You’ve made it to the last trimester of pregnancy relatively unscathed. The morning sickness has finally stopped, your bump is positively blooming and your due date is rapidly approaching. Everyone is telling you to ‘make the most of the lie ins’ or to ‘catch up on your sleep whilst you still can’ and you know it makes sense, so why is it that you just can’t sleep?
The reality is, getting a good night’s sleep in the third trimester is often a lot trickier than it sounds.
Here are some reasons why you may be struggling to drift off or waking more regularly in the latter stages of pregnancy.
As your baby grows, they inevitably take up more space, squashing your organs including your bladder which may result in more regular urination and a more sudden urge to go when you need to. As a result, you may find yourself waking up to use the bathroom far more often in the third trimester, with some saying its good practice for those all too regular night feeds! Try and avoid drinking large amounts before bed, as this will only exacerbate the symptoms!
As someone who’s had both a breech baby and one who loved to regularly kick me in the ribs during the latter stages of pregnancy, I completely sympathise with the mom-to-be who simply can not get comfortable. Add in pregnancy aches and pains, the odd twinge or Braxton Hicks and sometimes the thought of lying in bed tossing and turning for 8 hours does not seem very appealing. A pregnancy pillow can be a huge help (even if it does act like a barrier between you and your partner). They not only provide support for your ever increasing bump, but also help ensure your spine and hips are properly aligned when lying on your side.
Heartburn and Reflux
Another common pregnancy side effect in the third trimester is an increase in heartburn and reflux, which can often be worse at night or when lying down. Try propping yourself up a bit more whilst you sleep and avoid heavy, rich or acidic meals too close to bedtime, instead opting for ‘little and often’ type meals which won’t sit quite so heavy on your (squashed) stomach.
As your due date approaches, it is also quite common to get those moments of realisation. The “OMG I’ve actually got to give birth” moments, or the ‘have I packed everything in my hospital bag’ doubts, which can often lead to a heightened anxiety or worry. Try and stay calm, practice your breathing and if you do wake in the night, avoid googling or aimlessly scrolling through social media (this is actually proven to keep you awake for longer). If you must, read a few pages of a book, do a guided meditation via an app or listen to a podcast – calm distraction is key.
One thing is for sure, with a newborn on the way, your sleep patterns are likely to be a little irregular for some time to come, but listen to your body. If your tired limbs and eye bags are telling you that you’re tired, there is no shame in taking a daytime nap to catch some extra z’s if and when you can!