Pregnant women often complain about sleep -- or the lack of it -- a lot. Whether it’s because of morning sickness, the constant need to pee, or just plain discomfort, difficulty sleeping is something that most expectant moms experience. If getting some shut-eye was as easy as just plopping yourself on your bed pre-pregnancy, the bun in the oven can make it more challenging to get that precious slumber. The good news is, there are ways around it:
1. Take a warm bath or shower. Being pregnant brings about a surge of emotions -- from happiness, excitement, to anxiety -- so relaxation techniques like this can aid in conditioning your mind to sleep. When you do, your body temperature adjusts, helping promote a tranquil state enough for you to start feeling heavy-eyed and ready for bed. But remember, just keep it warm. A full hot bath might be harmful for you and your baby.
2. Create a bedtime ritual and stick to it. Having your own snooze routine can help because it signals your body to relax and be sleep-ready. For some, drinking a warm glass of milk does wonders, so you can opt to consume the pregnancy milk your doctor prescribed before bed. Others also take this time to massage their growing tummy with stretch marks lotions or belly salves while talking to their baby. Some choose to write their thoughts on a pregnancy journal to document the journey. It’s really up to you how you’ll customize this routine; what's important is to be consistent so that your body gets accustomed to it.
3. Use pillows to your advantage. What do we mean by this? Simply stack those pillows on top of each other to create your most comfortable sleeping position. If you’re experiencing leg cramps, which is likely to happen sometime in your second to third trimester, you can also prop up two so you can raise your feet.
We also came across this nifty creation called Snug-A-Hug, a specialized pillow by Filipino entrepreneur Minnie Jumaquio, that hugs your body as you lie in bed. It is C-shaped, with two curves on both ends. The small curve cushions your head and neck and the long curve cradles your legs. The straight part can be used as a bolster either to support your back or your belly, thus relieving the pressure from those parts of the body. It also helps you maintain the correct position when you put it on your left side because it prevents you from rolling over. As you know, sleeping on your left side is a must because it promotes proper blood circulation. You can even use it as a nursing pillow or post-op pillow after you’ve given birth.
You can also check out wedge pillows in the market from Uratex, Mandaue Foam and Tempur.
4. Do not eat right before bed. Yes, those hunger pangs are powerful, but if you can, try not to snack before you hit the sack. Eating before you sleep can cause heartburn, which can effectively ruin your bedtime. Also, stay away from caffeine or chocolates which can cause you to be active than rested.
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5. Put away those gadgets. Moms-to-be who are in the habit of binge-reading parenting or pregnancy articles are guilty of this. Remember, though, that the light emanating from your gadgets causes you to be awake and alert instead of getting you ready for bed. Try to ban tablets, laptops or phones from the bedroom and get that much-needed rest while you can. Remember, you’ll probably be sleeping less once the baby is born.
6. Breathe. This is often overlooked, but it’s one of the most important things you can do. Do not underestimate the power of proper breathing. This comes second nature to everyone, but sometimes, when your mind is brewing with so many thoughts, you just forget to breathe correctly.Alou Santos, a certified prenatal yoga teacher from Urban Ashram, says correct breathing can help pregnant women sleep better because it helps them find comfort and calm. She suggests doing this: “Find time and space to let go of other agenda, sit or lie down comfortably, and close your eyes. Begin to breathe. Work on lengthening each breath and let it calm your thoughts and warm the body.” You’ll be surprised how this seemingly simple practice can help you loosen up.
7. Get into the zone. Into the bedtime zone, that is. If you must exercise before bed, do something non-strenuous like yoga. Alou likewise recommends expectant moms to remember this: open, stretch, relax. Some poses you can try before hitting the sack include a simple seated open twist, rolling cat, hip rock, and a variation of the downward dog where the hands are on the wall or chair. She says that these yoga poses can help alleviate difficulty in breathing, stress, lower-back compression and even indigestion, most of which get in the way of a good night’s rest for many moms-to-be.
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Stephanie is the managing editor of Top Gear Philippines. She and her husband are expecting their first child, a baby girl, this December.