sleep

Sleep during Pregnancy

As I drove to work this morning I listened to a podcast by Katy Bowman, a biomechanist, about SLEEP.

If you've never heard of Katy, she is a proponent of nutritional movement and varying our movement in our daily activity for optimal physical health. Our beliefs align on so many matters, which is why I enjoy listening to her podcasts.

This morning was no exception.

The style of this particular episode was answering questions from listeners and the first listener was an expecting mom.

Thus, the reason why I'm sharing my thoughts to all you lovely ladies.

To paraphrase this moms question,

"should I sleep on my left side?"

She is generally a very mobile sleeper, but had heard that during pregnancy she should sleep on her left side. She however, feels that this is causing one side of her body to be "overworked" and the other side to be "underworked."

To be honest, I didn't completely agree with Katy's answer, which was essentially, "I don't know."

But she did have some good insight, especially since she did some digging into the research to see if there was any evidence to support this position while sleeping during pregnancy.

This is what she found....NOTHING!

There is no research to back up the very commonly prescribed, sleep on your left side during pregnancy.

However, there is evidence to show that if a mom lays on her back for long periods of time it can slow down blood flow to the fetus. This is because of the weight of the fetus within the uterus pressing back onto our large blood vessels in our gut that shunt blood back to our heart.

The cool thing is our bodies will tell us by becoming light headed, nauseous or uncomfortable, or the baby will slow her movements.

Then typically all we have to do is roll to our left side, because the vessels are predominately on the right side of our spine. Or sit up.

How does this relate to sleeping then?

Hopefully for most of us we are sleeping for at least 7 hours. Of course during pregnancy this may be altered because of discomfort, our bladder, hunger, or just being restless.

But if we are sleeping for longer than 1 hour stretches, this is a long time for our body to be in one position, right?

So the theory is, if you start on your left side during pregnancy, you are reducing the compression on your vessels.

Then through the night if you find yourself in other positions, it's okay.

Remember, your body will let you know when to move.

I am a mobile sleeper and am constantly in different positions, there was no exception during my pregnancy. But I didn't stay on my left side the whole time.

I respected and listened to my body.

The other thing to consider is if you are laying on your side to reduce pressure on your vessels, then wouldn't laying on an incline also provide this relief?

YES!

So if you are at all worried about having to always be on your side, but it's getting super uncomfortable, there are ways around it.

This can be said for any sleeping position, if it's uncomfortable, maybe there are ways around it or modifications you can do, or activities you can do prior to bed to provide relief.

The big take away is to honor your body and listen to what it is telling you. Take the time to vary your movement and stretch through out the day to reduce restlessness and improve your body awareness over all.

Happy Sleeping!

Top 5 Tips to Improve Energy During Pregnancy

During this pregnancy I have been more tired and less motivated to participate in my life.

But as a mom of  3 year old, a wife who is helping my husband finalize renovations on our house and someone who loves life, this is not an option.

So I have dug down deeper than usual to find the energy.

Here are my TOP 5 TIPS TO IMPROVE ENERGY DURING PREGNANCY

  1. EXERCISE

Exercise has so many awesome benefits, one being improved energy levels. During pregnancy, our blood volume increases, which means our heart works harder to pump and our red blood cells may not keep up with the nutritional demand our body needs.

Exercise improves our body's ability to create more red blood cells to keep up with the growing demand on our body. Thus, the more balanced our red blood cell count and blood volume is the easier it is for our body to stay nourished.

Exercise also, improves our muscular, respiratory, and cardiovascular endurance. If you're muscles feel sluggish and lazy, it may be your endurance is lacking. So stepping out for a 30 minute brisk walk 5-7 times a week will get your muscles revved up to work for efficiently for you the rest of your day.

Lastly, exercise works your respiratory diaphragm. Meaning, when you work out your "breathing" muscle you get more oxygen to your body. Plus, you won't feel so winded once baby starts to take up more space.

2. NAP

I find that by the mid afternoon I start to fade. Since my daughter no longer takes a nap (at home) I can't rely on a break to rest.

So lately, if she is unable to occupy herself for 10-20 minutes I will lie down on the couch with her and put on one of her fave TV shows.

This gives me the opportunity to close my eyes when I have her wrapped in my arms, so I know she isn't in an unsafe situation.

So I'm giving you permission to give yourself a break with your older children and turn on the TV.

3. EAT A WELL BALANCED DIET

Even though our body does not require extra calories until the third trimester, we still need to be aware of what we eat.

I always love the idea of eating the RAINBOW!

By focusing on variety of fruits and veggies in all sorts of colors you know you are getting a wide variety of nutrients.

Then based on your choice of diet, meat, vegetarian, vegan, etc, make sure you research the does and don't of certain foods. For example, there are certain fish that are safe to eat and are recommended during pregnancy being of the fatty acid benefits.

Sometimes nausea and cravings can make a balanced diet really challenging, so work with a professional to make sure you are staying on target.

4. HYDRATE

Our bodies are make up of 75% water. This increases during pregnancy.  So if our body doesn't have enough H2O to perform the necessary tasks to be active then our body will start to shut down.

Our body will send our signs, like fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps, to tell us something is up.

Paying attention to these signs and figuring out what component of healthy living is missing may save you from more discomfort in the future.

