Somehow, being pregnant or having young children seems to make people think you’ve got a sign saying, “Give me advice that I don’t want!”
People will tell you when your baby’s hungry, they’ll tell you if your kid is cold, they’ll tell you how to parent. So being a parent is a lesson in patience: nodding and smiling to all the people who share their worldly wisdom with you.
And the one thing that people love to say when you’re expecting is: “Oh, better rest up — once that baby comes you’re not going to get any sleep.”
Of course, your newborn CAN learn to sleep well, but… is it feasible to expect to be able to rest up when you’re pregnant?
First things first: do you have a sleep sanctuary?
Yes, I’m serious. The first step to sleeping well is making sure that your room is a sleep sanctuary.
That’s going to mean making sure it’s dark – very dark! – in the room, even in the wee hours of the morning. If you have an alarm clock, it’s best if the numbers are red; if you have blue colored numbers, cover it up.
Do a hunt around your room for any other lights that you might have – from an AC, a monitor, an extension cord – and cover them all (preferably), or at least swap them out for something in the red-orange family.
You’re also going to want the room to be on the chillier side. Increased blood flow is going to mean a warmer body, and, much as we all sleep best in a cooler room, for moms-to-be that’s even more so. Set your thermostat between 65 and 68 if you can (or open the window in the winter!), or opt for a thinner blanket to keep you a little less toasty.
You also want your room to be organized and neat. Making your bed in the morning, tidying up before you’ll be going in to go to bed, and making the room neat and orderly in general will also go a long way in enabling you to get the best rest possible.
Have a routine
You’ve heard me talk about it for babies, but it’s just as important for us adults. The same basic rules apply: 20-30 minutes of the same steps in the same order every single night.
When your expecting, especially, taking the time to have a real, relaxing routine will help you wind down and go to sleep as easily and well as possible.
Try to include some deep breathing exercises, some journaling or some visualization. You can simultaneously get ready for bed and ready for labor as you practice relaxing and get your brain and body into a calmer rhythm.
Try a warm bath to relieve your body’s aches and pains and let the water carry the weight of the baby — if only for a short while.
(Of course, some of these things will not be an option on Shabbos/Yom Tov, so you can try bathing/journalling during chol, and then simply doing deep breathing or visualization on the nights when you can’t do melacha.)
Get a Pillow
A nice, good, geshmak one. One that will support your baby, your hips, your body and enable you to sleep as well as possible.
As your baby grows, and you grow too, turning over in bed will become something of a full-night occupation. Of course, your ability to roll over easily will be dependent on how large you are, but, for most women in their last trimester, it’s not something they can do mindlessly.
And that’s where things start to get tricky. Much like the way babies’ sleep is interrupted by props link because their partial awakenings at night, many expectant women will wake after each sleep cycle to readjust themselves and get comfy again.
While having a pillow will not help you roll over any easier, it may help you to stay comfortable for longer, enabling you to (maybe!) get two consecutive sleep cycles before waking to turn over.
After trying things myself and speaking to other women, I’ve come to the conclusion that while you can, technically, use a couple regular pillows to support yourself, inevitably, they will slide around (and slide off your bed) and not do very much toward your goal of getting a good night’s sleep.
Of course you want to be drinking enough water when you’re expecting… but suddenly it’s 6:00 and you’ve hardly drunk anything!
So you spend the next 4 hours on a water-consuming marathon…
… And then spend the night waking to use the bathroom.
You can use one of these amazing cups to keep you on track for your water consumption earlier in the day, and then tone down in the evening hours.
Be sure to take a bathroom stop right before you head into bed to maximize your ability to sleep through the night.
Keep a dim (preferably reddish) nightlight on in the bathroom, too. That way, in the event you do have to use the bathroom, during the night, at least you’ll be able to fall asleep easier afterwards.
Which of these tips will you try tonight?