Awake at Night? 6 Ways to Promote Sleep in Late Pregnancy 0
Is your growing belly keeping you from getting regular zzzs? You’re not alone. Matter of fact, according to Babycentre.com, more than half of all women in their third trimesters rate their sleep as poor. Late pregnancy symptoms such as leg cramps, heartburn, and frequent trips to the bathroom seem to prevent a good night’s rest for many exhausted mamas-to-be. However, aside from idealistically installing a portable potty in your bed, there are some realistic, natural ways that you can get comfortable and sleep more in late pregnancy in preparation for your babe’s arrival.
- Pay attention to what and when you eat
Aside from the nutritional needs that your baby has, eating to nourish your own body and promote relaxation is incredibly important in pregnancy. Hydrate as much as possible during the earlier part of the day and try to limit fluid-intake in the evening, as this will cause you to need more midnight bathroom breaks. (Be careful to still drink if you are thirsty, as dehydration is more dangerous in pregnancy than sleep deprivation.)
Snack often, snack smartly, snack before you go to bed, and snack during the night. Constantly keeping your stomach slightly full can help manage stomach acids. Eating a combination of protein and complex carbohydrate stabilizes your blood sugar. And, eating carbohydrates immediately before bed has been found to help relax the body. Also, keep snacks by your bed to prevent you from fully waking up to eat when you you’re starving at 3 am.
- Manage your heartburn
Although heartburn is often inescapable in pregnancy, there are ways to minimize the effects. Eating smaller meals more often will help, as will correct positioning of yourself in bed. Sleeping slightly elevated is one option and can easily be accomplished by raising the head of your bed on risers/sturdy books. Sometimes, it can be more restful to cuddle upright in a recliner during late pregnancy. If swelling is also an issue, then prop your legs up on pillows while still keeping your head and chest slightly elevated as well.
If heartburn becomes unmanageable, contact your doctor who can prescribe medications and/or supplements that are safe to take while pregnant. Magnesium, specifically, has been known to help with heartburn, relaxation, constipation, and muscle cramps.
- Exercise wisely
Well-timed aerobic exercise such as brisk walking and swimming are wonderful during pregnancy; however, try to exercise earlier in the day when endorphins are less likely to keep you awake. While yoga and stretching exercises may help your body wind down in the evening, most cardiovascular workouts will wake your body up instead of promoting rest.
- Take cat naps
Especially in late pregnancy, sleep when and where you can. While napping has the reputation of making it more challenging to fall asleep later, this danger can usually be ignored during the third trimester when rest – at any time of the day – is worth its weight in gold. If you find that napping late in the day does disturb your night’s rest, then limit naps to only morning/afternoon hours. Your goal is to be as well rested as possible for your coming labor and months of feeding a baby throughout the night.
- Practice meditation
Specific relaxation techniques and routines, including meditation, yoga and self-hypnosis, can help you de-stress after a hectic day and give you an opportunity to focus on your body’s and baby’s needs. Set aside time every night before bed to pamper yourself. Talk to your baby. Rub your belly. Perhaps have your partner massage your body. Listen to guided relaxation audio tracks and allow your body to slip into a peaceful slumber. As an added benefit, learning how to relax during pregnancy will help you relax during labor and potentially ease your birth experience.
- Get regular prenatal massages
Make sure to check with your care provider before scheduling appointments, but for most women prenatal massage is safe and beneficial. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), benefits of prenatal massage include a reduction of anxiety/depression, relief of muscle and joint aches, improvement in labor and newborn health outcomes, hormone regulation, reduction of swelling, improvement of nerve (including sciatic) pain, and better sleep.
- Journal through your pregnancy
Sometimes stress and fears about pregnancy and parenthood can keep you from sleeping well. Or, maybe it is the overwhelming, never-ending to-do lists that you can’t get out of your head. Take time to journal about what is bothering you. Allow yourself to explore any emotional trauma or worries and seek professional help if you find that you are dealing with unresolved issues, depression or anxiety.
Sleep during pregnancy is valuable and can often feel like the elusive prize. However, you don’t have to remain haggard in late pregnancy. Instead, talk to your care provider about alternative ways to manage your health and achieve more sleep for you and your baby. Article Sources: American Pregnancy Association. (2014, January). Massage and pregnancy – prenatal massage. American Pregnancy Association: Promoting Pregnancy Wellness. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/prenatal-massage/. Babycentre Medical Advisory Board. (2011, June). Sleep in the third trimester. Babycentre.com. Retrieved from http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a547418/sleep-in-the-third-trimester.
