Five Solutions for Top Pregnancy Sleep Issues

If you’re tossing and turning at night, unable to get the rest you need, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Many new moms-to-be have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, especially as their pregnancy progresses. It’s important to try to resolve your bedtime battles sooner rather than later, as good sleep during pregnancy is linked to a healthier baby and an easier delivery. Read on for some common pregnancy sleep problems and how to solve them.

Trouble getting comfortable: Use a pregnancy pillow to wrap around your tummy, elevate your legs, or assist you when lying on your side. If you have pain in your lower back, experiment with extra pillows to relieve any muscle tension. Try one pillow under your abdomen, one between your legs, a firm one behind your back, and an extra one under your head, for example.

Headaches and nausea: If headaches are disturbing your sleep, you may be suffering from low blood sugar. Try eating a light snack with protein and carbohydrates such as scrambled eggs and toast, which will help to keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the night. If you find yourself feeling nauseous when you lie down for the night, you may want to start eating small, bland snacks throughout the day, like crackers or toast.

Hot flashes or night sweats: Make sure the bedroom stays cool by cracking open a window, using a fan, or turning down the thermostat. Also, close the curtains or blinds before you turn in for the night. You’ll find it much easier to fall asleep and stay asleep if the room is cool and dark.

Frequent trips to the bathroom: Cut off your consumption of liquids a few hours before bedtime to reduce the number of times you have to get up during the night. However, with your growing new baby putting constant pressure on your bladder, some nighttime trips to the bathroom may be unavoidable. A nightlight or a dimmer switch is a better choice than turning on a bright overhead light, which can make it difficult to fall back asleep.

Heartburn: Avoid spicy, acidic, or fried foods, especially a few hours before bedtime, and make sure not to recline for at least an hour or two after eating. If the problem persists, try sleeping with your head elevated on a pillow or speak with your doctor.

You may need to follow more than one or even all of these tips in order to solve your sleep problems. But don’t give up! A proper night’s rest will give your body the energy it needs to have a healthy pregnancy.

Facts about Pregnancy Cravings

For many women around the world, having a baby often comes with an array of new eating habits and cravings, from feasting on a tray of brownies to dipping pickles in curry. But what are pregnancy cravings exactly? Here’s a look at some common cravings and ways to satisfy them without derailing your pregnancy diet or harming your baby.

Understanding pregnancy cravings

You want an entire bag of chips, or an ice cream sundae, and you want it now. Strong urges like these are common among new moms during pregnancy, and no one is completely certain why they occur. Some experts believe that pregnancy cravings happen as a result of your body asking for the nutrients it needs. So desires for ice cream sundaes or a tray of brownies could be a signal that your body needs more calcium or fat

Top cravings from around the world

Most food cravings fall into the sweet, spicy, salty, or sour category, and include foods like ice cream, pickles, soda, lemon, tomatoes, and chocolate.

Craving caveat

Keep in mind that while many pregnancy cravings can be very strong, oftentimes your body doesn’t need the specific food you’re craving, just something in that food. And filling up on unhealthy foods can lead to excessive weight gain during pregnancy and nutritional deficiencies for both mom and baby.

How to satisfy your craving

So how do you satisfy a pregnancy craving without doing any damage to your overall health or the health of your new baby? Learn to understand your cravings and satisfy them by eating small amounts of what you desire without overdoing it, or by choosing something similar but  more healthful. That hankering for a vanilla milkshake could just be your body’s desire for calcium and can be sated by a cup of low-fat yogurt, while some crunchy carrots may satisfy a potato chip craving (or maybe not). 

And if a healthy alternative doesn’t do the job? Take your mind off of your craving by going for a walk, spending time with another new mom to-be, or calling a friend to talk about your day.

Insomnia When Expecting

There’s nothing worse than tossing and turning when you want to be fast asleep. Your mind is racing, the room suddenly feels hot, and the longer you lie awake, the more frustrated you feel.  Add to this an ever-expanding belly, back and neck aches, and the inability to get comfortable in any position, and you’ve got pregnancy insomnia. Here are four tips to help you go from restless to restful:

New mom insomnia tip #1: Get up and change your setting. If you find yourself wide-awake in the middle of the night, lying in bed may not be the best choice. Instead, get up and read a book, listen to some calming music, or do a mundane chore to help get your mind off the fact that you can’t sleep. Then, once you feel yourself getting tired, lie back down and try again.

New mom insomnia tip #2: Avoid bright lights. Even if you feel wide-awake, resist the urge to throw on a bright overhead light before bedtime. Instead, go to a room where you have a dimmer switch or a lamp with soft lighting, which will be less arousing and allow you to return to sleep more quickly.

