Pregnancy Tips for Better Sleep When Expecting

Pregnancy brings a lot of unexpected surprises, but perhaps one of the least welcome is a disruption to your sleep schedule. Being pregnant is exhausting, so why are you lying awake counting sheep at a time when you need sleep the most?

Rest assured that you’re not alone. It turns out that many moms-to-be have trouble falling -- and staying -- asleep while pregnant due to the hormonal changes and physical discomfort of carrying a baby. While it’s frustrating, experts say the situation is fixable, and since your new baby’s health depends on your health, the more sleep you get during your pregnancy, the better. Read on for a pregnancy tip for each trimester that will help you get the rest you need.

Sleep tip for the first trimester
During the first few months of your pregnancy, you may notice that you need to urinate more often in the middle of the night. This is normal, but to prevent the number of trips to the bathroom, avoid drinking too many fluids in the evenings. Just make sure you drink plenty of water during the day to make up for this.

Stress can also keep new moms-to-be awake, so if you’re worried about your new pregnancy, try keeping a journal next to your bed and jotting down your worries before you go to sleep. The act of writing them down may help alleviate your stress enough for you to fall asleep.

Sleep tip for the second trimester
Many moms-to-be find that their sleep improves during the second trimester as the need to urinate decreases. However, your changing body shape may present some sleep problems. As your baby grows, you’ll find that sleeping on your side with your knees bent may be the most comfortable position. While strategically placed pillows can help keep you in this side position, don’t worry if you roll over onto your back in the middle of the night -- it’s one of those parts of pregnancy that you can’t control.

Sleep tip for the third trimester
During the last trimester of your pregnancy, the need to urinate frequently often returns, along with heartburn, leg cramps, and discomfort due to your expanding belly. To help prepare your body for sleep, do something relaxing before you head to bed, such as taking a warm bath for 15 minutes.

Getting into a regular bedtime routine can also help your body shut down for a good night’s sleep. While it might be tempting to work into the night getting ready for your new baby, remember to put your needs first. The nursery decorations can wait until the morning!

If you find a bedtime routine that works for you, be sure to stick to it. While it is possible to get a good night’s sleep while pregnant, you’ll find that it isn’t as easy once you have a new baby in the house, so stock up on your shut-eye now!

Baby Sleep Schedule Basics

After the early months of nighttime feedings, your baby will probably be ready to sleep through the night at around six months. Setting up a regular sleep routine will help calm her down after a busy day of play and get her ready for a good night’s sleep. Here are several ideas to incorporate into your new baby’s sleep schedule so you can both get some rest.

Baby sleep solution: Be consistent.
Babies do best with routine, and bedtime is no exception. Keeping the same sleep schedule each night will help comfort your child, and she’ll come to know just what to expect. While it’s not always possible to have the exact routine every time (you may be away one night or on vacation), aim to keep your new baby’s bedtime routine and timing about the same.

Baby sleep solution: Come clean. 
A warm bath makes everyone feel a little drowsy, so it’s just the ticket for your new baby, too. Babies don’t need to be scrubbed head to toe every night, but a quick dip in warm water can be very relaxing. Washing her face, neck, and hands with a warm cloth is fine if you’re short on time.

Baby sleep solution: Spin a tale.
Reading, of course, is wonderful for your baby’s language development, and when it’s done in the evening, it’s a lovely way to bond and feel cozy together. Introducing a short board book or two at the end of your baby’s sleep routine will signal to your little one that the day is coming to a close.

Baby sleep solution: Croon a tune.
Yup, even if you can’t sing on key, just a few bars of the same song will help soothe your new baby. You could also rock your baby or sway gently as you sing, but don’t hold her until she’s deep in sleep, since this can make it hard for her to learn how to drift off to sleep on her own. Putting her to bed when she’s drowsy but still awake is a better bet.

Baby sleep solution: Don’t rush in.
If your child wakes in the night, give her a few minutes to go back to sleep on her own. Most infants can soothe themselves to sleep at this age, so allow your new baby a bit of time to try. If she seems unable to settle down, make it quick. Try not to turn on bright lights, talk loudly or play with her. The idea is to keep things calm so she can go right back to sleep.

Setting up a sleep schedule that works can take some time, but most babies thrive once a routine has been established. Be sure to let the other people who care for your baby know what works for your new baby (one story followed by two songs, for example) too. Stick with it, and you’ll both be having better nights.

On-the-Go Baby Sleep Solutions

Vacation time isn’t just fun, it’s also great for your new baby’s development as it introduces her to novel sights and sounds. Unfortunately, the new surroundings have their disadvantages, too. In fact, the new sleeping arrangements and hotel bed can disrupt even the best sleeper’s peaceful bedtime routine. Making the hotel room a comfortable place for your child to sleep can help ensure sweet slumber. Use these on-the-go baby sleep solutions to help set up a cozy bedtime environment for your newbie traveler.

Practice at home.
Do you plan to use a portable crib on your trip? If so, think about breaking it out at home and letting your new baby sleep in it for a few nights. She’ll have a chance to experience how it feels, helping to prep her for when you use it at the hotel.

