Big bump robbing you of much-needed Zzzzs? Nod off in a jiffy with these expert tips!

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You may think that sleepless nights will only begin once baby is here, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, by your third trimester, the changes to your body — both inside and out — can affect the quality of your sleep. And while your sleeplessness won’t harm your baby in any way, it’ll leave you feeling exhausted during the day.

So, listen to your body and rest when you can — even taking short naps during the day can help to keep your energy levels up. SmartParents expert and Gleneagles Hospital’s consultant ob-gyn, Dr Christopher Chong dispenses advice on handling common third trimester sleep troubles:

You can also voice your concerns to your hubby, so that he can offer his support.

PROBLEM #1: WORRYING ABOUT BABY

WHY? Motherhood is a huge responsibility, whether you’re a first time mum-to-be or the nth. From financial worries to making sure you are there for your older kid/s as you’ll be for your newest arrival, lots of things can cause you to lose sleep.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Dr Chong advises that you include relaxation exercises such as yoga or meditation in your daily activities. You can also voice your concerns to your hubby, so that he can offer his support. Just make sure to have the conversation during the day and not right before bedtime. Remember. you need to be in a calm state of mind to maximise your chances of getting restful sleep. However, if your worries cause you to suffer from serious sleep problems — such as insomnia — see a doctor instead of self-medicating.

PROBLEM #2: YOUR BIG BABY BUMP

WHY? By your third trimester, your once barely visible bump will have ballooned impressively, which can prevent you from finding a comfortable sleeping position. You’ll find yourself tossing and turning throughout the night before nodding off.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Dr Chong suggests that you invest in a comfortable mattress and firm pillows for better support. You may also want to buy specially-designed maternity pillows ― usually placed in between your legs ― under your belly or behind your back, too.

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PROBLEM #3: FREQUENT LATE NIGHT VISITS TO THE LOO

WHY? The weight of your growing foetus puts additional pressure on your bladder, so you can expect to make more trips to the toilet at night.
WHAT YOU CAN DO While it’s important you should remain hydrated during the day, Dr Chong suggests that you limit the amount of liquids you drink only before bedtime. This includes different sources of liquids such as soups, juices and even milk. Avoid coffee and tea as these contain caffeine, which can keep you up at night and cause you to urinate more often because of its diuretic qualities. Install a night light in hallway that leads to the bathroom as well as inside the bathroom to minimise the stimulating effects of your bright toilet lights.

PROBLEM #4: HEARTBURN

WHY? The hormonal changes occurring in your body during pregnancy slows down peristalsis, the process where food moves along the intestines. Another pregnancy hormone — progesterone — loosens the “valve” (called sphincter) that connects the oesophagus to the stomach. This way, it’s easier for acid to move from the stomach up to the gullet, which causes acid reflux.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Avoid consuming heavy or spicy meals late at night, so you’ll need stay away from fried food and curry. Such dishes require more gastric juices for effective digestion, which worsens your heartburn. Dr Chong notes that taking antacids before you sleep might help to neutralise your stomach acids. Also try resting your head in an upright position, he suggests. Thanks to gravity, sitting in an upright position helps to ensure your food stays down.

Install a night light in hallway that leads to the bathroom as well as inside the bathroom to minimise the stimulating effects of your bright toilet lights.

PROBLEM #5: SNORING

WHY? Higher levels of oestrogen in your body during pregnancy could cause the mucous lining in your nose to swell, so that you produce more mucus. This may give rise to snoring. In fact, Dr Chong notes that snoring is common among mothers-to-be, affecting some 30 per cent of them.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Apply stick-on nasal strips before sleeping, which will help to open up your airways and improve airflow. Nor will you have to worry about side effects because these are drug-free. Plump up your pillows, then resting your head in a slightly elevated position also helps to widen your nasal passages.

PROBLEM #6: LEG CRAMPS

WHY? While the real cause behind your leg cramps during your third trimester is unclear, fatigue from having to carry excess weight during pregnancy is a possible aggravating factor.
WHAT YOU CAN DO To prevent or minimise leg cramps, you may want to try putting your feet up as often as you can, when you’re seated, to relieve any pressure. Standing on a cold surface, such as an ice pack or a cool compress, may reduce the cramps. Otherwise, applying a heat pack or getting a prenatal massage may also help to improve your blood circulation. But if the pain persists, consult your ob-gyn immediately.

Photos: iStock

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