The Most Important Thing You Need To Know About Pregnancy!
What Is The Most Important Thing You Need To Know?
Pretty bold title eh! I truly believe this one tip will make or break the ease of your pregnancy. I was one of the lucky ones who was given this piece of advice from friends and family:
Plan For And Get Plenty Of Sleep!
Sounds simple I know, but trust me, you will be so happy I told you to do this.
But Why Are You Telling Me This?
Pregnancy is very taxing on the body. During my first trimester, especially, I felt drained and exhausted. Because my schedule allowed for it, I napped almost every day. Sometimes for up to 2 hours. I also allowed for at least 10 hours of sleep per night.
Yes I went to bed early. Yes my days of being a night owl were over (for now). But sleeping made such a huge difference in how I felt and helped me work out all the emotional issues that come up during pregnancy. I highly recommend you take this advice to heart and give it a whirl.
If you are in your first trimester you are probably already feeling that exhaustion. Your alarm goes off in the morning and your first instinct is to grab the sledge hammer. You just want to pull that duvet over your head and hide from the world. Am I right?
The best way to make your morning a little more joyful is to go to bed early! Even if this is your second child, ignore all those chores and tasks you normally do when you put that little one to sleep. Instead, go to bed at the same time they do. Trust me, you will thank me for this advice.
The Science Of Sleep
It takes a lot of energy to a grow a baby. Some extra work your body puts in during pregnancy includes:
- Your heart works five times harder to provide increased blood supply to the baby
- Rapid expansion of of your blood vessels places extra stress on your heart and lungs
- Your blood volume increases dramatically
- Increased blood volume leads to an increased need for oxygen, so your rate of breathing increases
- Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) - the rate at which your body expends energy during rest - increases
- Your hormone balances change, specifically there are dramatic increases in estrogen and progesterone
- Your hair and nail growth patterns will change, for the good or bad
- Your breasts change significantly - they grow, milk ducts enlarge, and pigmentation changes of the breast and nipples may occur
- Your cervix undergoes changes, becoming thicker, firmer, and more glandular
- There is an increase in body temperature
- You will also experience an increased need for water to remain hydrated
All these changes are in addition to the added effort your body performs to grow your sweet baby boy/girl. As you can imagine, by days end you are physically and emotionally exhausted.
Good deep REM sleep is absolutely necessary to repair muscle tissue, maintain critical body functions, restore energy, and allow the brain to process information. Sleep is the time when your body releases the hormones for growth and digestion. Good rest and sleep provides your body with time to rejuvenate and renew itself, making sleep more important during pregnancy than any other period in your life.
Lack of sleep has been shown to impair your immune system, which is critical for keeping you and your baby healthy during pregnancy. To little sleep is associated with obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Did you know unhealthy weight gain and eating patterns are connected to poor sleep hygiene?
No wonder you are tired and need more sleep right!
My Top Tricks For Getting Plenty Of Rest
- Pick an early bed time that gives you time for at least 10 hours of sleep, and stick to it
- If you need to, enter that time as an alarm on your phone as a reminder it's bedtime
- Create a bed time routine that prepares you for sleep
- Wash up, meditate, have a bath, read, whatever actitivity that will help you drift off to a peaceful sleep
- Prepare a comfortable place for sleep
- Bedding, pillows, and mattess, should be clean and comfortable
- Keep ALL technology out of the bedroom, this includes cell phones, televisions, laptops, and tablets
- If your sleep partner wakes you during the night from snoring, tossing and turning, etc (or if you keep your partner awake) consider sleeping separately
- If you can find time during the day to take a nap jump at the opportunity
- Lavender has long been known to help with sleep, put a few drops of lavender essential oils in the bath, or prepare a dried lavender leaf satchel to keep by your bed or under your pillow
- Avoid anything stimulating befor bed including caffeine, heavy exercise, television, large heavy meals, and sugary foods
- Herbal teas can be excellent sleep aids, chamomile is at the top of the list
Sleep Positions During Pregnancy
As your pregnancy progresses you will start to find sleep a little uncomfortable. I was warned ahead of time to start practicing new sleep positions before my belly grew big.
Sleeping on your back or your belly are no no(s) during pregnancy. If these are your favourite positions, starting breaking the habit now! Later in pregnancy sleeping on your stomach will be like sleeping on a basketball and you will squish the baby. Sleeping on your back places the entire weight of your uterus on some major blood vessels, your intestines, and your spine.
The most recommended position for sleep during pregnancy is on your left side with a pillow between your legs. This position allows for maximum blood flow and helps support good kidney function. (Your kidneys work overtime during pregnancy). This means less swelling of ankles, feet, and hands during pregnancy. Your right side is fine as well.
Placing a pillow behind your back, whether a speciality cube pillow or a regular one, will help you to train your body to sleep in this position. Some women invest in a body pillow which wraps in a U-Shape around your body supporting your back, legs, and head.
Training your body now will safe you much discomfort later in your pregnancy.
Get plenty of rest now and enjoy every moment of it. As your pregnancy progresses you may have problems with insomnia. When your little bundle of joy arrives, you will certainly lack sleep until your baby starts sleeping throughout the night.
I want to hear how well you are sleeping or did sleep during your pregnancy! Share your comments below.
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Love and Happiness,
Krystal Bernier, Holistic Nutritionist