Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Later Pregnancy Sleep - Can it Even Be Called Rest?

I get about 5 different pregnancy-related update emails sent to me each week. They usually tell me stuff I already know, but that is actually reassuring. For example, below is an exert from the article I received today from the Huggies Baby Network. I have experienced all of this stuff from time to time, and most of it quite regularly. Although I've luckily forgone many of the "daytime" troublesome pregnancy symptoms like nausea, major fatigue, swelling, etc., my sleep has drastically changed during pregnancy. Its amazing I get any sleep.

Getting a Good Night's Sleep in Late Pregnancy

You may be surprised to learn that in the last weeks of pregnancy, a mother's sleep/wake patterns align themselves with those of their unborn babies. So, part of the problem of waking up a lot may be Mother Nature preparing you for the upcoming reality of getting up over and over in the night to feed and respond to your baby after birth (Yep, Gizmo is awake at 11pm, 1am, 4am, and 6:30am). In fact, studies show that newborns are far more likely to be awake at night than in the daytime (wonderful!).

You may also notice that your baby becomes more squirmy every time you lie down (check). Your baby's space inside your body is getting very cramped, and his or her backbone may be knocking against yours, which causes scrambling to find another position (at least Gizmo has an excuse for being a little wiggle worm).

Then, there are the physical realities of this stage of pregnancy, too. Your heart is having to work overtime to support your growing passenger, who impolitely is also starting to move into your ribcage territory (yep, see previous post about Gizmo finding my ribs - its only gotten worse), making you breathe more often and having to take deeper breaths. Your baby is pressing into your major organs, your arteries and your bladder, especially when you're reclined.

Hoisting yourself up out of bed in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom can be a major effort that wakes you up, for sure (I call it the Beached Whale Effect). It's getting harder and harder to change positions in the night (tell me about it). It may be tempting to stay in just one position when you finally do find a "comfort spot," but unfortunately, that may mean that you wake up later stiff to the point of being nearly frozen (again, check).

Sleeping face downward doesn't work anymore (did it ever during pregnancy?), while sleeping on your back may make you snore, waking yourself up and making your partner restless, too (Scott says check). This is caused by swollen nasal tissues and the relaxing of your jaws and throat from the hormones that are loosening your body up for birth.

Plus, you may be suffering from a case of "restless leg syndrome" -- RLS, for short. It's that mild aching in your legs and a twinge-y, jumpy feeling in your calves that keep you tossing and turning and unable to drift off into deep sleep (this sucks - I have it often). One cause may be a mild case of anemia, since iron deficiency has been linked to sleep problems (strange, my iron has read normal at all my doc visits). Too little calcium and magnesium have also been associated with RLS, as has taking antihistamines (maybe its the magnesium because I eat a ton of dairy to keep my calcium up and I religiously take my prenatal vitamins and calcium supplements).

Anyway, the article goes on to give suggestions on how to sleep better - all the same suggestions they give anyone who can't sleep: warm bath, no TV in bed, take a walk at night, etc. These are all fine, but my problem is not that I'm not tired, its that all the stuff above wakes me up or keeps me awake. When your leg wants to move every 2 seconds, you can't sleep !

Plus, they give some more pregnancy-specific ones like change beds, use pillows, adjust the temperature to your liking. These I use all the time. I have my nest of pillows (2 for my head, one between my legs, and 1 on either side of me) that travels with me from bed to bed. Since I often wake up Scott, I have taken to using the guest room's bed quite often. Sad, but gives both of us a better night's sleep.

Also, Scott is thoroughly unamused by how cold I would like to keep the house these days. I used to be one of those people who was always cold. Not during pregnancy. I am always hot now, rarely wear socks and just switched out of sandals finally, and find my pillow nest and just a sheet (no blankets) keep me sufficiently warm at night. Scott & I have seemed to switch roles because I used to call him Little Furnace since he put off so much body heat. Now he shivers at night and wears his flannel pjs to bed becuase I refuse to turn the heat up or previously, turn the air conditioning down.

Thank God I only have 2 more weeks of this left. Then we will only have a screaming human alarm clock to wake us every few hours!

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