5. MAKE SURE YOUR VITAMIN AND MINERAL LEVELS OF A-OK

Our body runs on chemical processes that require certain amounts of vitamins and minerals. When these levels are unbalanced our body may not be able to perform at peak.

For example, IRON, is a very common mineral to be deficient in during pregnancy...case in point...ME.

But iron is very important for transporting oxygen through the body (hemoglobin) which causes fatigue and normal processes like brain function. During pregnancy iron deficiency anemia can cause the baby to come to early or be smaller than normal.

Knowing your base levels prior to conceiving or very early on in pregnancy will help you boost your stores of all the necessary Vitamins and Minerals.

If diet isn't enough chat with your provider or meet with a licensed dietician about supplements.

Staying on top of these areas will really help our body as it changes with the growing demands of baby.

Don't get discouraged if you are already in your third trimester, you can start any time to make small changes that can last a life time.

If you're feeling overwhelmed and want some help getting started with a safe and efficient exercise program, or want to learn how to transition your exercise program into your pregnancy, I can help. Sign up here for you complimentary consultation.

LISTEN, RESPECT AND HONOR WHAT YOUR BODY IS TELLING YOU!!!

Survive Camping While Pregnant

Living so close to the White Mountains of New Hampshire is such a joy.

My husband and I loved getting up to hike and bike before our daughter was born and now that our house renovations (that we are doing ourselves) are winding down our weekends are opening up to get back up there to share with our daughter.

We ventured up to the Whites this past weekend to camp with my brother and family and my parents.

The weekend started off raining, so luckily my parents were able to set up our tent prior to arriving, but I wanted to go over to tips on how to survive camping (and I mean tenting) for a weekend while pregnant.

We knew the nights were going to be on the cool end, so we needed to bring extra blankets and decided the most comfortable way to go would to bring our air mattress.  I don't know if I would do this again.

Here's why...

Air mattresses deflate and move whenever the other person (or in my case people, yes our daughter slept between us) shift. So I a nice firm mattress in the beginning of the night may not be so by the morning.

I found that every time I needed to shift positions I had a hard time getting enough leverage to rotate without disturbing my daughter.

Plus my hips were sore by the morning even with the support of a pillow between my legs.

Tip #1

Make sure the surface that you are sleeping on is comfortable.

There is nothing worse that sleeping outside while pregnant if you are waking up in the morning super stiff or in pain and can't enjoy the activities planned for that day.

So try out an air mattress at home. If you are early enough in pregnancy and a back sleeper, great. You may not have this issue, but for those who need to sleep on your side or are a side sleeper, make sure you have extra pillows to support you or see how your hips do with the stiff or deflated mattress.

If you are using a sleeping pad instead, again, try it out at home first. Especially if you have to sleep on your side. Our hips expand during pregnancy and the pad may not be enough cushion to reduce the pressure point on them.  You also have the option of building up a ramp to sleep on your back, if you have room in the car to bring extra blankets and pillows. So try this out at home as well.

No matter the surface you are sleeping on it is wise to do a wake up stretching routine.

Tip #2

Stretch in the morning.

When we camp, we go on hikes or swim or are extra active.

Then we tend to stay up later and may not get the greatest night sleep.

Thus, morning stiffness can be more of a problem, regardless of your sleeping environment.

So when that sun wakes you up, crawl out of the tent (or stay in the tent) and stretch your body.

 

Make sure you target multiple areas of the body....hips, side trunk, chest.

Think standing up, reaching for the sky with both hands then bending to the one side.

By warming up your muscles with gentle stretches your setting yourself up to enjoy the other activities lined up for the day.

I don't think I can say this enough......drink water!

Tip #3

Make sure you have another potable water.

Water is the best way to stay hydrated, which is even  more important while pregnant.

If your camp sight does not have potable water, you need to bring enough for your whole stay or having an appropriate method of sanitizing the water. This could be boiling the water or filtering it, the CDC has more information on appropriate water sanitizing while camping.

Other than water, what you eat will also be a factor while you camp.

If the mornings are cool, water water with a lemon is a great way to start the day.

Tip #4

Make sure you plan out your meals so you know you're getting in enough vital vitamins, minerals, calories and proteins.

Of course when you are tenting you don't have all the luxuries of a kitchen, so be reasonable with the meals you pick.

Oatmeal with added goodies like almond butter, flax seeds, cinnamon and dried fruit can be an excellent breakfast.

You can also prepare some food prior to leaving the house. This can help cut down on the dirty dishes. Just make sure you keep the perishable foods cold!

Then once you've figured out your meals you can add in snacks. Easy fruits like apples and bananas are easy to pack and carry around with you. Nuts, roasted chickpeas, sugar snap peas, dried fruit, sandwich crackers are all great snacks to munch on.

And lastly, once all the logistics are figured out....

Tip #5

Have FUN!

Not everything is going to go to plan and while camping you have to have a degree of "let it go" attitude.

Our daughter stayed up much later than we would usually allow her to. But we knew she would be okay and she could take a nap the next day (if she really needed it).

If you want to learn more about safe stretches and a morning routine to get ready for the day while you are pregnant reach out to learn more about my solutions!

So if you are near mountains or pitch a tent in the backyard have fun camping even while pregnant!