The last trimester of pregnancy comes with a whole host of physical issues that make it hard to sleep. The main reason for this is that the baby is now big, and your body is feeling the impact on joints, muscles, and even the respiratory system.
If you are in the third trimester (or late second) and having trouble sleeping, read on to learn how you can solve that.
Why It’s Hard to Sleep in the Third Trimester
They say the first trimester is the hardest, which is true if you experience nausea and vomiting. When it comes to sleep, however, the third trimester easily takes the cup. There are aches, breathing problems, unbelievable fatigue (ironically), and other weird things happening to your body.
Some of the specific issues that make sleeping hard in the third trimester include;
Back and Hip Pain
The Sleep Foundation estimates that 2 in 3 women suffer lower back pain during the second half of pregnancy. While hip pain is not so common, 20% of pregnant women who have it have a hard time sleeping. This is because the ligaments around the pelvic bones (hips and back) soften and loosen to prepare for birth, making them more susceptible to pain when your baby sits on them.
Mental issues and discomfort
Interestingly, the principal cause of insomnia in late pregnancy is not pain; it’s anxiety and disturbed dreams. Depression, common in pregnancy, is also a contributing factor to insomnia. As for discomfort, the baby is putting more pressure on the bladder, meaning moms have to wake up and pee more at night. And if that doesn’t wake you up, the baby kicks, and the unbearable heat certainly will.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Ever wondered if your own snoring can wake you up? It will when you are pregnant. When the fetus is big, it presses the diaphragm, making you snore. For others, the snoring is caused by swollen nasal veins that make the nose stuffy. This happens to 3 out of 10 women.
Worst case scenario, you will also develop sleep apnea (a condition where you stop breathing for a few seconds and are forced to wake up). Both snoring and sleep apnea can affect the baby’s health, not to mention high blood pressure.
For some reason, the digestive system slows down in late pregnancy, causing mothers to develop heartburn. The burning sensation of acid rising back to your neck and mouth is impossible to sleep through.
Last but not least, 1 In 3 women suffer from restless leg syndrome in the third trimester. This is an uncomfortable and uncontrollable urge to move your legs, and it occurs when you are trying to sleep. The baby’s weight also causes leg cramps in many women, forcing them to wake up and stretch.
Despite all that, ensuring you get adequate sleep in the third trimester is still extremely important. In fact, you may need up to 10 hours of sleep at night to feel rested, and that’s not including a day nap. Carrying such a load is a lot of work, and your body needs as much rest as possible so aim for at least 8-10 hours per night.
Besides, poor sleep in the third trimester is associated with preeclampsia and preterm birth. In addition, pregnant women who struggle to sleep towards the end of pregnancy are more likely to go through longer labor and a cesarean section.
Tips for Better Sleep in the Third Trimester
The secret to better sleep during pregnancy is a combination of sleep hygiene practices, supplements, and a comfortable sleeping position;
- Have a consistent and relaxing bedtime routine that includes yoga or meditation, a bath, a good book, dimming lights, turning on a lavender diffuser and white noise machine, and sleep.
- Taking mineral supplements recommended by your doctor can help with restless leg syndrome and leg cramps.
- Avoid eating and drinking before bed and eating spicy meals.
- Prop your head up with pillows to elevate your head and prevent heartburn.
- Use a pregnancy pillow or several to position yourself comfortably, especially since you have to sleep on your side, which is not normal for many people.
Pregnancy Pillow to Sleep in the Third Trimester
Using a pregnancy pillow is among the best ways to ensure you are comfortable and pain-free in bed when pregnant. Ideally, you need a pillow to support your back, tummy, shoulders, and your hips by going between the knees. Most women prefer one complete pregnancy pillow like this PharMeDoc Pregnancy Pillow because it covers all those spots easily and snuggles you like a bear.
Read This Guide about U-shaped Pregnancy Pillow!
Alternatively, you can buy a few wedge pillows and place them where you need the most support (back, neck, between the knees, and belly). This hiccapop Pregnancy Pillow Wedge for Belly Support is soft, comfortable, and yet firm enough to provide optimal support where needed. We recommend getting both options because they will serve you at different places and times.
From my experience, the most comfortable sleeping position is lying on your side with your knees bent and placing a pillow between them and the ankles. This aligns your spine, making you more comfortable, and it also helps you feel less hot. A pillow on your back and beneath your tummy will add the needed support and help you sleep better.