When I was pregnant with my first son, I couldn’t get a good night’s sleep. A part of me thought it was good practice for the long nights nursing and rocking my newborn.
However, my pregnancy sleep problems were taking a toll. I was afraid I might fall asleep while driving or stumble while climbing the stairs to my apartment.
I asked my doctor and my midwife how I could lessen sleep disturbances during my pregnancy. I also started reading every pregnancy book I could get my hand on, in hopes that I’d drift off to sleep while reading.
Having the urge to urinate
One of the reasons I woke up in the middle of the night is because I had a sudden urge to urinate. I made sure to stop drinking anything after 7 p.m. I made sure I ate something instead of having a warm glass of milk or juice on an empty stomach.
I also was careful not to eat foods that caused heartburn or indigestion since that kept me up.
Getting plenty of exercise
I found I could sleep better if I went for long walks. If I didn’t exercise, I’d have leg cramps. The key was to exercise gently but for at least 45 minutes so my body could signal to my brain that it really did want and need sleep.
Turning nightmares into dreams
I was bothered by nightmares or “night terrors” during my pregnancy. I found out part of the problem could be that my sudden pregnancy weight gain had triggered sleep apnea. My doctor helped by recommending a dietician who could guide me in a healthier eating plan for pregnancy. A friend also suggested I keep a dream journal. I started writing down positive affirmations before drifting off to sleep, which did result in more pleasant dreams.
Worrying about my baby
Another reason I was having trouble sleeping during my pregnancy was simply because I was afraid. I didn’t know “what to expect,” even though I had read the book by the same title several times. I was afraid of the pain involved with childbirth and delivery. My midwife introduced me to another client who had experienced a positive “water birth.” She helped ease my worries and concerns by sharing her positive childbirth experiences.
I also started talking to my baby about what he or she could look forward to doing after being born. By talking it through, I felt more equipped and confident. I was able to sleep better.
Other tricks and tips I used for falling asleep are the same ones I still use when I’m not pregnant. I keep the television out of my bedroom. I have a comfortable mattress that also provides adequate support. I do nothing “stimulating” before bed, but relax in my clutter-free bedroom which is dedicated only for sleep.