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Calling all pregnant women,

You might have realised by now that your body is producing a miracle-a-minute.

The extraordinary way that your system has naturally turned into a baby-nurturing-wonderland is incredible; blows your mind, doesn’t it!?  Your baby is getting the goods and this is always a reassuring thing, however, sometimes the flaw in the system is when YOU need to rest.

What good comes from sleeplessness?  Especially when your waking hours will find you requiring extra energy to cart that added weight around?  The answer is… there isn’t any, we’ve just got to get you sleeping!

So, here’s a bunch of the most common sleep thieves and how to guard yourself against them.

SLEEP PROBLEM #1 What’s with all this pee?

Because of the increase in blood supply, a lot of extra fluid makes its way through your kidneys and lands in your bladder.

Simply by lying down, fluids retained during the day are now most easily transported by your blood to your bladder, the result? More pee and with the added weight of your little miracle pressing on your vitals, the pee-ing during the wee-hours (excuse the pun) will be inevitable.

What can you do?

Avoiding caffeine and drinking the majority of your water in the daylight hours.

SLEEP PROBLEM #2 Leg cramps/aches

Your legs are having to carry a whole load more than they would normally, it’s understandable they would ache a little (or lot!).

What can you do?

  • Regular stretches and gentle exercise will help.
  • Some evidence suggests magnesium and potassium levels may contribute to aches/cramps. Speak with your health care provider regarding possible supplements.
  • Avoid sitting cross-legged for extended periods.
  • Rest and resist the temptation to push-on when your body’s ready to switch-off. 
  • Try a warm bath with some essential oils to relax in.
  • If you notice tenderness or swelling in your legs, call your health care provider.

SLEEP PROBLEM #3 Indigestion and heartburn

More than two-thirds of pregnant women suffer from heartburn/indigestion in the second half of pregnancy. 

During pregnancy, the placenta produces an increase in progesterone and this relaxes the muscles in the womb, so the baby can grow and the womb can prepare for labour.  Unfortunately, progesterone also softens other muscles, including the valve that separates the oesophagus from the stomach.  This allows gastric acid to travel back up the throat and is often experienced as a burning sensation extending from your breastbone to your throat.

Constipated too? progesterone also relaxes the intensity of digestive contractions, slowing down the movement of food in your body (a charming little by-product). Your growing baby then also puts pressure on your abdomen, pushing stomach acids back up toward your throat.  Delicious.

What can you do?

  • Eat small amounts of food often, and give your body time to digest before bedtime.
  • Avoid certain foods/drinks, including bubbly drinks, caffeine, citrus foods, tomatoes and highly seasoned/fatty foods.
  • Try resting your head higher at night time.  You might even be most comfortable propped-up in an armchair – you might need to be a bit creative. 
  • Try a glass of low-fat milk.  This can act as a natural stomach-acid neutraliser.
  • If your symptoms persist, speak to your pharmacist about pregnancy-safe antacids.

SLEEP PROBLEM #4 General body discomfort

The final trimester is when most body discomfort is often most keenly experienced; Your body is bulkier, your baby bigger and most active and you’re likely to be finding it extremely difficult to find comfortable sleeping positions – and and unfortunate reality will be that once you’re finally bedded down, you’ll be up again to pee 😉

Women can also feel much warmer when they sleep during pregnancy because of an increased metabolic rate; sleeping during the final stage of pregnancy can be very frustrating!

What can you do?

  • The best position to sleep in is lying on your left-hand side and as tempting as a boat load of pillows can be – try to keep it simple – one between your knees so it can flip with you as you roll over in bed and perhaps a smaller one for your lower back. 
  • During the third trimester, sleeping on your left-hand side is best.  A mattress topper or an ‘egg carton’ foam surface is ideal to encourage circulation.

SLEEP PROBLEM #5 Why all the freakin’ crazy dreams?

If you’re lucky enough to be getting it… sleep I mean 😉 then your dream life might leave you feeling more exhausted in the morning than when you started.

“There is a greater amount of actual dreaming and dream recall when a woman is pregnant than at any other time during her life’’, says Patricia Garfield, PhD.  ‘’The dreams will relate to her condition of pregnancy, the trimester she is in, and what is going on in her body at the time’’.

Women report dreams that sit somewhere between Going Off the Rails on the Crazy Train, to the more psychedelic, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.  My most disturbing recurring dream was repeatedly giving birth to a friend of mine’s adult head (yep just the head).

Garfield goes on to explain that dream recall is related to recency, eg.  if a woman needs to wake to pee, or perhaps the baby’s movements wake her, she is more likely to remember a dream she has just had.  In comparison to the regular non-pregnant woman, who is likely to just remember the last dream she had before she woke in the morning.

With an increase in the incidence of recall, a pregnant woman is able to also recall the vividness, the detail and the feelings the dreams brought her.  Her dreams might start to reflect her hopes and fears.  I really don’t know how I developed a phobia of delivering a body-less head, but there you go.

What can you do?

  • It’s natural to have fears and concerns surrounding birth and parenthood, especially if you’re embarking upon this role for the first time.  Communicate these with your partner.  Unresolved feelings can particularly play on your mind at sleep time.  Don’t hesitate to seek professional help, if needed.

You don’t need anyone to tell you how important sleep is.  If you’re like me, it might just be your most favoured thing!  Don’t let it be a fading sweet memory, consider the above to help that clever little bod with the rest that it wants and needs; cherish and look after it, and prioritise good sleep and get your hands on whatever resources you can that will help you.

hugs into the ether..


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