Every expecting mum knows she’ll have many sleepless nights once the baby arrives. What she might not expect is for sleep problems to begin early in pregnancy, much before the baby’s born.
If you have trouble sleeping during this exciting period of your life, you’re not alone. Research has shown that between 20% and 60% of women experience sleep difficulties at some point during pregnancy.
Whether it’s hormone changes, heartburn, anxiety or your growing belly the cause that keeps you up at night, making simple changes can help you sleep better while pregnant. After all, getting enough sleep is very important, both for you and your baby. Here are some quick, yet very efficient solutions to ease your pregnancy insomnia.
Invest in a Maternity Pillow
As soon as your body starts growing a baby, body aches kick in, making it hard to fall and stay asleep. In the first trimester, your sore breasts may be the reason why you can’t sleep in certain positions. Later on, in the second and third trimesters, your growing bump begins to put increased pressure on your back, hips and knees. This not only causes discomfort but also raises some safety issues as well. That’s why a maternity pillow is an essential sleep prop from the very beginning of your pregnancy.
Why do you need a pregnancy pillow? While sleeping on the tummy is almost impossible, sleeping on your back isn’t recommended. The pressure of your abdomen on your intestines and major blood vessels can cause various health problems, including lack of blood flow to you and bub. That leaves you with sleeping on your side, preferably the left one, as the only option. If you’re a tummy sleeper, you might find it very hard to fall asleep in other positions. And, even f you’re used to sleeping on your side, it can become uncomfortable over time.
Maternity pillows are designed to support you and your body during pregnancy so you can sleep comfortably in safe positions. They offer specific cushioning to support the changing curves of your body. With the help of a maternity pillow, you can mimic your favourite old position and trick yourself that you’re sleeping in it.
There are several types of pregnancy pillows. While wedges and smaller straight line pillows are best for providing support for the hips and knees, U-shaped and C-shaped are large ones providing full-body support. Is C shape or U shape pregnancy pillow better? It depends on your needs and preferences. C-shaped pillows take less space but offer one-sided support only. U-shaped ones offer support for both the back and front.
A pregnancy pillow can be very useful for the postpartum period too, both as a sleeping and breastfeeding aid.
Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
Pregnant mums go through a lot of stress and anxiety. Worrying if everything’s all right with the baby, fearing birth and completing your baby registry list can all be part of your daily agenda. Most expecting mums have to go to work and take care of other children. All that can worsen your sleep quality. Even if you don’t have an overthinking habit, stress levels can impact your sleep unconsciously. What can you do to help yourself get better sleep? By creating a new, relaxing bedtime routine.
In these stressful times, everybody should take their time to wind down before going to bed. And, creating a calming routine can be vital for your sleep during pregnancy. Although you must put in thoughtful effort to turn some occasional habits into a daily routine, it can be completely worth it. What are some ideas for relaxing activities? Everyone finds different things relaxing, meaning what will you choose to do comes down to your personal preference. These are some of the favourites among mums-to-be.
Take a Warm Bath
A bath or shower can relax you and soothe soreness that often comes with pregnancy. And, it can help you prepare to sleep. Add Epsom salt to your bath to reduce leg cramps and body aches. Although baths and showers are safe during pregnancy, avoid soaking in water that is too hot for too long.
Read a Book
Reading can be the perfect activity to help you shut down your brain so you can fall asleep. Avoid reading anything that can upset you, though, like tense thrillers or mystery novels. Pregnancy books are a big no-no, as well, as they can fill you up with more worries. Choose something light, such as baby name books. Other activities that can help you ease your anxious mind can be all sorts of crafting, knitting and even watching some TV shows. Avoid too much screen time, though, as it can impact your sleep for worse.
Try a Bedtime Snack
Many women claim that having a sleep-inducing snack helps them fall asleep. The trick is not to overdo it, as it can only lead to having more heartburn. Almonds, cashews, cheese, bananas and warm milk are classic sleep inducers.
Practice Mindful Breathing
Relaxation exercises that include meditation and deep breathing can help you fall asleep. They’re great for when you wake up in the middle of the night, as well. You can do such exercises alone, or with your partner. Many mums find holding their belly in those moments very calming. And some even sing lullabies to the baby.
Keep Moving Throughout the Day
As your due date gets closer, it gets harder to remain active. We get that! But even light exercise, such as daily walks, can improve circulation and help reduce leg cramps at nighttime. And it’s shown that active preggos sleep better than those that lay on the couch the whole day. Just make sure not to work out close to bedtime, as the dose of adrenalin can make it even harder for you to dose off.
Get Out of Bed
If you have trouble falling asleep, set a timer. When it goes off, get out of the bed. Many women find the middle of the night the perfect time for nesting activities, such as choosing clothes for the baby or preparing the nursery. It can tire you up so you can fall asleep faster. Some women find the idea itself tiring enough to get them back asleep. And, even if it doesn’t help, it’ll be time well spent.