It never fails, you are excited in the beginning of your pregnancy but also so very exhausted that sleep is usually not a problem.
During your first trimester, you may be so exhausted just from daily tasks that you find yourself able to catch a catnap anywhere, and at anytime.
Most times the daily tasks that were just a few months before were no problem are now leaving you begging for a few moments to just sit down before you fall asleep on your feet.
This situation does not remain the same as your pregnancy progresses however, sleep can become like an elusive butterfly that darts away every time you think you have almost caught it.
By the mid to last trimester of a pregnancy, most expectant mothers find themselves bloated, exhausted, short of breath and pretty much totally uncomfortable.
Sleep can become impossible, or at best very, very difficult. What is a sleep deprived mother-to-be to do?
Rest assured, there are a few tips and tricks that will help you gain some sleep during those difficult times when you either cannot get comfortable, or you just keep waking up.
1. Stop Drinking 4 Hours Before Bed
Waking up due to the constant feeling that your new baby is using your bladder as a trampoline is a constant reminder that you aren’t sleeping soundly.
The constant need to go is caused by the increased blood flow to your kidneys which also causes your bladder to fill more frequently, hence needing to be emptied just as frequently.
In addition to this as your baby grows, your uterus begins to exert more and more pressure on your bladder until you would swear you really do have a professional tap dancer in your abdomen.
One way to alleviate this is to stay very well hydrated throughout the entire day (this is so very important during pregnancy) but then to cut yourself off 4 hours before going to bed at night.
This will at least allow your body to process as much of what is already accumulating in your bladder so you can hopefully eliminate most of it before lying down for the night.
This means less frequent trips to the potty during the wee hours of the night and therefore a more sound night’s rest.
2. Eat Your Meals Upside Down
Are you laughing yet?
This doesn’t mean literally eating upside down, that would be upsurd.
What it means is instead of eating smaller meals for breakfast and lunch with a larger meal at dinner, do the reverse.
Have your largest meal earliest in the daytime so that when it is time to wind down you aren’t trying desperately to digest some late craving.
Eating a heavy meal in the evening can lead to quite a few problems as pregnancy progresses and baby grows putting more pressure on your stomach and GI tract.
Often women will experience indigestion or heartburn as pregnancy moves into its latter phases and this can lead to serious disruption in sleep.
It isn’t easy for anyone to sleep when you feel like a midget wielding a blow torch is inside of your esophagus so avoid eating a larger meal close to bedtime.
In addition to eating less for your dinner, allow your last meal of the day to be a rather bland one if you are plagued by indigestion.
Possibly a small meal with very little acid to it will help alleviate some of those problematic symptoms which will definitely impede your sleep.
3. Invest In A Body Pillow (This Is My Best Advice To You!)
This happens to be hands down my favorite investment when it comes to getting better sleep while expecting.
Once your belly starts to grow you may find your regular sleep position altered due to your new burgeoning form.
What often helps with more comfort during sleep is to put a common pillow between your knees while lying on your side as this can alleviate lower back pressure.
However, I find that just isn’t enough.
For true comfort, tuck an elongated body pillow under your oversized belly as well as wrapping your arms around it can literally mean the difference between sleeping and lying awake staring at the ceiling.
I have continuously used a body pillow throughout all of my pregnancies and it is also the first gift I offer to my girlfriends headed down the road to motherhood, it really is that amazing.
4. Cut Out The Caffine
You have likely seen and read a number of studies that warn pregnant ladies against ingesting too much caffeine.
However, many of the same studies will suggest that caffeine in moderation can actually help a woman’s extreme fatigue.
The other concern is that caffeine lurks in so many things that you may not immediately think about such as not only coffee but sodas, teas, chocolate, and (yes even chocolate or coffee flavored ice cream), certain pain relievers, and even non cola sodas.
No problem you say, you will just order decaf… it still has trace amounts of caffeine.
Cutting out the caffeine completely will aid in your rest and sleep cycle, especially if you are prone to a late night chocolate ice cream craving – don’t do it, get a good night’s sleep instead!
This is a no-brainer here. Exercise is ALWAYS good for you.
No one is suggesting that you take on a new strenuous routine now that you are pregnant, that is not a good idea either, but a simple long walk before winding down for the evening does wonders.
If you have other children, employ them to join you and make an evening walk part of your routine.
