Top of the morning Mamas!
Today I’m going to suggest you take a walk on the dark side. Lately I’ve been worrying about something and that worry has translated into sleepless nights, trouble concentrating and being more than a bit snippy with my kiddos. I finally called a girlfriend the other day and told her what was going on. She already knew about the issue that was worrying me, but did not know how much it was interfering with my daily functioning. Since my friend is a life coach, she took me through this exercise which I am going to share with you today.
This exercise is exploring What’s the worst that can happen? I suggest that you do this exercise with a partner. This can be your spouse, a friend, a family member…with whomever you feel most comfortable. I say “most comfortable” because you must be able to be really transparent with your feelings with this person-no holds barred so to speak. How the exercise works is you share with your partner your greatest fear about some issue going on in your life. Then, you and your partner create a counter argument as to why your greatest fear likely won’t happen. Finally, you two will brainstorm what you could do if your greatest fear actually were to come true.
Why do an exercise like this? Primarily, because the scenarios that our minds create about situations in our lives are far more dramatic than what would actually happen. When we are afraid, our minds create all kinds of mayhem around situations and in a sense feed our fears. In this exercise, taking a hard look at these “fictitious” outcomes and with our partners refuting how they are not likely helps ease our fears.
So that you can see how it works, I am going to do an abbreviated version for you. Let’s say that the issue is you have an incompetent cervix and you are worried that you are going to lose your baby. The issue isn’t just that you are worried you are going to lose your baby. The issues are also that you really want this pregnancy and this child and the future that you see for yourself, your partner and your family. You may have already picked out names, purchased furniture and made special preparation. So losing this baby would not only mean losing the physical being, but also all the hopes and dreams associated with this little one. (Hang on, this gets better, I promise!)
Now with your partner, list all the reasons this is not likely to happen. Here’s what your list may look like:
1. I have a cerclage and my doctor said it was easily done, done properly and in perfect position
2. I am now on bedrest and although not fun, being recumbent takes the pull of gravity off my cervix relieving any potential pressure
3. I am _____weeks along and every day that I remain on bed rest is a day more mature my baby becomes.
4. My baby is moving about happily and content within me.
5. My last doctor’s exam showed that everything is okay (i.e. my cervix may have shortened, but is holding steady at___mm; the baby is growing and developing perfectly normally; I have no spotting, bleeding, cramping, etc….)
6. I have family and friends to support me
You see where this is going? These are just the first thoughts that came into my head. I am sure you’ll have more and I recommend that you really personalize the answers. Hopefully your partner will really dig with you for the goodness that is going on right now so that you can see the silver lining in this cloud of darkness.
“But what if the worst happens? What if I lose my baby?”
I totally hear you! I lost my first pregnancy so soon after realizing that I was pregnant I really didn’t have time to get too attached-yet I was still devastated. However, I became completely unglued when I lost my second pregnancy. After my first miscarriage we learned that my fibroids were making it nearly impossible for me to carry a pregnancy to term. So I had them removed and then had my daughter. I thought I was home free! The second miscarriage was a blow from left field in my mind. I had done everything right. I had had a baby. How could this happen?
With your partner, I am going to ask you to go to that dark place, the worst case scenario. I invite you to cry and really give into your emotions and LET THEM OUT!! When we are chronically upset and especially when we’re holding things in, our bodies are releasing cortisol and adrenaline and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that are keeping our bodies in “red alert mode”. This more detrimental to our health than the actual impact of the negative event! When we have the negative event, we go through the process of grieving and processing the event and then onto resolution. When we are simply in “red alert mode”, we don’t process, we don’t move through and we keep out bodies in stress. In this state, we can actually bring about that which we are most afraid of happening! So again, talk about what it would be like if the worst were to happen, you actually lost the baby. Who would you tell? Who would be available for support? What would you want to know from your doctor? Would you want to try to get pregnant again? What are your chances of having another miscarriage? What would you need to do in between pregnancies to optimize your chances?
See where this is going? You are taking action. You are actually being proactive and hence taking control of your situation. So rather than feeling like a “sitting duck” waiting for the worst to happen, you are ready. As Dr. Jennifer Gunter so eloquently stated, “Prepare for the worst, but expect the best!”
