Most mothers-to-be would probably prefer to get as much sleep as possible before the baby arrives, but one of nature’s dirty tricks is that just when you need as much rest as you can get you can’t seem to get it because your back aches, your bladder’s always “full”, your belly’s in the way and your mind is teeming with a host of different fears and anxieties concerning your baby.
Here are some of the reasons those zzz’s are playing hard to get and some strategies that might help you:
Constant need to urinate
Your bladder’s capacity has shrunk significantly because of your growing uterus. Drinking as little as possible an hour or two before bedtime may limit your late-night trips to the bathroom.
Since nausea (morning sickness) tends to strike on an empty stomach, eat a light, high-carbohydrate snack before you go to bed and keep some crackers or rice cakes on your night table so it’s easy to grab one in the morning.
Indigestion or heartburn
Avoid distending your stomach by eating small, frequent meals rather than three large ones. Eat well before bedtime and sit up after eating. Lay off the citrus, spices, fried foods and chocolate because they can irritate the esophagus. More on heartburn.
Many pregnant women are occasionally awakened at night by leg cramps. Try stretching your calf by flexing your foot heel first, gently massaging your leg, placing a hot water bottle on the cramped area or getting up and walking around. Eating more calcium-rich foods may also help.
Insomnia is very common during pregnancy to toss and turn with excitement and anxiety as your due date approaches. Try a warm bath before bedtime and a few relaxation techniques, such as those you’ve learned in childbirth classes. Some women find that exercising during the day helps them sleep better at night.
Sleeping comfortably during your pregnancy
You could try the following to get a better, more comfortable nights sleep during pregnancy:
This is actually two pillows, attached with fabric and adjustable Velcro tabs, that provide simultaneous support in front and in back. You can also use one of the pillows on your belly as a prop for a book. Available in pregnancy specialty stores, online stores and through catalogs.
This wedge-shaped pillow supports your belly when you lie on your side. You can also use it to prop yourself up to a semi-recline when you’re lying on your back.
Full-length body pillow
These pillows are at least five feet long and are designed to support the back and cradle the belly.
Best position for better sleep
The best sleeping position for a pregnant woman after midpregnancy is on your left side. This position ensures unobstructed blood flow through the body because the major blood vessels, the aorta, which delivers blood from your heart to the other organs, and the vena cava, the vein that returns blood to your heart from the lower extremities, are slightly to the right of the center of your back. Of course, we all shift position many times during the night, so don’t worry if you wake to find yourself flat on your back, but do turn back on your left side.