Sunday, March 20, 2011

Oh sleep, where art thou?

I want this!
I'm a bit grouchy as I write this, as I just had another night of non-sleep. For the past week or so, sleep has become an impossibility that used to seem so easy and now is a struggle. This is not because the baby is keeping me awake at night (I hear from my mama friends that I have that to look forward to soon), but it's because I'm so uncomfortable.

I'm normally a back sleeper, but I'm told that by this point in the pregnancy, I should no longer be sleeping on my back. I have yet to ask my midwife about why this is, although "What to Expect When You're Expecting" tells me it's because the weight of your pregnant uterus on your back, intestines and major blood vessels can cause problems.

Instead, I've had to resort to side sleeping. This was fine at first, but now it's the bane of my existence. I get tired of being on one side, and it makes my hip hurt, so I have to turn over to the other hip (which is not the easiest turn with my heavier pregnant belly). Then that hip starts to hurt, so I turn again. By the middle of the night, both hips hurt, and it spreads -- my entire leg starts to cramp, mainly in the upper leg, and eventually down to the calf. So I keep snuggling closer to Stuart, seeking the warmth of his legs on top of my cramping legs. At some point very early in the morning, I often can't sleep at all because of all the turning and cramping and soreness, and then my brain also wakes up, and then it's 4 a.m. and I'm ready to do anything for the privilege of sleeping on my back.

Any advice out there from other moms? Someone recently told me it helped her to place a big pillow behind her back while she slept, so she could lean back on it a bit and sort of half-sleep on her back. Multiple people have also suggested I look into a body pillow, so maybe I'll try that. Frankly, I'm willing to try anything at this point.


  1. I have never been pregnant, but I have some advice on sleeping on your side instead of your back (advice the doctor gave me after spraining my back last summer in the car crash, as I also am an avid back sleeper). One was putting a pillow between your knees. The other was bending your top knee and pulling it out and toward your head, then leaning against it as you sleep. This takes a lot of pressure off your back. At one point, because my hip bone sticks out a bit and hurt while sleeping on my side, I put a small pillow under it and that helped... Also, since I had trouble sleeping shortly after the crash as well, I came across some good natural sleep remedies. Sleepytime and chamomile tea helped, as did stretching before I went to sleep (my muscles tended to cramp and spasm in my sleep). A hot shower or an epson salt bath also helped me sleep. I've also read that a small dose of sugar can help before bedtime. Just remember... the more you focus on the pain or being uncomfortable, the more painful and uncomfortable it will be, so try to focus on something else. It's funny how much our mental attitude plays into the things. Best of luck!

  2. I'm still sleeping on my back. You'll be able to tell if it's causing problems because it'll wake you and you'll feel dizzy. Only if you keep sleeping on your back despite that sensation could you be causing any harm. Also you can elevate your right hip slightly by tucking a small pillow or folded towel under it. I bunch the comforter up and cram it under there in the middle of the night! That's enough to alleviate the pressure of your uterus on the something-er-other cava. Let's ask Tara tomorrow--she taught me all this. Body pillow never helped me, only got in the way. Wrestling with it just woke me up more. Small pillows helped, like odd shaped,throw or decorative pillows. RE: leg cramps, try eating a banana before bed...and when cramping starts, I throw my leg out of bed and press my foot to the floor. Sometimes I can press it on the mattress, but sometimes it's too soft. I'll try to remember more joint stuff!

  3. What Melissa said. It's fine to sleep on your back if it doesn't make you feel dizzy/yucky - if you had a vena cava problem, it would wake you up. Definitely talk to your midwife about sleeping on your back if it worries you, of course, but it's fine. No matter what position I go to sleep in, I wake up on my back.

    As to leg cramps, again, Melissa has it. A banana before bed does wonders (and also may help with the heartburn you may have later on). Stretching my legs right before bed also seems to help, and even flexing my feet while lying in bed every time I wake up.

  4. Thanks for the advice, everyone! I've been trying the pillow between the knees, banana before bed, and a bit of stretching. But I still have leg cramps that keep me up throughout the night... I now have a body pillow, so I'm looking forward to trying it tonight. I hope it works for me! I'm also looking forward to talking all this over with my midwife and getting her advice.