You’re embarking on the greatest miracle of mankind - you’re having a baby! Congratulations!
You’re excited, you’re nervous and you’re struggling to sleep. Meanwhile, your friends are telling you to get as much sleep as you can before the baby arrives.
But what they may not know is that it’s one of the biggest struggles for women during pregnancy. According to the National Sleep Foundation, up to 78% of women report sleep problems during pregnancy, compared to other times in their lives. As we write, women are taking to Twitter to help Serena Williams with just that problem.
The list of things stopping you from drifting off feels endless: frequent trips to the bathroom, Restless Leg Syndrome, heartburn and anxiety, to name but a few. So with all that (and others) how are you supposed to adhere to the advice of your friends and get a decent night's sleep?
This is where we are here to help.
Nail your daytime routine first
Try to incorporate exercise into your day-to-day routine, but keep it light, the key is not to exhaust yourself. If you can manage it, aim for a half an hour walk every day, if you feel a little more able try book yourself into a local prenatal yoga, barre core or aquanatal class. Women undertaking exercise during pregnancy have seen increased stamina in the labour process (stronger abs and a healthy cardiovascular system will help you here) as well as decreased back pain, a cleaner intestinal tract and better moods throughout the nine months. Make sure you always discuss your exercise with you maternity team and be sure to keep your fluids high.
Build sleep food into your supper
Whatever you do avoid that curry you love so much. Your body is a lot more sensitive than it used to be and it could irritate your stomach and cause heartburn. Instead opt for food containing that wonderful, sleep promoting amino acid: Tryptophan. High tryptophan foods include nuts, tofu, red meat, chicken, turkey, fish (mackerel is especially good), oats, beans, lentils, and eggs. If you’re a fan of hot drinks at night, try a calming mug of chamomile tea.
Remember, ensure all foods are properly prepared and cooked and try to avoid eating two to three hours before you go to sleep to lessen the chances of late night heartburn and indigestion. If you’re hungry by bedtime, try having a light snack such as homemade popcorn or whole wheat toast with peanut butter to keep you going until morning.
Establish a bedtime relaxation ritual and get your partner involved
Try incorporating a warm bath into your routine, warm water is incredible for unknotting those kinks, soothing those aches and relaxing you. If you’re someone who likes their water almost scalding, you’re going to have to turn down the heat. 39 degrees celsius is the maximum temperature recommended for pregnant women. After your first trimester you can start to be a little more adventurous and invest in some prenatal approved aromatherapy oils such as bergamot, frankincense or German chamomile. Be aware that essential oils are highly concentrated thus it is best to only use small amounts. Your doctor should be able to give you recommendations on this.
For a more hands-on approach, get a family member or a friend to give you a massage. Go for an organic oil - possibly with a base of Litsea cubeba or grapefruit which have excellent anti-inflammatory and calming properties. There are many others too which can support the flexibility of connective tissue, help promote elasticity and maintain healthy circulation.
Try to feng shui your bedroom
The basis of feng shui at home is this: your home is a mirror of what’s happening inside you. Thus your goal when applying feng shui to your bedroom is to harmonise your own energy with that of your home.
Start by removing all clutter from your room and throw out everything that’s broken, even those items you’re hoarding in your closet that you don’t need. Get it all out. Remove all the electrical equipment you can from your bedroom. If you have a TV, put it in another room unless you really can’t live without it, in which case make sure that it’s as far away from your bed as possible. Your bed should feel balanced and supportive. It is ideal to have two bedside tables on either side and a sturdy headboard and/or a solid wall behind your head. Make sure you’ve invested in a high quality mattress - if your current one is old with lumps and bumps it won’t promote the healthy sleep you need. It will turn your sanctuary into a nightmare of aches and pains. If your bed is beside the door, move it to the other side of the room if you can. It is good to have certain sleep promoting plants in your bedroom, such as jasmine, lavender or peace lily, but limit these if possible. Too many plants is too much yang i.e. too much energy in the room!
To the bed: pillows & positions
The best sleeping position to adopt is on your side with your knees bent. You can then tuck pillows between your legs, under your bellow and behind your back for maximum support. For women who sleep on their stomach and back it is recommended that you try to change your position preference early on. Sleeping on your stomach will become impossible and sleeping on your back will result in pressure on your spine, back muscles and blood vessels from your uterus.
You could also try investing in pregnancy pillows. Single or double wedges support your tummy and can help to ease back pain and a full-length body pillow can be adjusted around you as you like it.
To all commencing on this incredible life journey, congratulations and much love from all at Simba Sleep!