Sleepless nights seem to come along with motherhood, but you don’t want them to start now. Getting a good night’s rest when you’re growing a human is extremely important, but there’s a lot going on mentally, emotionally, and physically that can keep you from getting the best rest possible. Hitting that deep sleep is crucial at every stage, these helpful steps should have you feeling relaxed and well-rested while you wait for your bundle of joy.
First Trimester Your body may feel like its going through a lot physically, and rightfully so, but the challenges of sleeping with a third trimester bump are still a ways off. Your first few months are better spent with some much-needed self care and a good routine to wind down your days. Adopt a gentle routine for the end of the night that makes you feel refreshed and ready to hit the hay.
The early stages of pregnancy are rife with new hormone surges that might be having a big impact on your day-to-day life. The increase in progesterone, the hormone that helps encourage the steps your body needs to take to maintain your pregnancy, can take a toll on your energy levels. That sleepy feeling that hits you mid-afternoon can really take you down, so incorporating naps into your schedule might help keep you moving in those first three months.
Progesterone can also interrupt your sleep at night, throwing a little more fuel on the fire. It’s definitely unfair, but getting cat naps in where you can is just about the only solution to this first phase. In addition to the hormonal changes, you may find that your bladder has started to betray you—most expectant mothers experience increased urination in the early phases of pregnancy, which can make those restless nights even tougher.
The first trimester is a great time to start sleeping on your side if you don’t already. You may find that your body is more and more tender in certain areas, making it hard to sleep on your stomach or back. Sleeping on your left side can help with blood flow to your uterus and fetus, helping everyone get more out of their sleep.
Second Trimester Your body’s physical changes in this trimester may start to make sleeping in any other position other than on your side less than ideal, so that training you did in your first trimester should be coming in handy now!
While your nausea has probably eased and you might be getting some of your energy back, the second trimester can bring its own set of weirdness. Pregnancy nightmares usually start working their way into your sleep, which can be confusing, strange, and sometimes disturbing. You aren’t alone, though. A recent study found that pregnant women tend to have dreams that reflect their concerns about motherhood, delivery, and raising children, which makes a lot of sense. What might not make as much sense, however, are the most common pregnancy nightmares that women experience throughout their pregnancy. The pregnant women studied reported nearly 2.5 times as many “bad” dreams as the non-pregnant participants.
But what gives? Well, your baby’s nocturnal movements occur during this phase of pregnancy at a higher rate than early pregnancy and later months, which might trigger your brain to keep thinking about pregnancy themes while you dream. You also have a higher rate of sleep interruption, which can create the perfect storm for nightmares to start. Some soon-to-be mothers find that meditation, natural sleep aides, and even aromatherapy can help soothe worried minds and make sure you’re getting to sleep fast, and staying there.
Third Trimester You’re so close, but sleep can sometimes feel so far. Utilizing pillows and cushions to help relieve the growing pressure on your body will make sure you’re getting the most comfortable sleep possible. Placing a pillow between your knees with your legs bent is the ideal position for these last few months. Adding another cushion behind your back can also help tremendously!
Avoiding spicy foods and heavy dinners can prevent heartburn while you’re trying to get to bed. Light exercise (As recommended by your doctor, of course!) can also help put you in a better place to doze off. Some women find that lying down isn’t comfortable at all as they head towards their delivery date, but settling into a cozy chair can be a better fit.
You may also find that you’re running a little warmer at night than you have before—switching to 100% cotton sheets and lighter clothing can keep you cool and ensure that your mattress breathes as much as possible while you sleep. Some women start getting leg cramps at this stage. With light stretching before bed, proper hydration, and avoiding carbonated drinks you should be able to do away with those pesky cramps.
Hang in there, mom! You’re in the homestretch and a few minor changes should make you much more comfortable.
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