Pregnancy, newborns, and the much-coveted and oft-allusive sleep
Douglas, GA (July 2016) – So let’s talk about sleep. Or lack thereof. Once you’re a parent (or if you’re already a parent, then as you already know) your sleep schedule – much like the rest of your daily life – will soon be relegated to a lucky-they’re-so-cute-they-can-get-away-with-keeping-you-up-all-night little creature that you actually cocooned in your own body for the better part of the past year. So it seems the trade-off for letting them co-habitat amidst the sounds of your tummy gurgling and your heart beating and your blood pumping, is to now do their very best to let you hear the various pitches and ranges it seems they are themselves capable of producing – and at impressive volume. But while they’re still cocooned away, and that cry you’re hearing is either your firstborn whimpering from a bad dream or your neighbor’s baby or simply just your imagination…what is the best way to actually get some sleep?
You may have found that pregnancy has brought with it an entirely new level of exhaustion, heretofore unknown or experienced. It may, in fact, have been the reason you went out and bought that home pregnancy test (HPT). It is, in fact, one of the telltale signs early on that your husband isn’t the only one sharing the bed with you these days. And as that bed-guest begins taking up more and more space in your belly (and in your bed!) you may need to look for solutions that prove more effective than counting sheep or googling nursery decor ideas.
In fact, don’t use your phone if you do wake up in the night; I know…easier said than done. But the light will stimulate and wake you up even more. And then your Amazon order will seem it certainly can’t wait until morning. Similarly, leave a nightlight on in the bathroom to avoid switching on the light, assuming you haven’t already memorized your way there and back in the pitch dark.
If you’re a belly-sleeper, those days (ahem, nights) may need to be put on hold for the next few months. You won’t harm your baby but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to sleep comfortably in that position, at least not as you near your third trimester.
Likewise with back-sleepers, as sleeping on one’s back puts unnecessary pressure on one of your major blood vessels and can cause you to become dizzy and nauseous – as if you haven’t suffered from that enough already! If you do wake up and find you’ve been sleeping on your back, simply shift position and try try again…
You may have heard you should sleep on your side, specifically your left side. But why? It’s meant to help improve blood circulation to your heart, uterus, kidneys, and flow of nutrients to the fetus. Lying on your left also keeps the weight of your growing uterus off the relatively large organ of your liver, situated on the right side of your body. Who knew.
But how can I just get comfortable?! Even on our left, we often struggle to sleep…or to fall back to sleep when the inevitable middle-of-the-night-bathroom-break calls. Some suggestions:
Invest in a pregnancy pillow, or body pillow. Or rather save that money for cute little clothes and just grab an extra pillow and sleep with it between your legs. If you do buy a pregnancy/body pillow, don’t stash it away as soon as baby arrives…they come in handy to situate yourself comfortably when you begin nursing (a topic for our blog another day)!
You can also try a maternity band during the day to help alleviate pain in the back, groin, and midsection that may be keeping you up at night.
Eat small meals and try not to eat too late at night to prevent reflux and general fullness and discomfort.
Go easy on the caffeine. While the Starbucks barista may know you by name and order, that extra espresso shot may be just the habit to kick once you feel baby kicking. Not only can caffeine cause you to urinate more frequently – seriously, the last thing you need right now – but it’s not necessarily recommended for baby and it may be cause for keeping you up at night.
Don’t give up the gym. Just because you may not currently have the best bod in your Pilates class, just be sure your bod is on the mat! Regular exercise will not only help you feel good and prepare you for birth but it will help you sleep better and more soundly at night as well.
Repeat: stay off your phone, even if you’re looking up this blog post to remember some sleeping hints! Mere seconds of bright light will signal your brain to be alert and on the ready.
Calm your body and quiet your brain. Your mind and body both know you have a big change coming and it’s not uncommon that anxiety over a new baby and a mounting to-do list may be playing their part in your midnight play. Try to tackle (during daylight hours) the things that are in your control and you’ll begin to feel a bit more in control. Ask for help where and when you can, and simply let go of the things that don’t demand your immediate attention. You’re not the first woman in the world to have a baby, but this may be the first baby to enter your world. Enjoy the exciting bits and ask when you’re unsure about the unknown elements. We’re here to help at Coffee. Day or night.
About Coffee Regional Medical Center
Coffee Regional Medical Center is an 88-bed (all private rooms) hospital in Douglas, Georgia. They are the regional health center with quality rankings in the top 20% of the state. Proud to have the first Pharmaceutical Robot in the area, they are intent on reducing hospital human error to 0%. With a full range of clinical services, CRMC is opening a cardiac catheterization facility, now offers spinal surgery, offers a walk-in clinic as an alternative to the ER, is equipped with nuclear and digital diagnostic equipment, and has a full service emergency department should you need emergent care. To learn more, visit coffeeregional.org.