How to Sleep While Pregnant: Everything You Need to Know (Part 3)

February 21, 2022

How to Sleep While Pregnant: Everything You Need to Know (Part 3)

Third Trimester
This is the most challenging part of pregnancy. As your weight increases and the pressure of the developing baby begins to have a direct effect on muscles, joints, and blood flow, the third trimester of pregnancy brings a lot of sleep challenges. Here’s what to expect during the final months of pregnancy before you meet your newest family member!

Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome causes an uncontrollable urge to move the legs. It manifests while the body is at rest, making it almost difficult to fall asleep. This uncomfortable condition affects as many as one in three women in the third trimester, according to research. Restless legs syndrome is often caused by iron deficiency, which is common in pregnancy. The best way to counteract this is to take prenatal vitamins and eat iron-rich foods like red meat and spinach.

Heartburn is common in the third trimester as digestion is still slowed down and because organs shift during pregnancy to make room for the growing baby. Up to 45% of women experience heartburn in the third trimester. While heartburn is difficult to prevent, most women find relief with medications and lifestyle changes such as not eating before bed, avoiding trigger foods like spicy and acidic foods, and sleeping on your left side.

Sleep apnea/snoring
During pregnancy, a large percentage of women experience snoring and sleep apnea. Snoring in pregnancy has been linked to elevated blood pressure and preeclampsia. Sleep apnea can make you feel tired due to lack of oxygen and poor sleep quality. Sleep apnea in pregnancy is caused by a growing uterus. Those with more severe sleep apnea can use a CPAP machine to help with breathing. Rolling over onto your side expands the windpipe and relieves sleep apnea symptoms.

Increased fetal movement
For many pregnant women, their baby begins kicking and moving as soon as they lie down to sleep. Daytime movements soothe babies in the womb so they end up sleeping most of the day. Night time silence can startle them and wake them up causing more movements at night. Feeling your baby move about may be soothing for some women, but it can make it difficult to fall asleep for others. According to the University of Auckland, 79% of pregnant women felt increased fetal movement at bedtime. To calm your baby, try moving around for a few minutes or have a light snack.