By Dr. Deena Blanchard and Dr. Stephanie Lam
When you're pregnant and a new mom, sleep can seem like an ever-elusive thing you're always trying to get. As a pediatrician and OB/GYN with five kids between us, we get it. Here are some of our favorite tips for getting as much rest as you can while pregnant and when your little one arrives.
1. A bed should be for sleeping only.
I think we're all guilty of crawling into bed at night, and then watching TV or reading a book or even chatting on the phone. These activities are confusing to our body and mind. Try to restrict the activities you do in bed. When you lie your head down on your pillow at night, it should be for sleep only.
2. Keep a schedule and a routine.
One of the best pieces of advice I can offer my pregnant patients is to keep a regular bedtime and morning routine. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time each morning. In addition to this, try to keep your night and morning routine consistent from day to day, whether it's bathing at night or reading a book or what have you. Consistency is key.
3. Be careful about when and what you're eating.
Avoid caffeinated products, especially during the evening and prior to bedtime. Caffeine, as well as other stimulants, will interfere with your ability to fall asleep, as well as disrupt deep sleep. If you're accustomed to having a caffeinated beverage at night, try to replace it with a decaf or caffeine-free alternative. Additionally, try to avoid spicy foods at night, as they can worsen your heartburn symptoms and make it more difficult to fall asleep. Eating smaller meals throughout the day can help minimize heartburn as well.
This tip applies to before and after the baby is born. As adults, most of us don’t get a lot of daytime sleep. When you're pregnant, a short nap during the day can help give you the energy you need to keep moving. Once your little one arrives, you will likely be given the advice to "sleep while the baby sleeps". This is often hard to do, but naps are a must. It will help make the frequent nighttime awakenings and sleep deprivation less painful.
4. Try meditating.
As a pregnant woman and soon-to-be new mother, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Despite the exhaustion, it’s often hard to settle down and rest, as your mind may be running a mental to-do list. You can download a guided meditation app to help you. I personally started mediating and using a guided yoga nidra album I downloaded and found it really helpful. Even with my baby now being one year old, I still use it to help me fall asleep.
5. Choose the right position for sleep.
The best sleep position for pregnant women is lying on their left side, which increases the amount of blood flow to the uterus, and in turn the baby. Try investing in a pregnancy pillow to help keep you comfortable. These pillows help support your abdomen and can make side-sleeping more comfortable. Don’t want to invest in a body pillow? Place a pillow between your knees, as this can help as well.
6. Create a sleep environment that promotes sleep.
This applies to both moms and little ones. Using black out shades as well as a sound machine to provide white noise can be helpful. Infants find white noise comforting, and it may help them sleep longer spurts. Be careful not to place the sound machine too close to the crib, as too much loud noise can affect hearing.
7. Don’t forget the mattress!
As adults, we spend a lot of time choosing the right mattress for ourselves, and your little one deserves the same. Go for both comfort and safety with a breathable mattress. I like the Wovenaire® mattress by Newton. This mattress is 100% breathable, which gives a whole new peace of mind when rollovers happen. Added bonus: This mattress is hypoallergenic and washable! I can personally say my baby sleeps really well on it and does not wake up with a sweaty head or back in the morning because the breathability allows complete airflow.
8. Don’t overheat!
Keeping the room cool promotes healthy sleep. The ideal temperature for sleep is 68-72 degrees.