Sleeping Well When Pregnant

A healthy pregnancy includes following a healthy pregnancy eating plan, exercising regularly, looking after yourself and trying to get as much rest as possible. Sometimes getting the sleep you need can be difficult due to discomfort and aches and pains that come with pregnancy. Here Ali Pickles, Midwife shares some information about sleep whilst pregnant.

Sleeping Well When Pregnant

There are many factors that affect sleep during pregnancy. If you had bad sleeping habits before falling pregnant these can exacerbate. Sleeplessness in pregnancy can be unexplained. Some wives tales suggest it’s the body’s way of preparing for the lack of sleep you will have when the baby is born!

Tips for a Better Sleep

  • If you haven’t already in pregnancy cut down on caffeine. If you enjoy your coffee try not to have it after 3pm. Caffeine is in lots of things we eat and drink including chocolate, cola, tea and some desserts like mud cake and tiramisu.
  • In pregnancy increasing fluids is recommended however if you find your sleeplessness is due to getting up to go to the toilet you may find limiting your fluid intake in the evening may help.
  • If you wake up suffering nausea you may find it helpful to eat bland snacks before you go to bed. Have some crackers by your bed that you can nibble on when you feel the pangs of nausea.
  • Reflux and heartburn is a main cause of sleeplessness in pregnancy. Avoid heavy meals, eating later at night, eating spicy meals or meals rich in onion, cabbage and other bloating foods. Also try sleeping slightly elevated. Some women like to sleep in a recliner.

Causes for Sleeplessness in Pregnancy

  • Uncomfortable! As you get bigger it will become more of a challenge.
  • The pressure on the bladder from the growing uterus can make you have the urge to wee more.
  • Leg cramps.
  • Indigestion.
  • Nausea.
  • Being excited about having the baby.
  • Stress and anxiety.
  • An active baby.

How To Get Comfortable

  • Learn relaxation and breathing techniques to calm yourself down when you get into bed. Learning deep breathing techniques and progressive muscle relaxation can help the body shut down.
  • Pop some calming tunes on your iPod and listen to gentle calming music.
  • Have a pen and paper by the bed to write down thoughts rather than dwelling on them.
  • Go to bed the same time every night and wake up at the same time, even on weekends.
  • Have a bath before bed.
  • Pop some lavender on your pillow, or a heat pack infused with lavender.
  • Try not to exercise in the evening, your body needs time to wind down.
  • Having a nap of 30-60 minutes during the day can help but try not to go for longer than this as it can upset your sleep cycle at night. Studies have also shown that if you’re still working having one day nap during the workweek can help you catch up too.
  • If you’re finding you’re too hot during pregnancy you may be restless at night for the same reason. Have a gentle fan on.
  • Try not to use computers and smart phones etc. before bed. Lighten the room you are in before bed also.
  • Enjoy sex with your partner (providing you haven’t been told by your doctor to refrain). Sex gives out happy endorphins and can calm you down. Having sex will not hurt your baby.
  • If your baby is moving lots and you can’t get comfortable. Try lying on your left side. This is a position naturally used in the hospital by midwives. This position increases blood flow to your uterus and your baby. If you begin this at the start of the pregnancy it will be easier when you’re larger and more uncomfortable. Try not to lie on your back as it decreases the blood flow from the weight of the uterus.
  • Invest in pillows. Lots of them! One for your back, one for under your tummy, one for between your legs, one for under your head. You can never have enough!!!! Especially if you are suffering from hip pain, sciatica or pelvic girdle pain, pillows will help you get comfier at night.
  • If you’re feeling hungry or thirsty get up. The longer you lie there ignoring it the less time you will sleep. Get up have some toast, milk, crackers and hop back to bed. If you are lying procrastinating about going to sleep get up read a few pages of a book and try to sleep again when you feel drowsy.

Ali Pickles, Midwife

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