Helpful Sleep Tips for the Third Trimester
Getting adequate sleep during the third trimester of pregnancy can prove to be difficult. Whether it's back pain, frequent urination, uncomfortable breathing, heartburn, or all of the above (as I experienced), here are some helpful sleep tips to get better rest as your pregnancy progresses.
It's typically uncomfortable to sleep on your back in the third trimester, but did you know there is also a good reason to avoid it?
Generally, women in their third trimester are encouraged not to sleep on their backs. When you are on your back, the uterus can compress the vena cava and reduce blood flow. It is best to sleep on your left side, as this will improve circulation.
Placing pillows between your knees, behind your back and under your belly will support the left-side lying position. A pregnancy pillow may also prove to be useful in providing extra support.
Comfort with Clothing
With hormones raging and increased vascular congestion, you may feel warmer than usual. Wearing breathable sleepwear such as cotton fabrics may help keep you comfortable and induce sleepiness.
If you've been dealing with heartburn, try to consume smaller, more frequent meals, with light food at dinner. Stay away from fried, spicy, or highly acidic foods that tend to aggravate heartburn and reflux at night. It helps to stay upright for a few hours to aid in the digestive process and keep bigger meals towards the beginning of the day such as breakfast or brunch.
Frequent Trips to the Bathroom
It's important to maintain adequate hydration throughout your pregnancy, but increased frequency of urination can interrupt sleep. Because the uterus is pushing against the bladder, and thanks to high progesterone levels, frequent bathroom breaks become a condition of pregnancy that we all have to come to accept. Cutting back on fluids after 6 p.m. may help prevent a few extra bathroom visits in the middle of the night, but don't deprive yourself of necessary fluids.
Physical activity is tremendously beneficial throughout pregnancy and can help relax you and promote better sleep. Taking a walk, getting fresh air, stretching and deep breathing are positive actions to make it easier to doze off at bedtime.
Avoiding stressful thoughts can be one of the more difficult tasks but one of the most beneficial to promoting restful nights. There is so much to think about in the third trimester in anticipation of baby's arrival; it can lead to anxiousness.
Worrying about the delivery, finances, health, logistics, or parenting choices are all valid, but these concerns will block the ability to sleep well. When possible, trying to reverse engineer nighttime thoughts will assist in creating a positive and empowering mindset. A quiet mind will help avoid anxious feelings and allow bedtime to feel calm and restful.
If any abrupt changes occur during the third trimester physically or emotionally, don't hesitate to speak with your healthcare provider. Taking care of yourself at the end of your pregnancy is one of the first acts of parenting and you will already be advocating for baby.
By giving yourself a break in the third trimester, you'll be preparing for baby without neglecting yourself. Self-care is so important to remember and an excellent habit to maintain throughout parenthood.
A support system that you can lean on becomes so important throughout pregnancy, but is especially as the delivery date approaches. Talking with others that will listen, understand, and offer words of encouragement can make a world of difference.
I would love to hear any helpful sleep tips during your third trimester. What helped you sleep better as your pregnancy progressed?
Linda Scruggs RN, BSN has specialized for over 12 years in reproductive medicine and women's health as a nurse. She is a mom of two young children and her work can be seen on her family health/parenting blog, as a contributor for The Huffington Post, and in one of the top fertility centers in the country. Follow Linda on Instagram @UnboxedMom, and Twitter @MOMtility.