Pack some friends.
It goes without saying: Don’t forget your little one’s beloved soft bear, her soft, frayed blanket, and her favorite pacifier. Most children are very attached to their companions and are unable to sleep well without them, so definitely include her favorite one (or two) on your packing list.

Think about space.
If your new baby or older child sleeps in her own room at home, suddenly having you right next to her at night may be disruptive. Check around and compare prices for connecting rooms and suites. If the trade-off is a good night’s sleep on vacation, it may be worth the money to book the extra space.

Keep a routine.
If a bath, two stories, three songs, and butterfly kisses are what it takes to send your new baby off to dreamland at home, then use the same send-off while traveling. Your child will find comfort in the familiar routine, and because the activities signal that it’s time to go to sleep, they will help her settle down while on vacation.

Traveling with kids is always an adventure, but making sure your new baby gets the sleep she needs at the hotel is the first step toward a restful and fun-filled vacation for all. 

Top 10 Tips for Baby Napping Success

There’s no greater feeling of relief for a new mom than when her new baby finally sleeps through the night. But busy babes also need to nap during the day in order to recharge (and so you can finally tackle your to-do list!). These 10 daytime baby sleep solutions will help put you on the path to snoozing success.

1. Know the numbers. Depending on your new baby’s age, she’ll need at least two naps a day (one in the morning and another in the afternoon), and possibly a third in the early evening.

2. Be consistent. Sticking to your baby’s napping schedule on a daily basis is important, as little ones thrive on routine. Time your errands and other outings carefully so you don’t disrupt your tot’s napping schedule.

3. Don’t wait. Put your little one in her crib when she’s first showing signs of sleepiness but is still awake, as it can be difficult to get an overly tired baby to fall asleep.

4. Put safety first. If your new baby falls asleep in your arms, move her to the crib, and reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by always placing her to sleep on her back. 

5. Set the scene. Keep your baby’s naptime very matter-of-fact, and skip long stories and extra cuddling. Just a gentle hug and a short lullaby are all you need to signal to your little one that naptime has arrived.

6. Don’t give up. It can take a few minutes for some tots to settle in and go to sleep, but it’s best to let your new baby drift off to sleep without you in the nursery. If you go into her room too soon or too often you may confuse her into thinking that napping is a game.

7. Stay out. Rushing in to check on every peep and cry can distract your new baby from falling asleep. Instead, only check on her if you think she’s uncomfortable or unsafe.

8. Keep things light. It’s normal for babies to mix up night and day. To help your new baby distinguish between daytime napping and bedtime, keep the shades open so that there is light in her room.

9. Readjust your schedule. If you feel your tot’s daytime napping is affecting her nighttime sleep, scale back one of her naps (wake her up from it sooner, for example) or let her drop one altogether.

10. Stick with itIt’s not uncommon for babies to resist naps, but stick with it and remember that daytime sleep is a must for your little one’s development. Your baby’s napping will refresh and refuel, giving her the energy she needs to play and learn.

Photo by Peter Oslanec on Unsplash

Decode Your New Baby’s Sleep Movements

It’s hard to resist peering into your new baby’s crib to spy on her as she sleeps. But don’t be surprised if, instead of a peacefully slumbering infant, you see your baby twitch and flail her limbs. Try not to worry -- the jerky sleep movements are part of your baby’s regular development. Read on to take a peek into what’s going on in your baby’s sleep.

It may be tempting to assume your new baby is having a fascinating dream when you witness her sleep movements. But while babies do spend more time than adults in REM sleep, or the dream state, it’s unlikely that they are experiencing vivid dreams, as infants haven’t had many experiences and their brains are too immature.

Stretching out
Don’t forget that your new baby was accustomed to spending her time curled into a little ball in the womb. Now that’s she’s in the big, wide world, she’s learning to move her limbs and may flap and flounder about -- something that is completely normal.

New nerves
Your newborn’s central nervous system is still developing, leaving her rather out of control when it comes to her body’s movements. Once she’s older, your baby will have better command of her limbs and will be able to move them on purpose, rather than randomly twitching them.

Light sleeper
At this age, babies are very light sleepers and won’t enter many periods of deep slumber. In addition to her sleep movements and various twitches, you may notice that she grimaces, sucks, and smacks her lips, flutters her eyelids, smiles briefly, startles, and wakes up rather easily.

Time to roll
Always remember to put your new baby to sleep in her crib on her back (doing so can greatly decrease her risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS). But between four and seven months, your baby may manage to roll onto her belly in the crib, which isn’t something to be concerned about. Once babies can roll over consistently, they’ll pick the sleep position they want on their own.

Your baby’s sleep movements may seem rather strange, but they’re simply her way of learning how to control and use her body. However, if you think your baby is twitching too much or it’s making her uncomfortable and unable to relax, give your pediatrician a call. A better night’s sleep for your baby equals a better night’s sleep for everyone in your household!

Photo by Manuel Schinner on Unsplash