Here we are at 32 weeks, and the “honeymoon” phase of pregnancy has ended. Personally, I never felt or experienced this glowing time during the second trimester but I do notice that most things are starting to get harder, and sleeping is #1 on that list. During the third trimester women tend to have shorter periods of deep sleep, and wake up much more often. Some women even experience insomnia, a startling 75%!! I, unfortunately, am a part of that statistic. Between the many nocturnal visits to the bathroom, heartburn, and just a sensation of agitation and the inability to get comfortable, have made restful sleeping a distant memory!
An increase in water is a major culprit. There is a terrible catch 22 occurring with the recommended increase in water intake, to help with constipation and cramping, which turns into increased visits to the bathroom. If you have ever experienced a leg cramp, you know that you will do anything and everything you can to avoid this excruciating pain, including 3-5 visits to the bathroom every night. My first leg cramp occurred around week 28, and it woke me out of a dead sleep (oh, those were the days!). All I could do was shriek in pain while trying to reach for my toes. My poor husband almost had a heart attack, thinking that I was in labor or worse. Once I could catch my breath, I relieved his panic but had to have him help flex my leg to relinquish the tightness. From that night on, he requested that I just yell, “Cramp- left or Cramp-right,” so he could help out immediately!
Heartburn is another major factor when it comes to sleepless nights. As much as I try and eat dinner at a reasonable hour, it is hard to limit food as bedtime approaches. Here in the PNW our summers are awesome, and the sun does not typically set until after 9pm. Therefore, dinner does tend to happen later in the evening, as these dog days of summer stretch out. Also, bottom line… I am just hungry! Subsequently, food consumption typically occurs either an hour or so before bed, or about an hour or two after I go to bed. Needless to say, I keep my PregEase close by the bed to help curb my heartburn.
Positioning is another concern as my body grows larger. They say that you should prop your chest up to help with heartburn, but you should also sleep on your side… the left side particularly with a support under belly and between the knees to keep your circulation flowing as best as possible. As you can imagine, easier said than done, and this level of “comfort” requires a lot of support pillows. Our Belly Rest pillow has come in handy, as this pillow is small and adjustable to accommodate the growing belly. It is also a great asset for support because it not only offers support for the belly but also for the back. Unfortunately, you cannot maintain a strict left side only sleeping position due to the pressure on the pelvis, and therefore shifting from side to side is okay. Therefore, the Belly Rest can be used interchangeable for both sides to offer comfort and support. Just anticipate that any time you get up and out of bed, it will probably take you at least 5 minutes to get “comfortable” again once you return to bed.
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Unfortunately, the last culprit isn’t quite as curable…. Insomnia. They do not know why women tend to experience insomnia in the third trimester, but some research links some new hormonal changes occurring as the reason. The other typically link is just anxiety as d-day approaches. Obviously, there is nothing we can do to prevent the hormonal changes but there are things that can be done to help with anxiety and stress relief. I have started to jot down or talk out scenarios or concerns prior to bed, so that I do not let my mind go crazy as I am trying to settle down for sleep. Sometimes just getting out your fears (as crazy as they may sound) can help to focus you back to reality, and extinguish the angst. I have also begun to use essential oils to help to relax my mind and body for bed. Rubbing some lavender oil on the bottom of my feet really helps! Lavender is a natural relaxation technique, which can even be used on baby once she arrives.
Just 8 weeks to go!