Rest And Relaxation
Inevitably there will be times during your pregnancy when your body tells you to rest. This may happen during the first few weeks, when tiredness can be quite overwhelming. To help you to cope with this, set aside times during the day when you can take the opportunity to take a brief nap. Even 10 minutes can help to replenish your energy stores and take the'edge'off the tiredness.
Relaxation is more than just resting. It is possible to rest physically but still be alert mentally, perhaps thinking about 'things to do'. It is important that you recognize how to clear your mind and truly unwind. Relaxing is a skill that can benefit anyone at any time of life, not just during labour.
Pregnancy is the ideal time to start learning relaxation techniques, as they will benefit not only you, but also your baby. They can lower your blood pressure and increase the oxygen supply to your baby, helping her to thrive. Tension can be caused by many different things: work, money, family or even worries about your pregnancy and it affects both the mind and body.
Unfortunately many people do not realize when they are tense. Relaxation does not have to be structured - it can be as simple as taking time out every day to sit back, close your eyes and think about something peaceful.
Pregnancy can disrupt your sleep, sometimes almost as soon as you miss that first period. According to one theory, this is nature's way of preparing you for the sleepless nights to come, but that seems too cruel - you need all the sleep that you can get now, in view of what lies ahead!
During the early weeks
Your metabolic rate increases by 20 per cent during pregnancy, which means that your body is working harder and, although you might feel tired, it is hard to'switch off'as your mind is still working overtime. In the early weeks, it is very common to wake during the night to go to the toilet, as the uterus is squashed against the bladder, but, as the uterus expands, it rises above the bladder, relieving the pressure.
During late pregnancy
At around 30 weeks of pregnancy, women find it hard to get to sleep because their growing bump makes it difficult to get comfortable. There are things that you can try.
- Lie on your left side with one pillow underneath to support your bump and another between your knees.
- Taking some gentle exercise during the day can help you to sleep at night, so try going for an evening walk or a swim after work.
- Avoid stimulants, such as tea, coffee and fizzy drinks but have a drink of warm milk instead.
- Enjoy a soak in a warm, but not hot, bath before bed.
- Do not allow yourself to get overtired as this can make it even harder to fall asleep.
- Try to stay cool at night, particularly if you are suffering from frequent night sweats.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, you may find that, when you are ready to sleep, it is time for your baby to be active, and this can keep you awake. It may be worth considering giving up work earlier than you originally planned if you are not sleeping well. At least you can then rest whenever you want to during the day.
As your baby gets bigger, her head will put pressure on your bladder and you will find that, as in the early weeks of your pregnancy, you are waking to go to the toilet several times a night.
There is nothing worse than lying in bed unable to get to sleep. It is far better to switch on the light and read a book or magazine, or get yourself a warm drink and wait until you feel sleepy, then try again. However, make time to rest the following day or the tiredness will inevitably catch up with you.