How to Sleep Like a Baby Before You Have Your Baby
Whether you’re just starting the first trimester or only days from meeting your baby, your sleep (or lack thereof) is probably at the top of your list of concerns. Between rapidly fluctuating hormones, a squished bladder and those crazy pregnancy dreams, getting a decent night of shut-eye can seem nearly impossible. While a pregnancy pillow can help with some side effects, there are more solutions that may help you sleep deeper, better and longer.
Most women experience a major drop in energy during the first trimester. The level of tiredness is often shocking to new moms who find this unlike anything they’ve experienced before. Much of this is due to changing hormone levels. Here are some problems you may face and how you can solve them.
- Hormone Changes: Progesterone levels that rise to regulate your reproductive cycle also make you sleepy. While there is nothing you can do to change this, you can find ways to get through it till you reach the second trimester. Don’t feel bad if you need to take a short nap, but don’t let it get too long or too late in the day to avoid interrupting your night sleep. If you find yourself struggling for energy in the afternoon, try a brisk walk instead of a nap to get a boost.
- Discomfort: Newly-forming breasts and an expanding uterus may also be uncomfortable and painful. You are allowed to take Tylenol when pregnant to control the pain, but a heat pad on your breasts or a warm bath may also help.
- Fluid Increase: You may also have to wake up during the night to visit the restroom, something you might not have expected until much later in your pregnancy. Your body is building up to a major increase in blood and fluid levels, so you need to drink more. While this is important, try to avoid extra water during the late afternoon and early evening to decrease nighttime urination.
- Morning Sickness: Whoever decided to call pregnancy nausea “morning” sickness obviously had little experience with it. Many women find that they can get sick at any time during the day or night, often when they least expect it. You’ll need to figure out what solutions work for you, but many expecting mothers find that avoiding fatty and sugary foods can help.
While the extreme exhaustion of the first trimester can leave you wondering how you’ll make it through an entire 40 weeks, take hope in the fact that these symptoms usually subside by around 13 weeks.
Most new moms can breathe a sigh of relief once they hit the second trimester. The first-trimester fatigue and morning sickness often disappear and you may feel a new surge of energy returning. Unfortunately, you’ll now have some new sleep obstacles to face. While frustrating, these can also be minimized or overcome with the right techniques.
Now that your body has ramped up the amount of blood pumping through your veins, you may also find your heart rate increased. This is due to your heart working harder to move the blood throughout your body. Try taking deep breaths to slow your heart whenever you feel your pulse increasing.
You can also put your newfound energy to good use when it comes to sleep. Making exercise a regular part of your day can cause you to be more tired at night and promote better rest. Ease into it if you spent the first trimester resting and be sure to follow any advice from your doctor. Even moderate exercise can help you sleep better at night.
Another thing you’ll need to do during the second trimester is get used to sleeping on your side. While you are free to sleep however you prefer up until 24 weeks, the right position is on your side after that point. The reason is because one of your main veins runs up the side of your spine and can get compressed by the pressure of your belly. Even when your baby is small, the extra fluid and placenta can weigh heavily on your vein. This can reduce the blood flow to your baby and create a dangerous situation. It can also make you feel sick and breathless, which can interrupt your sleep. Lying on your side can not only benefit your baby, but can also make sleeping easier.
Once you’ve reached the home stretch, you can rejoice in the fact that you’ll soon leave the pregnancy sleeping angst behind. While you’ll still find a few nighttime difficulties, there are things you can do to relieve them.
- Backaches and Leg Cramps: Your blossoming belly may stretch your midsection, but it can also do a number on other areas of your body. Your back and legs may ache from supporting the rapidly increasing weight. A hormone called relaxin is also coursing through your body to loosen ligaments in preparation for birth. If your leg suddenly cramps during the night, pull your toes toward your shin to stretch it out. Hot or cold packs can also be applied to painful areas to reduce swelling and inflammation. Another great way to sleep comfortably is to use a pregnancy pillow. There are several different options and styles so you can find the perfect one for you.
- Difficulty Breathing: An expanding uterus can reduce the space for your lungs and certain hormones and can also make it harder to breathe deeply. If you find it hard to get enough air when you lay down, you may want to consider propping yourself up on some pillows or sleeping on an incline.
- Heartburn: Reflux is one of the most common complaints of pregnancy. This is because hormones cause your digestive system to slow down and take longer moving food through your body, allowing it to come back up your esophagus. Antacid medications can help and sleeping in the right position (try propped-up) may also relieve indigestion.
While everyone may warn you that pregnancy prepares you for the lack of sleep you’ll get when baby comes, it doesn’t mean you have to surrender to nine months of insomnia. Try these tricks to get the rest you need and be ready to cuddle your new bundle of joy. Get more tips by following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instragram.