This week’s journal entry is dedicated to getting a good night’s sleep when pregnant despite the many obstacles to sleep the pregnant body dishes out. Shall we name a few challenges our bodies might be experiencing?
- Heart Burn
- Lax Ligaments
- Inability to lie flat on back OR on stomach
- Expanding rib cage/pressure on lungs/difficulty breathing
- A bladder that’s so active you’d think it was the size of a pea…
- Carpal tunnel
- Sciatica (nerve pain, usually down one leg)
- Back pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, sore feet
- Leg cramps to wake the dead
Need I say more? I could keep going, but you get the idea. Heck, if you ARE pregnant or ever HAVE BEEN pregnant, I’m preaching to the choir. So lets move on to something more constructive. What we can do about it? HOW CAN WE GET AND STAY COMFORTABLE IN PREGNANCY AND GET SOME MUCH NEEDED SLEEP?
As a physical therapist since 1992 (does that date me?) I’ve worked with many pregnant women on this very issue, with some great success; not to mention that I’m 19 weeks pregnant with twins… and have had two other pregnancies to get and stay comfortable through. If any of that qualifies me, I’d like to share a little on the topic with you because it’s so important to our overall health. Thus far in my pregnancy I am still sleeping well (did I just jinx myself?) but remember from pregnancies past it’s really that last trimester that can be the most challenging.
Easy Tips for Better Sleep
1. Stretch during the day and right before bed. I like to get into a child’s pose to open my hips and low back area before going to bed. I breathe and stay this way for maybe 3 minutes on the floor by our bed. I also stretch my hamstrings and calves (see photos) before bed to prevent night cramps (nearly crippling in my first pregnancy). If I’m having “baby in the ribs” issues (had both pregnancies after 26 weeks or so) I do a standing side stretch before bed as well.
2. Stay supported and comfortable throughout the DAY. I know we are talking about nighttime and sleep here, but if we don’t watch what challenges we give to our bodies all day long, it’s hard to be very comfortable at night. Do move (a lot) throughout the day, varying the position you’re in, don’t sit too long at any given time, do put a pillow behind your back when sitting, do lift your seat a little so you’re perched higher, do keep a nice curve in your low back (not slumping which low chairs make you do), don’t sit on hard or metal chairs (just begging for sciatica), do listen to your body and if something is uncomfortable… move!
3. Avoid eating before bed, this will help any heart burn you might be prone to.
4. If your bladder wakes you all night every night, start loading up on liquids every half hour, all day long, but slow or stop your intake after dinner time to allow it to empty before bed.
5. Buy basic wrist splint(s) and wear to bed which will keep your wrists in neutral (not allowing them to move back and forth.) This neutral position protects the median nerve as it passes by there at your wrist, preventing further inflammation of the wrist joint (you know how swollen the hands and feet can get in pregnancy!) and compression/irritation of the nerve, the main cause of your carpal tunnel pain.
6. Use ice to tame a sore back or sciatic pain… NOT HEAT. You wouldn’t put heat on a sprained ankle, right? You’d ice it. Same thing with your back/hip after a long day. Things are stirred up down there and swollen. the ice helps kick the inflammation, numbs things and just feels all around rockin’ good. 15-20 minutes with a nice re-freezable gel pack just might do the trick and help you drift off to never never land. If it feels too cold, wrap ice pack in a thin pillow case before putting it against your skin.
7. Do make sure you have at least 4-5 pillows at your beckon call. I have a pregnancy pillow and will get this out in a few weeks, but to date have made good use of our regular bed and decorative pillows. (My husband has named my pillows “Edwardo”. Yep. My other man. I am now sleeping with arms and legs wrapped securely around Edwardo. *giggles*
7. Use one of those reading wedges and then build from there so you can sleep supported on your back in what’s called “semi-recumbent” (a fancy term for “like-you-are-in-a-recliner” in bed.) In fact, I have a close friend who in the third trimester sourced a recliner, a real Archie Bunker special, and place it in her bedroom to get some much needed rest when all else failed. You might see if the glider/chair you have or might be buying for the nursery reclines. Give it a go. You’ll be sleeping there some after your baby is born anyway. *wink*
8. And FINALLY, the biggest idea… POSITIONING. I’ll show you some ideas in a video as it’s too much to type. Just know this, pillows make ALL the difference. Invest in a $30-$45 foam contoured neck pillow (ideal for slide sleepers) and have plenty of pillows around for when you need them. If you are a stomach/back sleeper normally, there are ways to trick your body into thinking you are in that comfy and familiar position. It just takes the right number of Edwardo’s. (err… I mean pillows!)
Don’t Rest Until You Rest
It became clear to me at Prenatal Yoga class this week, when we 20+ pregnant mamas sat criss-cross applesause (formerly known as Indian sitting though I have been told by my kids that this is no longer “PC”) in a sharing circle; our instructor asked how many of us were having trouble sleeping and more than half the group raised their hands. This is a major issue. What works/worked/doesn’t work for you? Please share below. As a PT, I hate to hear about a person who’s hurting or can’t get comfortable… we’ve got to find you some relief!!!
I hope these few tips help. If not, talk to your doctors. Talk to your friends. Write in about what you are dealing with below. Chances are hundreds of other pregnant MMM readers are dealing with this as well. Get support. Don’t rest until you are resting!!! We need our sleep. Let’s face it, after our babies come is NOT the ideal time for you and I to plan on catching up on our ZzZzZzZzZ’s. *smiles*
39 Weeks : We are so BLESSED!
37 Weeks : Crystal Ball
36 Weeks : Pre-Birth ENERGY
35 Weeks : House Arrest
34 Weeks : Like “Cantaloupes”
33 Weeks : Blessingways and Birth
32 Weeks : Other New Moms & Icing
31 Weeks : Newborn Baby Checklists
30 Weeks : Sage “New-Mom” Advice from a Friend
29 Weeks : Placental Encapsulation
28 Weeks : Pregnancy Calf Cramps to Wake the DEAD
27 Weeks : Holiday Maternity Fashion Tips
26 Weeks : The Nursery
25 Weeks : Back to Baby Names
24 Weeks : Cord Blood
23 Weeks : Baby Fat
22 Weeks : Baby(s) Moving! Time for Belly Massage
21 Weeks : Flu Bug
20 Weeks : Parents As Teachers
18 Weeks : Breastfeeding
17 Weeks : Childbirth
16 Weeks : Sex of the Babies. We’re having…
15 Weeks : Baby name Game
14 Weeks : Prenatal Yoga
13 Weeks : Mindful Nesting
12 Weeks : My Changing Pregnant Body
How Spirit Moves
Baby Watch is published in partnership with Kolcraft
Suzanne Tucker, aka Zen Mommy
In addition to mommying to two magical girls born in 2000 and 2003 and expecting twins in Jan of 2010, Suzanne co-owns a holistic health center with her husband Shawn in St. Louis, Missouri where she practices as a physical therapist, Certified Infant Massage Instructor and health education teacher. Certified in a number of healing and life education approaches, Suzanne is a Co-creator of My Mommy Manual and the online parenting course, Yogi Parenting, a positive parenting approach for raising kids of all ages.