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reviewed 7/26/2018

Pregnancy and sleep problems

Get more ZZZs when you're sleeping for 2

When you're pregnant, your body goes through changes that can make sleeping difficult. Do you know what symptoms to expect when you're expecting—and what you can do to ease them? Select a + to find out.

Nasal congestion:

Your blood supply increases during pregnancy. This and hormone changes can cause a stuffy nose and nosebleeds as your nose swells or dries out.

What you can do: Gently blow your nose. Drink fluids, and use a cool mist humidifier.

Heartburn:

Hormones relax the valve between the esophagus and stomach. In your second and third trimesters, the growing baby also pushes on the stomach. These changes make it easier for food and acid to come back up and cause heartburn.

What you can do: Eat several small meals daily instead of three large ones. Avoid citrus, greasy, fried or spicy foods. Don't lie down right after eating.

Frequent urination:

As your baby grows and changes position, the pressure on your bladder increases.

What you can do: Do Kegel exercises to tone pelvic muscles. Drink fewer fluids before bedtime.

Aching back, pelvis and hips:

Your growing belly can strain your back. And the joints in your pelvis are relaxing in preparation for childbirth.

What you can do: Apply heat. Sleep with pillows behind your back and between your knees.

Leg cramps:

Your growing baby puts pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that go to your legs. This may be the cause of leg cramps in pregnancy. Lack of fluids and blood circulation problems can also cause leg cramps.

What you can do: Sleep on your side instead of your back. Gently stretch your leg muscles. Drink plenty of fluids. Get regular exercise (with your provider's OK).

Restless legs syndrome (RLS):

This sleep disorder is related to low levels of folic acid and iron. Symptoms of RLS include unpleasant feelings in the legs. Your legs may feel tingly or achy.

What you can do: Get enough folic acid and iron in your diet to prevent RLS. Your baby needs them too. Ask your provider what you can do if you develop RLS.

Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians; March of Dimes; National Sleep Foundation; Office on Women's Health

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