Most moms find the third trimester of their pregnancy quite challenging. During this time, your body goes through extreme changes all of a sudden, which can cause several issues.
For instance, general pain and discomfort can lead to insomnia. Weight gain and pressure of the fetus on your uterus increase the need to urinate. Your joints, back, and muscles may ache, and you might experience swelling in your hands and face. All this can adversely influence your sleep.
Sleep-related issues in the third trimester can also cause other problems, like preeclampsia and preterm birth. Studies show that sleep problems in late pregnancy can also result in longer labor or cesarean sections.
Hence, a good night's sleep is extremely important for you and the well-being of your baby. To help you sleep better, you need to know how your sleep has changed and what you can do about it.
Causes of Insomnia in Late Pregnancy
- Back pain and discomfort
More than half of pregnant women suffer from lower back pain, often accompanied by sore muscles. Sleep disturbance due to back pain is more common in pregnant women with higher levels of anxiety and depression.
- Sleep apnea and snoring
During pregnancy, a significant number of women develop snoring or sleep apnea issues. While this condition is usually benign, it can be a warning sign of more severe health conditions. Sleep apnea can increase the risk of maternal morbidity and is correlated with gestational diabetes. Snoring is correlated with higher blood pressure levels and preeclampsia.
- General sleep disruption
Insomnia in late pregnancy is commonly caused by depression, anxiety, fetal kicking, night-time awakening, disturbing dreams, and pain and discomfort due to the baby bump. Expecting moms also experience sleep disruption due to frequent bathroom breaks caused by fetal weight against the bladder.
In late pregnancy, your digestive system slows down. This causes the digestive acids to come back up, causing a burning sensation in your chest. Many moms-to-be develop heartburn in the last trimester, making it harder for them to sleep.
- Leg cramps
Research shows that 33% of pregnant women find it harder to sleep due to Restless Leg Syndrome. In the third trimester, moms-to-be often experience uncomfortable sensations that cause an irresistible urge to move their legs. It happens more often when the body is at rest, making it hard to fall asleep. Several women also experience night-time leg cramps.
Tips for Better Sleep
Expecting moms can sleep a lot better during the third trimester by following good sleep hygiene, safer sleeping positions, and the recommended intake of vitamins and minerals. In addition, small changes in your routine can help you get a good night's sleep.
Avoid exercising in the late afternoon or evening to prevent leg cramps.
Take a warm bath before bed to relax your mind and body.
Prepare for a good sleep by keeping your bedroom cool and dark.
Avoid distractions in your bedroom. Leave the TV off and avoid using cell phones before going to bed.
Sleep on your left side. It improves the blood flow to your uterus.
Use extra pillows to support your body. Prop a pillow between the legs, tuck it into the small of your back, or lay it under your belly to get better support.
Prevent heartburn by eating smaller meals and avoid eating right before bed.
Light stretching exercises or mineral and vitamin supplements can help you deal with leg cramps or Restless Leg Syndrome. Consult with your GP before taking any medications.
Avoid fatty and spicy foods.
Try to stay hydrated during the day and avoid drinking water before bed.
When nothing else works, compensate for the lost night-time sleep by taking short naps during the day.
Sleep-related changes during the third trimester can make everyday tasks harder to manage. But by making small adjustments, taking precautions, and relaxing as often as you can, you will feel better rested.