Like to swim? Even leisurely swimming can do a lot to wear a mama out later in pregnancy and the added buoyancy of the water lifting the weight of a large belly off of your tired back feels amazing.
The added physical movement can also help significantly to wear the body out for a good night’s sleep.
A very good habit to get into early in your pregnancy is to stretch.
Your ligaments and muscles will thank you for the added attention and as pregnancy progresses you will definitely notice a difference.
Simple floor leg and back stretches are good, slow hip twists and even leg flexes can soften tight muscles and lead to more relaxation which in turn will cue your body to start winding down.
All of these stretches will also aid your body as it begins the process to prepare for labor later in the pregnancy.
7. Find A Good Chiropractor
There are a number of good chiropractors out there that are specially trained in pregnancy.
Let me say from personal experience that they can be a lifesaver as your alignment takes a beating while your belly grows.
Often a good chiropractor can alleviate or even eliminate the all too common sciatica that plagues pregnant women.
The hip and lower back pains that come later in pregnancy are also significantly helped by routine adjustments that a chiropractor is trained to perform.
There are even women who swear that chiropractic care late in pregnancy helps tremendously with labor and delivery.
All of these things will help significantly when you lie down to sleep at night, when you are aligned and your back and shoulders feel good, sleep comes so much more easily.
8. Use Lavender
Lavender is well known for its calming properties and as a relaxation trigger for sleep.
Find some good lavender essential oil and diffuse it at night in your bedroom or spritz it on pillows and sheets before lying down to aid in a more relaxed environment for sleep.
Lavender essential oil is also safe and a good choice for a soak in the tub before attempting to relax in the bed to sleep at night.
Another idea is to rub some lavender oil onto the soles of your feet before bed.
Lavender is well known as being safe for use around other children as well so no worries there mama.
9. Ask For A Massage
This one almost goes hand in hand with the chiropractor but requires less training and if you have a willing partner, no cost.
Though there are professional massage therapists also trained in pregnancy massage, I am suggesting your partner be employed on this one.
There is something extremely relaxing and soothing about the touch of another when it comes to sore tired muscles.
Shoulders and lower back are areas that are often eased when massage is employed and let’s not forget the tired swollen feet after a long day.
The relaxation involved can definitely get the body ready for a restful night’s sleep.
Also, the act of receiving a massage also releases endorphins into mother’s body and increases blood flow throughout the body which in turn provides more nutrients and oxygen to both mother and baby.
Pregnancy can be for some an anxiety laden time full of concerns and worry.
If this is one of the areas that keeps you awake at night thinking or worrying, start journaling.
Allow yourself a good 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to just journal and free write about whatever is on your mind.
Often getting those concerns out on paper will allow your brain to rest and process all of the emotions and feelings that often accompany pregnancy.
Later when baby is snuggled softly in your arms this can be a time of reflection for you to go back and read some of your thoughts and concerns that did not come to fruition.
Know that by getting the worries out on paper, you will have a much easier time lying your head down and clearing your mind so that you can sleep well.
11. No Digital Devices In Bed
This is a great rule of thumb for anyone who is having a difficult time sleeping, however it can be even more important for expectant mothers.
It is very easy to spend hours pouring over the latest baby trends, advice or chat boards about mothering.
All of this can lead to an actively racing imagination and can also exacerbate existing worries over any underlying anxiety.
Keep the digital devices for daytime use and find something to read in bed instead, something without a tiny lit screen that can easily cause our brains to become more alert and less ready to sleep.
Make the bedroom a sanctuary for sleep not a haven of digital media.
12. Wear Very Little
Yes, I am well aware that may be what got you into this situation in the first place but in all reality pregnancy makes a woman hot (I am referring to temperature here).
Many women are very sensitive to having clothing tight or restricting on their abdomen (think elastic waistbands or tie strings).
Therefore sleep in as little as you are comfortable wearing and keep your room cool so that you are not feeling hot and stuffy.
A cool room will promote better sleep, and if you get cold you can always snuggle up to that body pillow!
Pregnancy is such an exciting time and you are about to have a life changing experience when your new little one arrives.
As you prepare for the next chapter it is important to rest up.
Follow some of these tips and you should at the very least be able to find a few restful moments here and there to enjoy some good night sleep before embarking on the next chapter of your new life!