Why is sleep so elusive during pregnancy?
Most mothers-to-be hope to get plenty of sleep and be well rested when the baby arrives. But one of nature's dirty tricks is that just when you're most in need of rest, you can't get it because your back aches, your bladder's full, your belly's big, and your mind is teeming with fears and anxieties about your baby. Here are some of the reasons sleep is playing hard to get, and some strategies that might help:
Constant need to urinate
Your bladder's capacity has shrunk significantly because of your growing uterus. Drinking as little as possible in the hour or two before bedtime may limit late-night trips to the bathroom.
Since nausea tends to strike 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 or two in the morning.
Indigestion or heartburn
Avoid distending your stomach by eating small, frequent meals rather than three large ones. Eat meals at least three to four hours before bedtime, and sit up after eating. Lay off the citrus, spices, fried foods, and chocolate because they can irritate the esophagus. If none of these measures help, it's fine to crunch an antacid tablet after meals.
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.
It's 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. Some women find that exercising during the day helps them sleep better at night.
Whatever you do, try not to get too stressed over your lack of sleep – anxiety will only compound your sleeplessness. Avoid looking at the clock (knowing the time won't make you feel better), close your eyes, and concentrate on your breathing. Some research paradoxically suggests that trying to stay awake will slide you into dreamland in no time.
Worrying about your baby's well-being
Every parent-to-be is anxious about the many unknowns involved in having a baby. It may help to arm yourself with information. To ease your anxieties, read up and take a childbirth preparation class. Confide in your partner, too, who may be feeling the same way you are. Bringing your fears out into the open may help you get rid of them.
I just can't get comfortable. What should I do?
Join the club. As your pregnancy progresses and your body gets more unwieldy, getting comfy can be next to impossible. A maternity pillow or new sleep position can help, and even sleeping in a recliner or on a sofa may seem more comfortable.
Learn two easy ways to get comfortable and accommodate your growing belly during pregnancy.