This is a guest post from Philip Masterson.
“We never know the love of a parent until we become parents ourselves.”
The insightful words of Henry Ward Beecher, a 19th century American social reformer, remain true to this day. One cannot truly grasp the sacrifices of her mother unless she puts herself in her mother’s shoes.
For a woman, the journey to motherhood starts on day one of her pregnancy. The first three months, or the first trimester, is a critical period to both mother and child. The mother’s body is exerting double the effort to support herself and her unborn, thus she’s more likely to feel fatigued and sleepy.
During those first three months, many women begin experiencing sleeping problems. The discomforts that come with her condition often interfere with her usual eight-hour uninterrupted sleep at night, and tend become progressively bothersome to rest. Her growing abdomen makes it uncomfortable to sleep on her back and stomach, pressure on the bladder often forces her out of bed several times, while heartburn also disrupts sleep at night.
Getting quality rest is important to both mother and child, and thankfully there are a few ways to ease discomfort and encourage better sleep. Here are a few helpful sleeping tips designed specifically for pregnant women.
Changing Lifestyle Habits
Pregnancy often means changing some of your lifestyle habits. Your “all day caffeine” and late-night margaritas have to go, at least for now.
There is debate whether drinking coffee can cause health hazards to an unborn child. It is, however, quite definite that alcohol during pregnancy has a multitude of critical risks. Moreover, caffeine and alcohol (regardless of amount) can cause insomnia so there swapping out coffee and tea for herbal, caffeine-free alternatives can have a multiple benefits.
It is also important to eat a balanced diet. Remember that you are feeding another life inside you. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that an expectant mother should consume an adequate amount of calcium, folic acid, iron and protein every day.
It is also important to eat a balanced diet. Remember that you are feeding another life inside you.
Not only are these nutrients essential for both mother and baby’s health, these can also ensure better sleep at night. Eating meals at least a couple of hours before bed and choosing mild evening snacks may also help prevent indigestion.
Engage In Moderate Exercise
The National Institutes of Health states that moderate physical activity during pregnancy can help reduce the discomforts of pregnancy such as muscle pain, leg cramps and swelling. It can also improve sleep. Walking, water aerobics and yoga can do wonders to your health as well as your baby’s.
However, it is imperative that you speak to your doctor before engaging into any physical activity to know the safe level of exercise for you.
Sleep On Your Side
For a comfortable sleep, you should know the perfect position for you. Doctors generally recommend that pregnant women sleep on their side to keep the baby’s weight from applying pressure to her heart’s inferior vena cava. This vein carries blood back to the heart from the legs.
While there is no right side to sleep on, some caregivers advise slumbering on the left side to keep the mother’s weight from pushing down on her liver.
Doctors generally recommend that pregnant women sleep on their side to keep the baby’s weight from applying pressure to her heart’s inferior vena cava.
Hydrate During the Day
Generally, a mother should drink eight to 12 glasses of water each day. This can avert the negative impact of dehydration. Lack of water can lead to low amniotic fluid, reducing support for the baby inside the womb.
Dehydration can also cause overheating as a pregnant woman’s body is not able to get rid of body heat as easily. Sleeping during pregnancy is challenging, even more so when your body is as warm as a furnace.
Drink up plenty of pure water throughout the daytime but avoid too much liquid near bedtime to lessen frequent bathroom trips throughout the night.
Get a Comfy Bed and Lots of Pillows
Get quality sleep by giving your body all the support it needs. Since your torso becomes heavier, your lower body may suffer from muscle pains and cramps. A mattress that provides good support and plenty of cushioning for side sleeping is ideal.
When you feel the onset of a heartburn episode, lie on a sofa bed with your chest slightly elevated or use a few pillows to support your back and keep your upper body elevated. This will help keep the acid out of your esophagus.
For a comfortable sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs and on your back to support your hips. Experts recommend pregnancy wedge pillows of various shapes and sizes to customize support and comfort for your unique needs.
Acquire a Bedtime Routine
Sleeping troubles may not be new to you during pregnancy, and having a solid bedtime routine is helpful for good rest at any stage of life.
Researchers at Warwick Medical School warn that about 150 million adults are suffering from sleeping problems across the developing world. Sleeping has a vital role in supercharging productivity. A sleep-deprived person lacks the physical energy and mental power to function well at daytime.
One effective tactic is to develop a relaxing bedtime routine that doesn’t involve any electronic screens, which can throw off melatonin response and delay sleep.
The struggles are worse for expectant mothers due to the biological changes they go through. One effective tactic is to develop a relaxing bedtime routine that doesn’t involve any electronic screens, which can throw off melatonin response and delay sleep. A good ritual involves relaxing things like baths, breathing exercises, reading a book or listening to music. An hour before your scheduled bedtime, turn off your smartphone and TV and start winding down.
Cut Your Anxiety and Stress Levels
Every guide to sleeping for mother and baby includes stress management tips. The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests that stress may be keeping adults and teens awake at bedtime. In a recent study, APA researchers found that many Americans feel that “their stress increases when the length and quality of their sleep decreases.” Manage your stress levels by doing meditative exercises, clearing your mind and being mindful of your emotions.
Pregnancy is a momentous part of many women’s lives. The nine-month gestation period is delicate as several things can put the mother’s health, as well as her child’s, at risk. Paying attention to the basics like eating a balanced diet, getting moderate physical activity, managing her stress levels, and getting quality sleep each night help provide the foundation for a health pregnancy, and they all work hand in hand for wellness.