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Pregnancy Sleep Solutions

What pregnant woman doesn't enjoy her sleep being interrupted 12 times a night while she goes to the bathroom, sniffles through a stuffy nose and rubs out a few leg cramps? (yeah, right) While you may theoretically get 8 hours of sleep at night, the sleep disturbances of pregnancy (a good way to prepare you for caring for a newborn in the middle of the night) can leave you feeling quite groggy the next morning. Below is a problem-solving guide to hopefully gain you some longer stretches of sleep.

Problem: Insomnia

Solutions: Take a warm bath and do some relaxation exercises before bed. Try to stop worrying about things like what color to paint the nursery or who to invite to the baby shower. White noise from something like a fan may help. If your baby is squirming and kicking, try rocking back and forth in bed or rubbing your belly to get him to sleep. If you can't sleep because you're worried about labor, arm yourself during the day with information from books and the Internet (take a pass on any negative stories you may come across). Try listening to Dr. Frank Lawlis's "Positive Birthing" CD. If insomnia becomes a chronic problem, speak to your doctor about taking Ambien or Tylenol P.M.

Problem: Back, hip and leg pain caused by carrying extra weight. Jane Hammond says, "I remember third trimester with my daughter Eden I was a bloated walrus! My hips hurt so bad, and lying on one side was taking its toll."

Solutions: Pillows galore! Consider purchasing a U-shaped body pillow made just for pregnant women, or just grab pillows from home and place one behind your back, one under your belly and one between your knees. Hanging out on a heating pad for a while before bed does wonders for lower back pain, but never fall asleep on one.

Problem: Leg cramps (I swear these were designed to prepare you for the pain of labor!)

Solutions: If you feel a leg cramp coming on, keep your toes pointed toward yourself. If you get a cramp anyway, massage the spot until the cramp subsides. Julie Dorset says, "I had bad leg cramps and the doctor recommended I take calcium tablets for them."

Problem: Having to get up to go to the bathroom every couple of hours

Solutions: Try not to drink too much a couple of hours before you go to sleep, limit your caffeine intake and make sure you go to the bathroom before getting into bed. Otherwise, unfortunately, there's not too much you can do (unless you want to wear Depends) since your baby has taken up residence on top of your bladder. Jen Wood says, "I was so thankful to finally have my kids and not be pregnant so I wasn't waking hourly to go to the bathroom. I actually enjoyed the 2 a.m. feedings because at least I could sleep for 3 hours at a time!"

Problem: Heartburn. Kyle Boeglin shares, "With both my boys, I had horrible heartburn and acid reflux during my third trimester."

Solutions: Keep some Tums on your headboard, nightstand or under your pillow. For worse heartburn, ask your doctor if you can use something like Zantac for longer relief. Kyle B. also says, "Toward the end of both pregnancies, sleeping propped up on pillows was the only way I could get any rest."

Problem: Hunger and thirst in the middle of the night

Solutions: Keep a bottle of water by your bed (but of course this will exacerbate the problem of frequent bathroom trips what a cruel joke!) and some snacks like those packaged peanut butter crackers. If you must get up, grab some milk and/or turkey, both of which contain the sleep-inducing tryptophan.

Problem: Stuffy nose

Solutions: Check with your doctor first, but sometimes a simple saline nasal spray will work just fine. Also, some doctors may recommend something like Flonase or ChlorTrimeton (which can also make you sleepy: bonus!) for allergies. Over-the-counter nasal sprays are recommended for use for no more than a few days, and only if nothing else does the trick.

So now you know you don't have to wake up feeling like a zombie in the morning just because you're pregnant! When one of these sleep problems strikes, just grab this handy article (better yet, post it by your bed!) for some instant relief. Happy slumbering!

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