Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sickness and Adventures in Getting a Good Night's Sleep

When I was pregnant with Brett, at least according to my hazy memory, I was pretty healthy. I think I only had one minor cold and it was near the end of my pregnancy. It was mainly just a chest cold that produced lots of coughing, and my wonderful OB was able to prescribe Robitussin with codine, and well, that pretty much took care of it.

This time around was a different story. I had a HORRIBLE cold that lasted about a week and a half and has only just started to clear up. It started a couple of weekends ago. I was totally fine, and then my head started filling up with mucus. I knew I was a goner. I have battled sinus infections my entire life, but this seemed to be 10x worse and the pregnancy seemed to make it even harder. Not only was I extra tired already from carrying another human being around, I also couldn't take any of the multi-symptom medicines I was normally able to take. I essentially laid in bed for about a week. Not fun, but at least I am past the worst of it.

But the real purpose of this post is really to address the tricky problem of sleeping when you are pregnant. I had planned to write this post a couple of weeks ago, but if you reference the above-mentioned problem, you can understand why I was not motivated to talk about it.

I am by nature a back sleeper. I even have a pillow that is one of those amazing memory foam pillows that supports your head while you sleep on your back. And, no matter what position I try to fall asleep in, I always wake up on my back.

Not a problem when you are not pregnant, but when you become pregnant and start reading all of the literature about what you should and shouldn't do, you find out very quickly that as your pregnancy progresses, sleeping on your back becomes more and more dangerous, and heck, practically "lethal" if you can believe some of the things you read. Essentially, the growing weight of your uterus puts pressure on key blood flow areas, like your aeorta. And, it cuts off the blood supply to your growing fetus. It's no big deal during your first trimester so I didn't really worry about it, but now that my belly is getting pretty big I am getting paranoid about it.

I always try to start off by sleeping on my left side (all research points to this being the optimal sleeping position as it is best for your growing baby). I even have my body pillow that I used when I was preggers with Brett. I feel kind of bad for Steve, since it kind of takes up half of the bed, but it's great for me to hug and put my legs around to take the pressure off. But, no matter how cozy I can make myself in that position, I always manage to end up on my back. Sometimes in the middle of the night I catch myself in a panic and quickly switch to the less desirable left, or even right side position.

And, I know this is just going to get worse. But in addition to fear of "dying in your sleep" I also suffer from the occasional charlie horse in my shin. Have you ever had one of those? They are horrible, and they are even worse when you are pregnant, and happen with more and more frequency. And, then, since my internal thermostat is so high because of increased blood volume, I need the house to be at igloo temps for me to be able to sleep. I worry about our AC bill this summer, and if the unit itself, which is 20 years old, will be able to make it through. If the room isn't like 32 degrees, I wake up in a major sweat and then I can forget even falling back asleep.

I have had a few bouts of insomnia thus far, but (luckily) I've had a few good weeks where my body sleeps pretty well through the night. I also am guilty of taking Benadryl or Tylenol PM to help me sleep, but they are both legal so I don't worry to much about it. I remember the worst happened during my 3rd trimester with Brett, and I'm about 23 weeks along, so the worst is still probably to come.

I just have to keep reminding myself... 17 more weeks, 17 more weeks...


Cathy said...

With both boys I could initially lay on my back, then I couldn't breathe there, and when your body can't take it, you won't wake up like that. Don't freak out.

amypfan said...

This particularly cracks me up, because just this morning, I was contemplating how glorious it is to again be able to sleep on my back. You'll get there! In the meantime, my doctor prescribed me Ambien for the final miserable days of pregnancy, and I found that a half a tablet worked like a miracle. Good luck!