Pregnancy comes with a plethora of changes. The mental and physical transition I experienced sometimes made it difficult to sleep. For a first time mom, this can be very uncomfortable. From the first to the last trimester, the tummy continues to grow and causes physical and hormonal transformations which interfere with sleep. Additionally, there are certain pregnancy discomforts and pain that may interfere with sleep patterns and they include:
- Backaches as a result of the extra baby weight
- Breast tenderness
- Gas and constipation from the hormonal changes
- Headaches and fatigue from stress, hormonal changes, and increased hunger.
- Indigestion and heartburn
- Lower abdominal pains
- Leg cramps
My first pregnancy was heavily peppered with leg cramps and fatigue. These two conditions made sleeping almost impossible. However, I had to implement some few tricks to ensure that I get quality sleep. Some of top pregnancy tips and tricks that I recommend include:
1. Stacking Pillows
Once you hit the 20-week mark, doctors normally advise that you should mainly sleep on your left side of the body. This allows blood to efficiently reach the fetus and flow to the kidneys and uterus. However, this stage is normally compounded by issues such as back pains, leg cramps, stomach discomforts etc. This means that finding the appropriate sleeping condition can be hard.
Pillows offer great support and you need to stack them up. Put one under the side of your belly, or under your knee. You can also purchase the long and large body pillow that’s designed for pregnant women or build a wall using the regular pillows and place your legs over them. They offer support and comfort, reducing discomforts such as cramps and backaches.
2. Watching What You Eat
During pregnancy, the body may become sensitive to certain foods and drinks. That’s when you can experience allergic reactions which you have never encountered before. To ensure that you get enough and quality sleep, eliminate alcohol and caffeine from your diet. I remember experiencing a constant feeling of nausea but eating fiber-rich foods helped to promote long-lasting satiety, keeping the nausea away. Don’t forget to eat well-balanced meals because your body and the baby need all the essential nutrients for healthy development. Eat until you are satisfied because you don’t want to wake up at night feeling hungry or suffering from “snack-attacks”.
3. Implementing an Evening Routine
Personally, this is one of the best techniques that helped to enhance the quality of my sleep. The constant fatigue and stomach cramps, especially during the third trimester almost wreaked havoc to my sleep pattern. Establishing an evening routine helped me to get relaxed and easily drift to sleep. Some of the soothing and relaxing rituals I engaged in include taking chai tea or hot milk. Additionally, meditation and yoga proved to be effective in easing the mind. To top the icing on the cake, I would take warm showers with my favorite body wash right before heading to bed.
4. Be on the Move
One of the best ways of ensuring you get a good nights’ sleep is by engaging in light exercises. I used to take a 15-minutes’ walk in the neighborhood at sunrise daily before using the stairs to get in my house. Light exercises help to promote blood circulation and organ function, thereby reducing nighttime problems such as leg cramps. It’s important to exercises earlier in the day to ensure you are relaxed in the evening before going to bed.
5. Avoid Overthinking
Stress and anxiety are some of the most common causes of sleeplessness and insomnia. For an expectant mom, this is the phase that you need to be relaxed and happy. Remember that worrying doesn’t help or solve a problem. Dwelling on thoughts which will keep you awake at night is harmful to you and the baby. Dealing with the anxiety of being a first-time mom, I relied on family and friends for emotional support. You can ease your anxiety or deal with stress by engaging your partner, vent to family or friends, and if it’s serious, seek professional therapy.
When to Stop Sleeping On Your Back
You should stop sleeping on your back or stomach once your pregnancy reaches 20 weeks. Medically, this can cause health issues because your growing uterus can easily compress and alter the large veins that are found on the back of the abdomen, reducing the amount of blood that flows towards the heart. The eventual effect is that you will end up feeling nauseated and lightheaded because of low blood pressure.
Overall, pregnancy is an amazing experience. Nurturing a new life inside you is a fun and enjoyable journey that comes with disruptions such as sleep disturbances. These techniques will help you to get enough rest at night through the hormonal fluctuations, physical changes, and the baby kicks.