Author: Lauren Hasz
Photo Credit: Johnathan Nightingale, Flickr.com
Alcohol & Fetal White Matter, Steroids and Prematurity & Fetal DNA Testing 1Drinking While Pregnant Damages Fetal Brain White Matter We all know that drinking and pregnancy don't mix. We generally contend that a glass of wine with a meal is fine but getting buzzed or drinking heavily is a huge no- no. It is so dangerous that most doctors and health care professionals simply make a blanket statement to err on the side of caution and avoid all alcohol while pregnant. A study published online on Dec. 19 and in the March print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with altered white-matter integrity. According to the washingtonpost.com "The brain's white matter is made up of nerve bundles that transfer information between brain regions," study corresponding author Susanna L. Fryer, a researcher at San Diego State University's Center for Behavioral Teratology, said in a news release. "Optimal white-matter integrity is thought to support efficient cognition. So, the finding that prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with altered white-matter integrity may help explain aspects of the cognitive and behavioral problems that individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) commonly face," she said. "The brains of individuals with FASDs showed evidence of altered nerve fiber integrity at a microstructural level, even though total brain size was statistically equivalent between alcohol-exposed and comparison participants," Fryer said. Women at risk for premature births only need one round of steroid shots, study finds. Thousands of women at high risk for preterm birth receive steroid shots which speed fetal blood vessel and lung development. This can help prevent breathing problems, brain bleeds and even newborn death. According to Reuters.uk: "..a study of 1,858 women in 20 countries, published in the Lancet medical journal on Thursday, showed that additional injections every 14 days did not improve the health of the babies and actually resulted in smaller babies. 'The key findings from our study were that there was no benefit (from the repeated courses of injections) and therefore that repeated doses should not be used,' Dr. Kellie Murphy of the University of Toronto and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, who led the study, said in a telephone interview." U.S. Government and Baylor in cahoots to test fetal DNA Baylor College of Medicine is offering a service to test fetal DNA for about 200 rare genetic syndromes, most involving mental retardation. There is no treatment for these conditions in utero and no treatment available after birth. The idea behind the screening then, is to allow the parents the option of terminating the pregnancy as 80-95% of expectant parents do when faced with a Down's Syndrome diagnosis in utero. The implications are heartbreaking and of course we at A Much Better Way are appalled that anyone could terminate a Down's baby because they are of course as important and wonderful as everyone else. In addition to the ethical, eugenics side of the coin, we have to wonder if why the U.S. Government would sponsor such a study? We believe it is in an effort to collect fetal DNA (not because they are suddenly concerned with the incidence of these 200 rare syndromes.) Perhaps the current DNA collection via newborn PKU testing is not working out for them.
Phthalates during Pregnancy Cause Genital Defects in Boys 5Here is one more reason to watch what you put on your skin during pregnancy. A new animal study has found that phthalates during pregnancy increases the likelihood of a genital defect in baby boys. The genital defect, called hypospadias, occurs when the baby boy's urethra exits the underside of the penis. Doctors have seen a near 100% increase of this type of defect since the 1960s. Phthalates are also linked to undescended testicles, smaller penises and overall feminization of males. Phthalates are so dangerous because they either mimic or block our natural hormones and male fetuses are especially vulnerable. According to "Theodore Schettler, a physician and science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, an environmental advocacy group. 'There's a huge animal database showing how exposures to phthalates during development can have effects at levels hundreds of times lower than these needed to show any impact on an adult,' he said. Timing of the exposure matters, and the most harm may occur between the eighth and 15th weeks of pregnancy, when a fetus' sexual differentiation starts, he said.
Timing of the exposure matters, and the most harm may occur between the eighth and 15th weeks of pregnancy'If my testosterone dropped by 20 or 30 percent for a couple of days, it wouldn't matter,' he said. 'But for a developing fetus, it could matter a whole lot if there was a substantial drop in testosterone.' Phthalates fall into a group of chemicals called endocrine disruptors because they either mimic or block the action of human hormones. Phthalates interfere with the synthesis of testosterone. Bisphenol A, another controversial chemical that is found in plastics, can mimic female hormones. Consumers' concerns about bisphenol A, which has been used for years to make plastics stiff, have prompted some producers and retailers to announce in recent months that they would stop using and selling it." Physorg.com Phthalates are found in nail polishes, hair sprays, perfumes, shampoos, deodorants, soft plastic toys and much more. There is no easy way to determine if your beauty or household product contains phthalates unless it clearly states "phthalate free". During pregnancy, the safer the better so if you wont put it in your mouth, don't put it on your skin. More resources: Not Too Pretty (PDF)
- Tags: animal database baby boys Birth Defects bisphenol controversial chemical endocrine environmental health network female hormones feminization feminization of males Fetal Development & Safety Hormones human hormones male fetuses natural hormones phthalate phthalate exposure Pregnancy Personal Care science director sexual differentiation substantial drop testosterone Theodore Schettler Toxins and Pregnancy urethra utero weeks of pregnancy
Prenatal Testing and Ultrasound 0Author: Mandy Robinson With advances in technology, even if there was a problem with the prenatal development of your baby, doctors are able to respond sooner. This is all made possible due to technologies such as prenatal testing and ultrasound. It is a common misconception that pregnancy testing takes place only once, at the beginning of your pregnancy. Nothing could be further from the truth - from ultrasounds to blood tests, you will be bombarded with test after test up until even the very morning of your delivery date. 1. Primary Testing Quite a lot of blood work is performed initially for various reasons including whether you are Rh negative or positive, your immunity to viruses such as rubella, and whether you have a more serious condition such as hepatitis B, or HIV. At this initial visit you will also receive a physical and internal examination to check your capability for giving birth, and if necessary, a PAP smear. 2. Ultrasound Ultrasound, unfortunately, is not merely a tool that allows the mother to see her child before it is born, or to determine the sex of the child prior to childbirth. The real purpose of an ultrasound is to detect fetal development problems in advance or to pinpoint potential delivery problems such as placenta previa. Don't worry, however, this is actually a routine procedure carried out at 18 weeks for all pregnant women. Ultrasounds can:
- Determine early the gender of the baby
- Measure the placenta
- Check embryonic fluid composition
- Ensure the umbilical cord is not causing any complications
- Ensure there is no internal bleeding