As I write this, 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 a million resources high and low, online and offline and yes, often when I should have been sleeping. These are the top 20 most recommended 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 less so the bigger the bump gets.
- Get a memory foam mattress – Another investment we made in the second trimester. It’s helped loads with the SPD and general joint pressure, but I can’t say it’s really taking the pressure off the bump.
- Put a pillow behind your back – This one could make you more comfortable if you tend to find you roll backwards while sleeping on your side. Sadly this one doesn’t work for me. I find myself propped at an odd angle that causes instant back ache.
- Put a pillow or wedge under your bump – For some, this can take weight off the bump and/or stop it moving too far to one side, which causes that horrid pulling feeling. I’m does work for some, definitely, but I’m not keen. For me it causes 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 – If you have reflux, feel breathless or feel like the baby is sitting on your spine, sitting up slightly to sleep could help. I found it makes my heart beat much harder and I feel dizzy so the next tip is better for me…
- 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!
- 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 thought 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). We ideally do this before bed as getting our minds racing with worries before trying to sleep wouldn’t help either of us, but if I’m really fretting, I will wake him up for a chat.
- 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, but I do try to wind down towards evening.
- 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! A humidifier helps to reduce that discomfort.
- Turn off the TV, laptop, iPhone, iPad etc – The blue light actually tells your brain to wake up. D’oh! I don’t always stick to this one, even though I know I should. Hard as I try, when it’s 3am and my brain is still whirring, 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 as much, which actually let me get more sleep!