To this end, I also strongly suggest that you have a candid talk with your health care provider about your fears. Sometimes what we are thinking is so far out of line with reality, it helps to have an “expert” reign us in with the facts. Also, if your fears are founded, again, take a proactive stance and get all the information, support and resources you can to help your situation.
I know that this is not an easy or pleasant topic, but it is necessary. It’s not okay for you to be on bedrest stressed out, not sleeping and essentially worrying yourself into the worst case scenario. Please, please, please, dump your doubt! Perhaps you and another mama in our community would like to pair up and support one another?? Who knows better what you are going through than another Mama on Bedrest? What better way to strengthen your ties in our community?? And remember, if you cannot find a partner to speak with, you can take advantage of the Free 30 Minute Bedrest Breakthrough Session with me!!
Questions? Comments? If you do the exercises, please be sure to share your results in our comments section below!!
Why is it called bed rest when it’s anything but restful?
Why is it now that you are in bed-or at least reclined on the sofa for much of the day-you can’t sleep?
It’s a recurrent complaint that I hear all the time from Mamas on Bedrest: I Can’t Sleep! So let’s take a look at what’s going on during pregnancy and during pregnancy bed rest that makes sleeping so difficult.
If you recall, when you first became pregnant, all you wanted to do was sleep (and perhaps be sick, but that’s a topic for another post!). The first trimester of pregnancy is when your baby fully forms. From the moment of conception-the moment the sperm penetrates the egg-the resulting cell is rapidly dividing and growing. By the third week of pregnancy, you may not even be aware that you are pregnant, but your baby is growing and the nervous system is beginning to develop. By 5 weeks the spinal column has formed and by 6 weeks the heart has developed and will begin beating. It is this heart beat that is often first detected on ultrasound. Weeks 7-9 the limbs begin to form as do the inner organs. By 10 weeks the embryo has developed so much that it really does look like a baby. At this point we call it a fetus and by 12 weeks, your baby has most of its vital organs in rudimentary form. From here on out, the baby will grow and the organs will further develop. So as you can imagine, while your body is giving its all to develop this little being, to form the placenta and to extract nutrients from your digestive tract to nourish your growing baby, it is expending A LOT of energy. During the first trimester, a natural protective mechanism is to make mamas nauseous and tired so that they don’t eat foods that may harm/irritate the developing baby and so that mamas will rest and allow their bodies to use the energy it would normally use to move mama about to help grow and develop the baby.
But in the second trimester, the baby is just growing. The nausea has typically stopped and most of the vital organs have formed and are now just growing and becoming more specified. Mamas typically have more energy during the second trimester and aren’t as sleepy. If during this period you are placed on bed rest, you are in your most “energized” portion of your pregnancy and put to bed. While you do require more rest, if you are in bed all day, able to snooze at random, you can imagine your sleep patterns may become a bit disorganized. To help with this, as much as possible, try to set up a regular schedule and stick to it. Awaken at the same time each morning. Have a routine of things to do throughout the day. If you do feel you need a nap, schedule that in. And have a set time to go to sleep. Having a regular schedule will help your body know when to sleep and when to be awake. It’s not a perfect solution but it has helped many mamas.
By the third trimester, you and your baby are getting bigger and the issue with sleep becomes getting comfortable. With the ever enlarging belly, there is more stress on your lower back, your hips, neck and shoulders and you may be sore. When you are on bed rest, make sure to support your body with pillows to relieve pressure on your shoulders, spine and hips. A Body pillow is a MUST not only for mamas on bed rest, but for pregnant mamas in general. And if you are lucky enough to have a partner who is willing to rub your feet or back, take advantage! Also, this is a great time to have a prenatal massage. Check and see if there is a certified prenatal massage therapist in your area that does home visits. (These make great shower gifts!!!!)
