Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sleep Stages - Before and After Baby

The toughest time for a woman to get enough sleep is during the last weeks of pregnancy and when baby first comes home. But we all know what lack of sleep can do to a person and how it messes up our whole system.

Pregnant women have definite problems getting and staying comfortable when pregnant and trying to get the optimum rest that they so badly need. This is because of the hormones and your body working overtime to produce a healthy baby.

Sleep is necessary not only for mom but for the baby as well, but unfortunately sleep can be a fleeting thing when you are in the last trimester of pregnancy. Some will argue this is to help prepare you for after the baby is born, but usually this discomfort is because of a) the size of the mother and b) the movement of the baby. Also, further complications can further interrupt sleep such as Restless Leg Syndrome or thoughts that keep you awake.

These last few weeks of pregnancy is when you need to rest the most. Your best advice is to talk to your doctor, but there are a couple of things you can do at home.

-Try and sleep on your left side. During the last couple of weeks of both my pregnancies, I slept on the couch. While fairly comfy but not a lot of support, I was able to lay on my side and used the back of the couch as support for my back.

-Put a pillow between your knees. There are a variety of pillows that you can purchase that you can use between your knees or for your back pain. Sometimes there are offered far sale at big box maternity clothing stores or other stores where you find baby items.

Take care of your child by taking care of you!

Getting sleep after the baby is born is definitely a challenge! You will need to get plenty of rest in the first few weeks after baby is born so you should enlist the help of other trusted family members. See if someone can help you do your daily tasks around the house after the baby comes home. Also do not try to be a hero, let some stuff go for awhile. If things do not get done, do not worry about them. Your health is much more important than, well, you get the picture.

Try and establish waking and sleeping times for your baby. Give the baby their bathe in the evening, this will help the baby stay up longer and sleep while you are sleeping. If you set up a bedtime routine as soon as possible, eventually the baby will understand that after the routine, it is time for sleeping.

Here are a few ideas that you can use before and after the baby is born to ensure you get the optimum sleep that you need and so richly deserve.

- Eat to sleep. This means do not eat anything heavy before bedding down for the night. If you are hungry, eat a small snack such as crackers and cheese or some fruit. And on the other hand, eat for energy. Eat foods that are high in protein, not carbs.

-Try to keep stress at a minimum. If you work outside of the office, leave your work at work. Try and learn some relaxation skills, this will also help you become more restful and will come in handy as your baby grows up!

-Create a sleep friendly atmosphere. From the bed to the room, there are many things that can interrupt our sleep. Make sure your mattress is not saggy, that your bedroom is the right temperature and that it is dark or light enough to ensure a good nights sleep.

-Relax your body and mind for sleep. Have a massage or a hot bath, write down things that you need to remember,

-If you get sleepy, go lay down. This can be the case even after the baby is born. If the baby is sleeping, go rest, do not try and get stuff done around the house. You might consider changing your bedtimes and wake times if at all possible to enable you to get some extra sleep.

-Enlist help before and after the baby, especially if you have other children. Have them take them out for a morning a week or so or have your spouse take your child to school; anything to give you some extra resting time.

-Do not forget to exercise. Talk to your doctor about what kinds of exercises you should and should not do.

Sleep seems to be a distant memory near the end of a pregnancy or when the new baby comes home, but this too shall pass, thankfully!

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