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Pregnancy Sleep Tips

By: Dr Deena Blanchard and Dr. Stephanie Lam

When you are pregnant and a new mom, sleep can seem like an ever elusive thing you are always trying to get. As a Pediatrician and an 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.

A bed should be for sleeping only: I think we are 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 and restrict the activities you do in bed.  When you lie your head down on your pillow at night, it should be for sleep only.  

 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 & morning routine.  Try and go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time each morning. In addition to this, try and keep your night and morning routine consistent from day to day.  Whether it's bathing at night, or reading a book....consistency is key.  

Be careful about when and what you are 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 are accustomed to having a caffeinated beverage at night, try and replace it with a de-caf alternative.  In addition to this, 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 heart burn as well.

 Nap!: This applies to before, and after the baby is born. As adults, most of us don’t get a lot of daytime sleep. When you are 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.

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 years old, I still use it to help me fall asleep.

Choose the right position for sleep: The best sleep position for pregnant women is lying on their left side. This 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.

Create a sleep environment that promotes sleep. This applies to both moms and little ones. Using black out shades can be helpful,  as well as a sound machine to provide white noise. 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.

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.  This mattress is hypo-allergenic 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 air flow.

Don’t overheat! Keeping the room cool promotes healthy sleep. The ideal temperature for sleep is 68-72 degrees.  

The Big Idea: Happiest Baby on the Block

Once upon a time, your bedside table was stacked with Pulitzer prize-winning novels and new issues of The New Yorker. But between round-the-clock feedings and weeks of choppy sleep, you may find yourself struggling to make it through the dizzying array of books about optimizing babies’ shut-eye. Our Big Idea series is here to helpby summarizing the essential ideas you’ll find in popular sleep books.


Background:

Harvey Karp, a Los Angeles-based pediatrician to the stars, published The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Baby Sleep Longer in 2002. His (relatively) simple five-step method continues to be hugely popular, and though your mother-in-law will likely think it’s a little kooky, you’ll be hard pressed to find a parent of an infant today who hasn’t given it a shot.

 

Philosophy:

Karp’s method hinges on his theory that human babies are born too early and the first three months are essentially a “fourth trimester.” Thus, while you may think babies want calm and quiet, what they actually find most comforting is a reproduction of the conditions in the womb—where it’s loud, jiggly, and confining.


Takeaway Tips:

The meat of Karp’s book is his “Five S’s System,” which advises parents to soothe babies by swaddling tightly, making a loud “shush” noise in their ears, rocking them in a swinging motion, holding them in a side or stomach-down position (only while awake), and satisfying their sucking reflex with a pacifier. And, yes, he advises doing all of that at the same time.

 

Pros/Cons:

Some parents find that it really works like magic, others that their babies simply don’t respond to it.


How to Get More Info:

You can borrow the book from another new mom but we recommend downloading the video, since you really need a visual demonstration.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-happiest-baby-on-the-block/id537048114

The Sleep Safety Checklist

As a new parent, tossing and turning over your infant’s sleep habits is totally normal. Luckily, there are plenty of precautions you can take. Read on to find out the best way for baby to get a good night’s rest.

-For the first several months, the safest place for baby to sleep is in your room. Station her crib or bassinet within arm’s reach of your bed. That way, you’ll be able to keep a close eye on her and have her close for frequent feedings. Though you may be tempted to nestle her in your own bed, rolling over on her while you’re slumbering is a real risk.
 
-Babies need supportive mattresses with far less give than those made for adults. Choose a firm one, such as Newton baby’s, and outfit it in fitted sheets that meet current safety standards.

-Your baby’s growing collection of teddy bears is adorable, but it’s best to keep snuggly buddies out of her crib during infancy. Same goes for pillows, bumper pads, and blankets.

-When it comes to room temperature, cooler is better. Rooms should be in a range that’s comfortable for a lightly clothed adult (most experts recommend between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit). If you notice sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash, or rapid breathing, chances are baby’s too hot.
 
-If her room is a little too chilly, cocoon her in a sleep sack or wearable blanket. The quilt that Grandma stitched may look pretty, but loose bedding can impair breathing if it’s too close to baby’s face.

-While your own mother may have placed you in your crib on your tummy many years ago, remind her that it’s a no-no nowadays. Same goes for laying baby down on his side. Because little ones can accidently roll onto their stomachs, the position is equally as dangerous.
 
-That said, you should schedule tummy time when baby is awake. Letting her linger on her belly strengthens muscles and and encourages rolling and crawling. In fact, the American Physical Therapy Association recommends it from day one to help avoid developmental delays.

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