Written by iCandy Guest Blogger and Baby & Toddler Sleep Consultant, Charlotte Hillyard
Growing a teeny tiny person is hard work! From morning sickness to indigestion, restless leg syndrome to them sitting on your bladder A LOT, cue the 4th trip to the bathroom in the night and it’s only 2am! Not to mention those midnight worries about the birth of your little one. The physical changes pregnancy brings can cause disturbances to sleep, which is ironic as this is the time that we arguably need it most!
Sleep disturbances are common in pregnancy and each trimester brings its own distinct challenges. During the first trimester, it’s common to crave a lot of sleep as the body begins the process of growing the placenta. The second trimester is typically the stage of pregnancy where nausea begins to ease, and you start feeling like you have a little more energy. Although sleeping during the later stages of pregnancy can become increasingly difficult and it’s advised that you try to limit sleeping on your back. Don’t worry if you do wake up on your back, this is unavoidable, just try and go back to your favoured side and use a pillow between your legs to help with support.
In order to try and optimise sleep during your pregnancy, you can try practicing relaxation techniques such as guided meditation. Research has shown that this can result in a positive impact on emotional wellbeing, as it helps to ease stress and anxiety levels. Try carving out 20 minutes in your evening routine, which I know can be challenging if you already have children, however practicing mindfulness techniques or relaxation sessions before bed can be especially helpful for improving sleep.
Heartburn can also contribute to disturbances in sleep. This is very common, especially in the latter stages of pregnancy and can be caused by hormonal changes and also your growing baby pressing on your stomach. Try to eat smaller meals in the day and avoid eating three hours before bed. You can also try laying on your left-hand side, as this can help to aid digestion.
Do your best to keep a consistent sleep routine. Having a wind down period, limiting screen time before bed and going to sleep at a similar time each night can really help the body adjust and prepare itself for sleep, meaning it cuts down on the amount of time spent waiting to fall asleep.
And finally, do your best to keep active. Now I know this may feel near impossible to do, especially in the first trimester when you may be feeling incredibly sick or even the third trimester when everything feels uncomfortable, however light exercise such as a gentle walk can help you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep. It can also lift your mood too. Before starting any exercises in pregnancy, it’s always key to chat to your doctor first.
Charlotte Hillyard is the founder and CEO of 'The Gift of Sleep' and she is passionate about helping families to improve their little ones' sleep. Mum of one and based in Essex, Charlotte helps families via her 1-2-1 support package services, Sleep Clinic sessions and with the MIND charity on their local programme 'Mums Matter'. Charlotte also offers 'The Gift Of Sleep' unique gifting boxes and vouchers, which enables you to gift a little bit of sleepy dust to a friend.