New mom insomnia tip #3: Try guided imagery. Picture yourself in a quiet, relaxing scene. You may be lying on a warm, sandy beach, or strolling through fields full of beautiful, scented wildflowers. Now, visualize every detail of the scene. Imagine the sounds, smells, and textures around you. It may take some practice, but guided imagery can calm your restless or anxious mind.

New mom insomnia tip #4: Take a bath. If you’re wide awake and feeling so tense that you can’t fall back asleep, a warm bath may help get you back to a more relaxed state. A cup of warm milk or chamomile tea can also help soothe you to sleep.

With any luck, one or more of these strategies will do the trick and send you off into dreamland. Enjoy your well-earned night's rest.

Kegel Lessons for Expectant Moms

As a soon-to-be new mom, you know there are many beautiful parts of pregnancy -- and others that you could probably live without. High on that unwanted list is often urinary incontinence, or pelvic floor problems.

Urinary incontinence occurs when a person is no longer able to hold urine in the urethra, causing leaks from time to time. This problem is common among pregnant women and new moms, since unborn babies push down on the bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor muscles, weakening support and causing leaks. Labor then further complicates the issue by additionally weakening pelvic floor support, and potentially even damaging the nerves that control the bladder.

Luckily, Kegel exercises have been proven to help strengthen pelvic floor muscles. (Keep in mind that most bladder or urinary tract issues caused by pregnancy and delivery go away within six months of giving birth. If yours don’t, see your doctor for additional treatment or help.) If you’re ready to start strengthening, follow these tips:

1.    Identify your pelvic muscles. In order to get the most out of the exercises, begin by identifying the correct muscles. To do this, try stopping your urination midstream. The muscles that you use to stop the flow are the same ones you’ll want to work in your Kegel exercises.

2.    Get comfortable. Before starting the exercise, be sure your bladder is empty, and find a comfortable place where you can lie on your back. Then, tighten your pelvic floor muscles, holding the contraction for five seconds. Repeat this tightening and releasing in five-second increments four or five times in a row. For best results, try working up to exercises where you are able to hold the muscles for 10 seconds at a time, and then relax for 10 seconds at a time.

3.    Practice makes perfect. One Kegel exercise session won’t be enough to help. For optimal results, try to perform 10 repetitions at least three times a day.

Don’t worry if it takes a while to get used to the exercises -- that’s perfectly normal. Just don’t give up. If you continue with the exercises on a routine basis, you may see results within just a few months of starting. And one less thing to worry about as a new mom is always welcome when you have a newborn!

Oral Hygiene: What New Moms Need to Know

It wasn’t long ago that pregnant women were advised to steer clear of the dentist out of concern over how various procedures might affect their unborn child. Turns out that routine cleanings and dental work are considered safe for most expectant moms and  may play an important role in a baby’s safety and health, too. Because of hormones, expectant mothers are more prone to oral infections and gum sensitivity, which can lead to early labor. Here are some easy-to-follow pregnancy tips for keeping your mouth (and your new baby) healthy.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #1: Keep your appointments. Regular cleanings and checkups are an essential part of anyone's oral hygiene regimen, but are especially crucial for pregnant women, whose hormonal changes put them at risk for a number of dental problems.  While these routine visits are safe for most women, it’s still important to let your dentist know you’re having a baby and to discuss any medical issues related to the pregnancy. Occasionally, women with high-risk pregnancies are advised to postpone certain treatments until after the new baby has arrived.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #2: Don’t fear simple procedures or X-rays. Although it’s always better to save elective procedures for after your due date, cavities and other common dental problems can and should be treated in order to avoid infection. Second trimester is the ideal time to take care of such issues, as the dentist’s chair can be quite uncomfortable by your third trimester!

While routine X-rays are commonly delayed for pregnant women, advancements in technology have greatly reduced the threat of radiation exposure. Should an X-ray be needed for an emergency procedure, your dentist will take extra precautions to ensure your baby’s safety.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #3: Watch your gums. Don’t focus only on your pearly whites: The hormonal surges that come with having a baby can also wreak havoc on your gums. Pregnancy gingivitis -- which results in inflamed and sore gums  -- and “pregnancy tumors” -- benign but sometimes painful lumps along the gum line  -- are particularly common. If you notice anything abnormal going on with your gums, call your dentist.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #4: Make oral hygiene part of your daily routine. As helpful as your dentist may be, oral health begins and ends at home. If you have morning sickness, try a more mild or bland toothpaste (ask your dentist or mommy-friends for suggestions). On the other hand, avoid brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting, as the still-present stomach acids can eventually cause teeth erosion and wear away at your enamel. Instead, rinse out with a combination of baking soda and water, which will leave your mouth fresh until it’s safe to brush.

You have a lot on your plate during pregnancy, but making the time for proper oral hygiene will go far to boost both your and your new baby’s health.