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With only weeks to go before the little one arrives, you need sleep more than ever. But of course, that’s easier said than done. 

With a blossoming belly, aching joints, a bladder with near-zero capacity, and a never-ending to-do list, it may feel as if sleep is no more than a pipe dream. But it can be done!

Here are some tips to make sliding into sleep—and staying there—that little bit easier.

Aches and Pains

Why do they happen?

With more weight to carry, an ever-changing center of gravity and hormones causing relaxation of the ligaments around your pelvis and lower spine, back and joint pain is almost inevitable.

What can you do?

  • Improve core strength and encourage good circulation by staying active during the day. 
  • Maintain a more natural spinal position during the day by standing and sitting up straight, keeping your shoulders back and relaxing your knees. 
  • Consider a maternity band to support your burgeoning tummy and ease the pressure on your upper legs. 
  • Use pillows between your knees and under the side of your belly (or a pregnancy body pillow) to align your spine and legs in bed, reducing strain on your back.

A Full Bladder, Again…

Why does it happen?

The bigger your baby gets, the more pressure the uterus imparts on the bladder, making it feel full in no time flat. And it’s not just your bladder feeling the pressure—your lungs are compressed too, which can make you feel short of breath.

Drink plenty of fluids earlier in the day

What can you do?

  • Drink plenty of fluids early in the day, then ease off in the few hours before bedtime. And avoid caffeine if you can, as it can increase bladder activity and cause you to pee more. 
  • When you get up at night, use a red-tinted light to guide you to the bathroom. Blue wavelengths of light send a signal to the body that it’s time to wake up, but red ones don’t. 
  • If you feel short of breath, prop yourself up with a few pillows to allow your chest to expand more easily.

An Active Mind

Why does it happen?

There are no two ways about it: getting ready for a new arrival is a big job. With so much to prepare, your mind can be one stressed-out to-do list—causing rising cortisol levels that prevent you from sleeping.

What can you do?

  • Embrace the mind maze! Make a physical list and cross off an item or two each day. Enlist friends and family to help out. 
  • Rest your body for at least a few hours before bedtime and let the adrenaline wear off. 
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine to put your body into sleep mode. Herbal tea, candlelight, a warm bath or shower, and some good fiction can all help your brain to wind down. 
  • Avoid the blue-tinted light of LED screens (that includes your phone!). 
  • Combat anxiety: Make time to hang out with friends and share your woes; write down what you’re feeling; see a counselor. Whatever helps! 
  • Practice meditation or mindfulness to calm your thoughts.

Stay upright for a few hours after food to prevent heartburn

Heartburn

Why does it happen?

As you enter the final weeks, the placenta produces more progesterone to relax the uterine muscles. An unfortunate side effect is the relaxing of the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus, which makes it easy for stomach acid to regurgitate into the esophagus—causing heartburn.

 

What can you do?

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals to avoid filling the stomach completely. 
  • Stay upright for at least an hour after food to give the stomach a chance to start to empty. 
  • Sleep with your chest and head elevated. 
  • Avoid spicy, fried and acidic foods, especially in the evening. 
  • Avoid eating in the few hours before bedtime.

 

There’s no such thing as perfect sleep during pregnancy, but by keeping the tips on this list in mind during your third trimester you can maximize your comfort and maintain a healthier, deeper sleep.

If you’re still having significant difficulty, don’t resign yourself to sleeplessness – recognize when it’s time to see a doctor.