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When you were trying to get pregnant, you knew all about morning sickness and may have heard about early pregnancy fatigue, Braxton Hicks contractions and other inconvenient symptoms.

There is another pregnancy symptom you may not have seen coming sleep problems. That covers a lot, from insomnia to weird pregnancy dreams and just not being able to find a position that works for you. Sleeping comfortably during pregnancy can be a huge struggle. In fact, it may prove to be impossible. Still, we have some tips that may help you. 

Weird sleep-related symptoms you can expect during pregnancy

Pregnancy symptoms are as individual as pregnant women are, so you may have a combination of some of the symptoms we're going to discuss now, all of them, and if you are extremely lucky none at all. The symptoms you experience are not the same during each pregnancy either. There are a lot of different things that can affect the quality of your sleep during pregnancy, and your ability to nod off in the first place. Let's see:

  • Insomnia
  • Heartburn
  • A huge belly
  • Braxton Hicks contractions
  • A kicking baby
  • Leg cramps
  • Frequent urination
  • Midnight pregnancy cravings
  • The nesting instinct
  • Bizarre dreams

That's one long list, isn't it? I think Mother Nature puts all these obstacles on our paths so that we can get used to not being asleep at night well before the baby comes, meaning we don't take the anger out on the little one. Kidding. Sort of :). I had most of these symptoms during my last pregnancy, and a good number during my pregnancy with my firstborn too. Some of them, like craving chocolate cake at 3 am, were bearable (yes, I got up and baked it!). Others, like horrible, horrible heartburn, were not. Thankfully, solutions are available for most of them, though not all.

Fighting pregnancy insomnia?

Insomnia is an extremely common phenomenon during pregnancy, unfortunately. Not being able to get to sleep or stay asleep may well be related to your other nightly symptoms, so sometimes managing symptoms like leg cramps or heartburn can make the problem go away. Still, being relaxed is important as well.

You can get yourself into a good mood by doing yoga, meditating, or reading a book (one that doesn't stress you out!), or listening to relaxing music. A nice massage can do the trick, too! Not being able to find a comfortable position because your baby bump is just that large is a huge (mind the pun) part of why you may not be able to sleep. 

Here, experimenting with different positions may help. Some women like to sleep with a full body maternity pillow. Others find they sleep better in a lazy chair than in bed (no kidding). While you are looking for the best possible sleeping position, some tips on fighting other sleep-related symptoms:

Heartburn is, for many moms to-be, the worst enemy during the night. Over-the-counter antacids can actually have undesirable side effects for pregnant women, and they don't work for very long in my experience. You know what does work? Dissolving a teaspoon of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) in a small glass of water, and drinking it. It's gross, yes, and it doesn't feel nice while it is going down. But it works fast and is harmless.

Leg cramps are another major annoyance. You will want to wear comfortable shoes to prevent them, and make sure that you don't spend too much time in the same position. Before you go to bed, stretching exercises (find them on YouTube!) will help. If cramps hit, you may like to massage your legs gently or do stretching exercises.

Pregnancy cravings and the nesting instinct are both things that can turn up in the middle of the night. If you have a sudden urge to iron all your baby clothes after midnight, it could even be a sign that you will be going into labor soon! As for cravings, if you can't sleep anyway, why not spend your time "usefully" by enjoying some of the great foods you really want? In moderation, of course. :)

There isn't a cure for Braxton Hicks contractions other than moving position, but they'll be back anyway. You can't avoid getting up to go to the bathroom multiple times either, and your baby will kick right where and when it wants to. These are things you will just have to live with, for now.

Pregnancy dreams are probably inevitable too, but you may like to know a bit more about them. Why do these dreams show up? A combination of pregnancy hormones, stress about the pregnancy, and worries about becoming a mom may be to blame. I have friends who dreamed that their baby was going to be eaten by satanic cult members, that they didn't love their baby, and that the baby was born a different race and their husband left because they must have cheated. Ouch! All represent some form of preparation for motherhood, no matter how weird your own mind makes it seem. Good luck, and enjoy the ride!

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