If you’re a mum-to-be who’s having trouble sleeping, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that at least half of all pregnant women deal with insomnia whilst with child.
There are plenty of reasons why you can’t seem to sleep peacefully these days. Your body is changing, for one thing, and it can be hard to get comfortable enough to rest. Other expectant mums will stay up at night worrying about the future and what it’ll look like with a little one in tow.
You don’t have to spend the next nine months without a good night’s sleep, though. Here are our best tips to help you sleep soundly during your pregnancy and, perhaps, beyond.
1. Stay Cool
How did you figure out you were pregnant? There are so many signs that mums-to-be see that make them realise a baby is on the way. One major signifier: a noticeable flux in your hormones, and we’re not just talking about unexpected shifts in your mood, either.
For lots of expectant mothers, their swinging hormones can cause their body temperature to spike, too. If this has happened to you, then you know just how tough it can be to try and sleep whilst you feel hot and sweaty.
So, create a cooler environment in which to sleep so that you can get the rest you need. Wear loose-fitting garments made of natural fibres, which make it easier for your skin to breathe. If it’s summertime, try a cool shower before bed to help you maintain a comfortable body temperature.
You might also want to lower the temperature in your bedroom. Turn on a fan or crack a window if it’s cooler outside so that you can rest comfortably.
2. Soothe Restless Legs
One-third of pregnant women have restless legs syndrome (RLS). Although the name implies that it’d make your limbs move non-stop, RLS can also manifest as an itchy or burning sensation. Perhaps you feel like something’s crawling on your legs at night—this could be down to RLS, too.
Experts aren’t quite sure why so many women have RLS whilst pregnant, but they do have a few theories. It could be down to a dopamine imbalance in the brain, which would keep the body pleasantly static. Or, RLS could stem from wavering estrogen levels or a lack of folic acid.
No matter what the cause of RLS is, one thing’s for sure: you need the sensation to disappear to sleep soundly. So, work some tried-and-true soothing methods into your bedtime routine. For example, you might want to take a warm bath before you get in bed, which could help relax your limbs.
You could also stretch before you go to sleep for a similar effect. If you want to go all out, book in for a prenatal massage. Your massage therapist will help ease tension and help you relax.
3. Quell Heartburn
Your pregnancy cravings have you reaching for a myriad of foods. Perhaps you’re craving strong flavours now that your taste buds have changed. However, chowing down on spicy or otherwise strongly flavoured fare can have an unexpected side effect: heartburn.
Even if you’re not eating hot food round-the-clock, you might still be experiencing indigestion and heartburn during your pregnancy. This is completely normal—it’s all down to your changing body. Specifically, the valve that blocks stomach acid from escaping relaxes whilst you’re with child.
To ease heartburn—especially before bed—avoid eating extra-large meals. Instead, try to eat smaller amounts more frequently so that you’re nourished but not overloading your digestive system.
On top of that, you might try sleeping with a wedge-shaped pillow or propping your bed up by a few centimeters. Keeping yourself at this angle can physically keep the valve closed and help you to rest without painful interruptions from your belly.
4. Eat and Drink Healthily
On that note, you should be cognizant of what you eat during your pregnancy so that it’s not affecting your sleep, either. In general, that means skipping caffeine, as well as any other food or drinks that cause discomfort.
For most mums-to-be, a diet heavy in fruits and veg makes them feel nourished without any side effects that affect sleep. Swap coffee for ginger or mint tea, both of which can soothe an upset stomach, according to anecdotal evidence.
Making healthy eating a priority could help you skip out on the previously described heartburn, too. Obviously, you’ll have cravings from time to time—we’re not saying to ignore them. But you should try to make neutral, nutritious foods the foundation of your diet for a more comfortable and restful pregnancy.
5. Ease Your Mind
Not all pregnancy-caused sleeping problems have to do with physical discomfort. Perhaps you’re up at all hours worrying about the future.
It’s important to note that you’re not alone in this: more than 1 in 10 mums will deal with pre-baby anxiety. So, if you’re nervous about what’s to come, you’re just like every other parent.
There are so many ways to ease your mind throughout your pregnancy and help yourself get some rest. Regular baby scans can reassure you that your baby is healthy and progressing as necessary.
Pre-baby classes at your local hospital or birth centre could further ease your worried mind. You can learn the basics of baby care, what to expect during labour, how to ease yourself through delivery, and more. Just talking about these stressful topics can make them less scary and stressful.
Finally, you can try the many methods out there for reducing general anxiety—they’ll work for pregnancy-related anxiety, too. You might sign up for a prenatal yoga course, or maybe you can journal before bed to get your stresses out of your head and on paper. Pre-bed meditation can also help you to sleep peacefully and wake up calmer, too.
6. Pad With Pillows
Now, you might not have a worried mind as much as a weary body. Your mattress no longer provides the same amount of comfort—you need even more padding for your pregnant belly.
If you find yourself tossing and turning, a pregnancy pillow can do the trick. These cushions are designed to support your belly and legs—rather than stacking them up and causing tension, the pillow takes the brunt of the pressure. If you don’t have a pregnancy pillow, try using a regular one and putting it between your legs or under your belly for a similar effect.
Don’t be shy about investing in a pregnancy pillow, though. Lots of mums use the uniquely shaped cushion as support during breastfeeding. Others find it so comfortable that they continue sleeping with it even after their babies arrive.
7. Get Moving
Before your pregnancy, you kept tabs on your personal health. You may have even undergone well-woman exams to ensure you and your body were ready to carry a little one.
It can be tough or even impossible to keep up with your pre-pregnancy regime, depending on how rigorous it was. But you might be restless at night because you haven’t expended all of your energy. You might just need to tucker yourself out with more exercise during the day.
So, try and incorporate gentle exercise into your days during the next nine months. It can be something as simple as a walk around your neighbourhood or a daily prenatal yoga class. Getting your body moving during the day can help you feel more tired at night—and that’ll ease you into the sleep that you so desperately crave.
8. Sleep When You Can
As you know, your pregnancy will cause your hormones to ebb and flow throughout the day. As such, you might feel more alert at night, but sleepy during the day.
If you have the freedom to do so, listen to your body when it gets tired. You don’t want to completely reverse your sleep schedule, but there’s no harm in taking naps when you feel the need to rest. It’s important to listen to your body throughout your pregnancy and, if it’s telling you to sleep a bit during the day, it won’t hurt.
On that note, be sure to discuss your sleep-related needs with your partner, too. If you have other children who come into your room during the night, make sure your significant other knows that they’re in charge. You need to take advantage of sleep when it comes, and they will have to step in to help you get it sometimes.
Sleep Peacefully Throughout Your Pregnancy
These are just seven ways that you can help yourself to sleep peacefully whilst pregnant. So, try one or all of them and get the rest you need to ensure that you and your baby are healthy and happy throughout the next nine months.
Routine baby scans and check-ups can further ease your mind. Contact us today to schedule a visit to our Bristol or Gloucester centre for the reassurance you need to rest well at night.