It’s ironic really. You’re pregnant, but at the time in you life where you really need your rest, just about everything is preventing you from doing so. Things can and will go ‘bump’ in the night!
While most mums-to-be know to eat a balanced diet and do some exercise, having enough sleep is vital as well. But restless legs, an aching back, hot flushes and a growing baby flip-flopping in your tum all add up to a pretty miserable night’s sleep. And that’s without the need to regularly get up and fumble your way to the toilet in the dark.
So while pregnant women, especially in the first and third trimesters, often need more rest, making it happen isn’t as easy. Even the best sleepers can have a very hard time trying to get the elusive zzzz they crave.
Is all hope lost then? Not quite. I’m in the third trimester of my second pregnancy and am pleased to report that I’ve found some helpful solutions in the quest for some much-needed shut-eye. Weary mums-to-be read on (promise I won’t tell you to count sheep)!
A mother’s body changes rapidly in pregnancy, and so must your choice of bedroom attire. Flannelette jim-jams with no stretch or skimpy nighties that expose an expanding chest or ride up over your stomach will not lead to feeling comfortable in the sack. Brands including Sorella Organics (above) and Peter Alexander have maternity ranges with features like stretch fabrics, button-down tops and elasticised waistbands for comfort.
Along with the changes to the body that occur during pregnancy, there are also changes in sleep patterns. Although quite normal, as the pregnancy progresses women have less deep sleep and wake up more often during the night. The Sleep Health Foundation says sleep is less refreshing while you’re growing a baby, which is why expectant mothers should spend more time in bed asleep. Catch an afternoon nap of an hour or two, if you can.
Pour a cuppa
A hot cuppa may be just what a weary mum needs before she lulls off to sleep, but too much coffee is best avoided if you’re not trying to stay awake! A soothing cup of herbal tea – like the specially-formulated blends by Mama Body Tea – is the perfect way to unwind and help you to drift off to sleep at a decent hour.
Cramping your style
If you do manage to get your bump into a comfortable position in bed, there’s nothing worse than a crippling leg cramp taking hold. Leg cramps are very common, with around 30 per cent of women suffering from muscular leg cramps while pregnant, particularly in the second and third trimesters. Give a chewable tablet a go. The strawberry-flavoured, sugar-free tablets by Crampeze Pregnancy Leg Cramps could help and they also contain the bonus ingredients of magnesium, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin D for muscle function, immune-system function and maintaining healthy bones.
Don’t dream it’s over
Vivid, sometimes frightening but always very strange… so are the dreams of pregnant women. I don’t really have a solution other than to say it’s supposed to be very common for women expecting a baby, so feel better it’s probably happening to us all! I have had a regular dream where David Bowie’s Goblin King is leading my yet-to-be-born baby through the bizarre upside-down maze in the movie Labyrinth. Of course I wake up in sweats, having a panic that my baby will crawl off the edge and fall. But then Bowie in that costume makes me feel a bit better.
Achy breaky sleep
Sometimes, as a lower myself slowly onto the mattress and say a silent “hooray!” for finally being horizontal after a day on my feet, the bump feels like it’s pulling me off the bed and my legs ache. Why, oh why legs? You’re getting what you want! Enjoy this rest time! It’s so frustrating. The only thing that seems to help is a good pregnancy support pillow (this is one maternity purchase that is worth every cent). Some pregnant women swear by the Ultimate Sleep Comfort U pillow, which is important for instant pain relief, pelvic alignment and offering full body support, allowing your muscles and joints to relax. I feel better already.
Hang a leftie
If you’ve always been a back or stomach sleeper, you might have trouble getting used to sleeping on your side, which is the position doctors recommend. Lying on your left side is better for maximum blood flow and might ease some pain in your legs.
The urge to pee is strong. As soon as I stir, I wake because my body tells me to rush to the loo, the pressure on my bladder means I’m obviously not going to be able to hold for another minute. I just got comfy too. Wonderful. But I’ve heard horror stories, like women having to go up to six times a night, so I won’t complain (much). Try going to the loo just before bedtime and avoid drinking lots of fluids late at night.
Still at a loss as to why you can’t sleep? We shouldn’t forget that a pregnant woman’s body is doing something phenomenal – growing a baby. To prove just how incredible it really is, take a look at our post that shows what happens inside your body during pregnancy.