Ah, pregnancy. Your body is busy creating a whole new being, so it’s no wonder you feel so tired. But here’s the kicker – as your baby grows, so does your belly. And that means the sleep you need becomes a trickier pursuit. Sometimes it even seems like you’ve barely snatched some zzzzzs all night.
Don’t let pregnancy steal your sleep. Try some of these tricks instead.
Say no to greasy dinners
This is for you, heartburn sufferers. No amount of chalky heartburn chews will keep that pepperoni pizza, greasy hamburger or spicy curry from bubbling back up your oesophagus, so say no to spicy or fried dinner fare, no matter what your pregnancy cravings tell you.
Eat small meals during the day, but two hours before bed, don’t let any food pass your lips, or you might need to sleep sitting up. And that’s code for no sleep for you.
Exercise during the day
Pregnancy is not the time to start training for Olympic level weight lifting, but try to take a walk or go for a swim every day. We all know the benefits of exercise, and in this case it will help to tucker you out. As a side bonus, regular exercise will help keep your body in shape for labour.
Sing a song, over and over
Make something repetitive your pregnancy sleep trigger and you should soon drift off with little resistance from those pesky thoughts keeping you awake.
Sometimes it’s worries (real or imagined) about the baby, sometimes just worries about which pram to buy or what colour to paint the nursery, but all have the same effect – they’re keeping you from much needed pregnancy sleep! Some people count sheep, some meditate to help them drift off. We recommend humming all those nursery rhymes you’ll soon be singing! Zzzzzzzzzzz.
Sleep on your side
Side-sleeping is infinitely more comfortable than back sleeping when you’re pregnant. If you’ve started snoring – yes, pregnancy can do that to you – then this will help prevent the dreaded snores. Because nothing disturbs your pregnancy sleep like a sharp elbow dig in the ribs from your partner!
Sleeping on your left side also allows more oxygen to get to the baby, which is good for healthy foetal growth. In fact, sleeping on your back once you hit the second trimester is not recommended because it puts too much pressure on the main vein that carries blood to your heart.
Say goodbye to coffee … and no water before bed
There’s a good reason most pregnant women can’t stand the smell of coffee – it doesn’t just keep you awake, it crosses the placenta and unsettles baby too. Plus, it makes you pee.
Too much caffeine can trigger other pregnancy complications as well, so stick to just a cup or two a day and never just before bed. Swap your after dinner coffee for a cup of peppermint or lemon balm tea. Or even better, try a tea made especially for pregnant women, like Mama Body Tea or Pregnancy Love Tea.
And slow down on the water at night too to avoid being woken at 2am with a full-to-bursting bladder. Follow the same two-hour before bed rule as for food – just say no.
Ditch the electric blanket
Pregnant bodies are hot bodies, thanks to that increased blood flow and higher metabolism. Ditch the winter-weight jammies, banish the electric blanket and use a lighter doona. You’ll probably still sleep with one leg out of the covers, but a pregnant mama has to do what a pregnant mama has to do!
Get a maternity pillow
Not sure whether to try a full body pillow? Once you’ve slept in the heavenly cocoon of a maternity pillow, with support for that heavy belly and aching back, you’ll know it’s a must-have pregnancy sleep item.
Ultimate Sleep’s Pregnancy Pillow ($299) is designed to support your body when pregnant and alleviate the long list of aches and pains that develop as the pregnancy goes on. The u-shape supports your head, shoulders, back and belly. It straightens your pelvis, keeps you lying on your side (so important) and even gives relief to your poor swollen ankles.
Of course, when the baby comes, you’ll need a whole new bunch of sleep tips.
The most important tip is not to worry, you’re going to be great.
We asked two expectant Grapeviners to try out the Ultimate Sleep maternity pillow for a month and here’s what they had to say.
Olenka Pap, 21 weeks pregnant
Olenka likes that the all-in-one design keeps the pillow in place all night.
“You get support for your head/neck, shoulders and chest, then legs (and when my tummy is bigger I imagine it will support my tummy too). It feels as though someone is ‘giving you a hug’ all night as it wraps around your back when you are side sleeping. Very cosy!
The head area is quite firm. I like a softer pillow so I fixed this by moving down the bed a little and squeezing my softer pillow in place. This then made it heaven!”
Nichola Haigh-Bourke, 24 weeks pregnant
Nichola likes not having to fuss with separate pillows to support her bump and back.
“I used to sleep with three pillows around me in bed and would constantly have to adjust them every time I rolled over. The Ultimate Sleep Maternity Pillow is much more comfortable and my sleep quality is so much better.
I feel protected from all angles and am now well assured to snuggle up for a good night’s sleep. I would highly recommend to all expecting mums.”
The maternity pillow is available online from Ultimate Sleep ($299).
(This is a sponsored post)