So you’re pregnant with triplets or more and you’re not sleeping? I hear you, sister. While insomnia during pregnancy is pretty common, it is often exacerbated for those carrying a multiple pregnancy ( as are most of the usual joys including heartburn, morning sickness and fatigue). When you’re already feeling exhausted throughout the day due to the load of growing a six-legged sea monster in your belly, the frustration of lying awake all night despite being completely wrecked is complete torture.
So why can’t you sleep? The common reasons for insomnia during pregnancy include:
– Needing to wee. The group of tiny humans using your bladder as a beanbag means you have to get up and go to the toilet frequently.
– Stress and anxiety. There is a lot to process when you’re expecting triplets or more. Not only are there the fears over preterm labor and health complications due to the increased risk factors that go with multiples, but you now have a logistical dilemma to sort out as well that you probably weren’t anticipating when you said, “Let’s have a baby.” Specialised equipment such as prams, potentially a new car to fit three car seats, financial concerns might all be racing through your mind making it hard to switch off at night.
– Back Pain. Not surprising really, but your back is copping quite a load at the moment. As you gain weight in the front, your back muscles have to work harder to maintain balance. Unfortunately, hormonal changes loosen ligaments, which can mean its’ easier to injure yourself too whilst pregnant, so remember to take it easy when you can.
– General discomfort. As your babies grow, the chance of finding a comfortable position to sleep will shrink. Since it isn’t considered safe to sleep on your back or your right side, and your tummy is, um, well…it pretty much leaves your left side for sleeping. Hot tip here: Try a long body pillow or even a couple of standard pillows to support your body as you sleep.
– Gas. Pregnancy hormones inhibit digestion, so it’s not your fault that you’re farting like jersey cow and burping like a truck driver. The feeling of bloating can cause pain and discomfort.
– Respiratory changes. If your babies are squished up against your diaphragm, you may find that you feel shirt of breath and this can make it hard to drift off and relax.
– Metabolism. Your metabolism is working like crazy right now, growing tiny fingers, organs and eyebrows! You may have trouble eating enough because you have crazy morning sickness and can’t keep anything down, or your babies are squashing your stomach so you feel full easily. If you aren’t having these problems, you’re probably starving hungry all the time! The absolute BEST advice I was given when I suffered from insomnia during my triplet pregnancy was to EAT! A protein snack in the middle of the night was the quickest way to get me back off to sleep. Prepare it the night before so it’s ready to go in the fridge. Try a hard boiled egg, some hummus, even just a small protein shake.
What can help with insomnia during pregnancy?
Well, apart from my tip just before about eating a protein snack if you wake in the night, there are some other natural things you can try to assist with getting a good nights’ sleep during your pregnancy. I’m not going to lie – “a good nights’ sleep” is probably a stretch, but surely some improvement is better than anything, right?
Exercise: As undesirable as it might feel to ‘work out’ during a triplet pregnancy, it will make you feel so much better! I’m not talking about a hard sweat session – walking if it’s comfortable to you, swimming, walking up and down the swimming pool and pilates are all really gentle forms of exercise that are usually safe to do during pregnancy. Of course discuss this with your doctor first because every pregnancy is different, but the physical and emotional benefits are worth exploring.
Vitamins and Minerals: There are some supplements and foods that can help with sleeplessness during pregnancy – make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D (thing fatty fish such as mackerel or salmon plus a great reason to get outdoors in the sunshine to absorb it) and magnesium (green leafy veg, bananas, avocados). You can also buy magnesium oil sprays that are absorbed through the skin.
Avoid stimulants: This might seem obvious, but if you’re snacking more than normal to keep your energy levels up during the day, you might be consuming caffeine, sugar or other additives such as flavour enhancers and preservatives that can interfere with sleep. Be especially mindful of your evening meal being low GI, as preservative free as possible and healthy.
Insomnia can be incredibly frustrating during pregnancy and in the back of your mind you’re thinking, “I’m not going to get any sleep when the babies arrive!”, which just adds to the cruelty of it all. Be kind to yourself. Set realistic expectations during the day when you’re tired – you are already doing an amazing job so please just make taking care of yourself the biggest priority.