Finally, most mamas on bedrest are so worried about their pregnancies and their babies they often have a hard time relaxing so that they can fall asleep. In order for us to have a restful night’s sleep, we have to shut off our “vigilence centers”. What is your vigilence center you ask? It is the part of your brain that goes non-stop with chatter like,
“Hmm, I haven’t felt the baby move in the last 5 minutes. I wonder if everything is okay? Maybe I should roll over? No, my doctor said to lay on my side. But was it my left side or my right side? I’ll have to ask tomorrow at my appointment. Oh God, I’m having a non-stress test. I wonder what that is? Will it hurt? Will it hurt the baby? I’m pretty stressed thinking about it!….”
and on and on and on! It’s a wonder any of us get any sleep! If this is you, you will need a way to quiet your vigilence center so that you can calm down and get restful, restorative sleep. Many mamas have used meditation tapes/MP3’s with great success. I did a very brief google search and there are several available for free on youtube. There are also meditations for retail on Amazon.com and through such organizations as Hypnobirthing. Any of these that appeal to you are fine. I don’t recommend any one over another. It’s really whatever soothes you and allows you to “turn off your thoughts” and get some rest.
The good thing about bed rest is that it’s not forever! It really does end and once it does, you’ll have an even better reason not to sleep-you’ll be busy caring for your adorable little baby! Hang in there mamas! I know its hard but you can do it. Check out some of the suggested resources and let us know what worked best for you in our comments section below.
Today’s blog post was submitted by Ms. Lauren Rose, a freelance writer for Socialmonster. While the piece is applicable to any pregnant mama, because Mamas on Bedrest spend so much time in bed, trying to get comfortable enough to actually rest, I thought this piece had some great tips and reminders. Enjoy.
We can’t think of another time in a woman’s life when a good night’s rest is as important as during pregnancy. Poor sleep can exacerbate the common aches and pains of pregnancy as well as the emotional roller coaster that comes with growing another human being. Each trimester comes with distinct types of sleep disturbances for the women. And when moms-to-be are on bed rest, the difficulties can be frustrating and even detrimental to health. The good news is, many issues can be alleviated with some easy adjustments.
The excess fluid in your body will send you hurrying to the bathroom numerous times throughout the night. You may also find it difficult to get comfortable. The first trimester also brings high levels of the hormone progesterone, which is a sleep-inducing hormone. More than 50 percent of pregnant women take a nap during their workweek, and 60 percent take naps on the weekend, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Progesterone can cause drowsiness during the day and insomnia at night.
During pregnancy, your breasts will become tender, which makes finding a comfortable sleeping position difficult. If you like to sleep on your stomach, you’ll quickly experience discomfort. One of the best things you can do is to begin sleeping on your left side. Sleeping in this position increases the flow of blood to the uterus, which delivers more nutrients to the baby. This position also helps the body eliminate both fluids and waste. As your uterus continues to enlarge, it presses on your bladder. One way to combat this is to drink the majority of fluids during the day and cut back in the late afternoon.
Throughout the second trimester, a good night’s sleep is more likely and you’ll notice an increase in energy. This is the time to prepare for the little one. If you’re restricted to bed rest, recruit friends and family members to help get the nursery ready and make the birth plan. Because hormone levels are not rising as quickly and morning sickness has most likely passed, you will sleep better than you have in weeks. Try recommending sleeping habits at this point, before the third-trimester sleeping difficulties.
● Switch to sleeping on your left side
● Alleviate back pain with a memory foam mattress
● Create a regular sleep schedule
● Have a relaxing routine at bedtime
● Exercise early in the day (Mamas on Bedrest can stretch and check out some of our modified exercises on our Youtube channel!)
During the third trimester, women wake up more frequently throughout the night, which decreases their periods of deep sleep. The baby grows quickly during the third trimester, putting pressure on the bladder. It’s OK to cut back on fluid intake during the late afternoon to evening to decrease bathroom visits throughout the night. You’ll need to completely empty your bladder each time you urinate by leaning forward as you urinate.
The size of your uterus makes lying down comfortably difficult, which can be hard when spending most of your time in bed. The uterus has grown from its original 70 g with a cavity space of approximate 1 L to more than 1000 g with a cavity space of nearly 20 L, emedicine.com reports, and this creates back pain. Try to sleep with pillows between your knees and behind her back while lying on your left side. As your stomach continues to grow, you’ll need to increase your comfort by propping yourself up.
Sleep is such an important element in the health and well being of a pregnant woman, that a mama must do all that she can to ensure restful restorative sleep. Hopefully these tips from Ms. Rose will be helpful to some of you. Thanks again to Lauren Rose for this submission.