pelvis) this time around. Yes it does help, but now I’m big, it’s just not delivering.
- Get a memory foam mattress – Another investment we made in the second trimester. We have a Silent Night Memory Foam mattress and again, it’s helped loads with the SPD, but I can’t say it’s really taking the pressure off the bump.
- Put a pillow behind your back – I can’t for the life of me work out how this is supposed to work. Either the pillow shuffles away, or I find myself propped at an odd angle that causes instant back ache. This one does not work for me.
- Put a pillow or wedge under your bump – Again, I just can’t make this work. A pillow under my bump just seems to create a slow pressure inside that gradually turns into an unbearable ache. I also tried the Mothercare Wedge Support Pillow but it’s really firm and only makes the problem worse.
- Sleep propped up on pillows - I guess this could work as a way to fall asleep, but I’m not convinced it’s good idea. I understand it can help reduce heartburn and breathlessness, but I find that lying on my back – even propped up – makes my heart beat much harder and I feel dizzy…
- Sleep on your left-hand side - Blood flow is the key here. Lying on your left-hand side apparently puts the minimum pressure on the vena cava that carries deoxygenated blood back from the lower body to the heart. I stick to this rule pretty religiously.
- Cut back on fluids in the evening – This is a totally logical way to stop every kick to the bladder sending you rushing for the loo. It’s particularly good advice for me as our bedroom is upstairs and our bathroom at the other end of the house downstairs.
- Lean forward when you pee – They say this helps fully empty the bladder. I can’t say I’ve noticed a difference, but every little helps, I guess.
- Cut out the caffeine – Another obvious one, really. I pretty much gave up caffeine as soon as I found out I was pregnant as it made me feel horribly sick. I now only drink it if I’m out and about, and never more than a cup, as I’m anaemic and it supposedly inhibits iron uptake.
- Eat small portions, and chew slowly – I’ve been ravenous ever since the sickness subsided, so I can comfortably wolf down an XL pizza in 20 minutes, but I soon regret it. To avoid heartburn at night, eat slowly and sensibly during the day.
- Avoid acidic, carbonated, fatty or spicy foods – These are all evil causes of heartburn apparently, which plagues me like a fire at night. Eating sensibly is easier said than done, of course. I’m in the camp that says cravings must be obeyed.
- Avoid clothes that put pressure on the bump – Opt for low fitting underwear, a loose fitting sleep bra (if you need nighttime support), and nothing with a tight waistband. Personally I can’t stand pressure on my bump at this stage, even during the day, so all my clothing choices are based on this rule.
- Try a warm bath before bed – This is supposed to relax you and your muscles, increasingly the likelihood of sleep and reducing the likelihood of cramp. I’m more of a shower person, but that seems to help too.
- Avoid perfumed products – This being my second pregnancy, the bump is a lot less itchy than it was last time around, but with sensitive skin at the best of times, I’m avoiding smelly soaps and sprays like the plague. It’s helping to reduce nighttime all over itch that can kick when the temperature rises.
- Talk to your partner (if you have one) - I do find I sleep better if I talk through a few baby worries with Mark (my husband) before bed, but I try not to have tough conversations in bed. Getting our minds racing with worries before trying to sleep wouldn’t help either of us.
- Don’t exercise too close to bedtime - Apparently it’s a bad idea to get yourself all revved up before trying to sleep. Frankly, with the bump as it is, I’m rather proud if I successfully climb the stairs at a regular speed, so you won’t see me at the gym anyway.
- Run a humidifier in the bedroom – Pregnancy can cause swollen nasal passages, which can in turn cause snoring and then waking up with a horribly dry mouth, and you don’t want to have to drink through the night – see point 6! I haven’t tried this one yet as it’s an expensive luxury, but I might if all else fails.
- Turn off the TV, laptop, iPhone, iPad etc - Another gem of advice that I find impossible to follow. Yes, I know I should be letting my mind switch off, but if it’s 3am and it still hasn’t, I’m going to need a distraction. As a compromise, I try to avoid ‘work’ after midnight – that’ll do, right?
- Have a walk about – Apparently, while tossing and turning will keep you awake, if you really can’t sleep, it’s a good idea to get up, have a little walk about, maybe a light read and then go back to bed. Personally, if I’m up and about, the laptop will go on, but I’m going to put the Kindle by the bed from tonight.
- Accept it as a normal part of pregnancy – Your baby won’t suffer if you’re a little sleep deprived, so stop clock watching and just close your eyes. If you sleep, you sleep, if you don’t, you don’t. This is actually my favourite piece of advice as it stopped me worrying and actually let me get a tiny bit of kip.