All About You
I hope you're doing your Kegel exercises! Kegels strengthen the pelvic floor and tone the vaginal and perineal area. To do a Kegel, tighten the muscles around the vagina and anus and hold for eight to 10 seconds. Confused? Practice stopping a stream of urine when you're on the toilet. These are exercises you don't have to get to the gym for! Try doing Kegels in the car at every red light.
You may start to notice aches and pains in some unusual places as your pregnancy progresses. For example, you may experience moments of shooting pains in your legs. There are several possible reasons for leg cramps, although doctors are still uncertain about the exact cause. According to the March of Dimes, changes in your circulation, pressure on nerves and blood vessels, even staying in the same position for too long can lead to cramping. Your groin may also ache with the added pressure of your baby-to-be. And chances are, some of the regular pregnancy nuisances—like frequent potty breaks, indigestion, and itchy skin—are still bothering you.
Sleeping in Pregnancy: Why It's Tough to Get Enough Zzzs
Next to nausea, fatigue is one of the top complaints during pregnancy. While getting more rest seems to be the easy solution, sleeping will become more difficult as you get further along in your pregnancy.
Physical Reasons for Sleep Trouble
Belly bump: Your baby bump can make it challenging to find a comfortable snoozing position. If you slept on your back or stomach pre-pregnancy, you'll have to adjust to sleeping on your side. In fact, the American Pregnancy Association (APA) advises sleeping on your side, or SOS—as the healthiest position for you and your baby. The APA goes on to say that you should sleep on your left side to put your body's internal organs in the best position for blood to circulate, replenishing your body—and your baby-to-be's—with oxygen and nutrients while you sleep.
Breathing issues: Your expanding belly not only dictates your sleep position, but also how much air you'll breathe as you snooze. As your uterus expands and pushes your internal organs aside, your lungs have less room to expand, meaning you're taking shallower and more frequent breaths than in your pre-pregnancy days.
Potty breaks: Your growing baby-to-be puts added pressure on your bladder, which is working overtime along with the rest of your body to flush out any impurities in your blood supply, which jumps 50 percent during pregnancy. Don't be surprised if you have to wake up at least a couple of times in the night to use the bathroom.
Indigestion: Along with your lungs and bladder, your stomach is getting squished as your belly bump grows. As your stomach is pushed up closer to your esophagus (the tube through which food travels from your mouth to your stomach), you're more likely to experience heartburn. Pregnancy hormones, which tend to slow digestion, can also cause food to sit longer in your stomach.
Mental Reasons for Sleep Trouble
Stress: It may not be just your body keeping you up at night. You may lose sleep worrying about your baby's arrival, stresses of work, or about becoming a mother.
Dreams: Researchers also note pregnant women have more vivid dreams compared with non-pregnant women. "We're still not sure why this happens," says Dr. William Camann, MD, director of obstetric anesthesia at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and coauthor of Easy Labor. Some theories are that pregnancy hormones play a part. "It may also be that you're waking up more often so that you're recalling more of what you were dreaming."
Simple Solutions for Sleep Trouble
Try these helpful strategies to ensure you get some much-needed rest.
Pillows, pillows, and more pillows! While there are plenty of pregnancy sleep pillows on the market, you can also fashion your own pillow system by placing several smaller pillows at your sorest points. Try adding one behind your lower back for support and placing one between your legs.
Relaxation strategies: If pillows aren't enough, try to find some ways to relax before you go to bed. Make yourself a glass of tea, do breathing exercises, and/or let your partner give you're a massage. Find what triggers your body to unwind and practice it before bed.
Drinking smarts: You should never limit the amount of water you drink, but you can limit when you drink it. If you've had one too many midnight bathroom breaks, avoid drinking an hour or two before bed. Make sure, though, when you wake up in the morning and throughout the day you drink enough to keep your body hydrated.
Sit up: Propping yourself up at night can ease heartburn. You may also try avoiding acidic foods such as tomato sauce or citrus fruits.
Have your baby: After weeks of uncomfortable sleep positions and aching body parts, you'll be amazed at how quickly you'll find yourself snoozing again once your baby arrives. You may still find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, but it won't be because you need a bathroom break—instead it will be your little one who may need a snack or a changed diaper.
Remember to ask your healthcare provider before taking any over-the-counter sleep aids.