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.
Hello Mamas and Happy Valentine’s Day!
While going through the list of topics about which I have to write, none of them appealed to me. While I love perinatal health and researching and chatting about all things pregnancy, lately I feel that a lot of the research and news briefs coming out are negative-well, perhaps not negative, but certainly downers. Today is Valentines’ Day and while I don’t know what the weather is like in your area (spoke with my parents in Boston and they are under almost 2 feet of snow!), it’s a gorgeous, bright sunny day outside my window. I just couldn’t bring myself to write about health care disparities, the conflict/debate over which is better: OB care or midwife care, maternal and infant mortality. These are all very important subjects. But today, let’s just have a bit of love and light.
Since many of you are homebound, I was thinking of ways to spruce up your surroundings. I recently attended a women’s meditiation circle and we all brought spa items to share. Naya, the facilitator showed us how to make our own bath salts. I brought a chocolate scrub. Someone else brought some essential oils….That room smelled so wonderful by the time we left! So I am going to share some of my favorite spa/pampering items for you to create for yourselves. I like to use regular kitchen/food items as I have very sensitive skin and I find I am less likely to react to food items than some essential oils. Do be careful, though as some herbs can stimulate reactions. If you are not sure, check with an herbalist before adding. My good friend Ginger Webb at Texas Medicinals is my go to gal as is Freya Morani, Rootmama.
Scrubs are an easy thing to make. I start wtih regular old epsom salts. You can use sea salt as well, and course sea salt will provide a really good exfoliant. But I find that too much salt is harsh on my skin. Try it out and see what you like. Since I do have sensitive skin, I frequently cut the salt in my scrubs with sugar. I like fine brown sugar a lot, but again, depending on what I am going for, I’ll use a fine (NOT powdered) white sugar. Then I’ll add about a cup of Grapeseed oil. That is my base. Then I add in whatever I like for fragrance. Here is a great recipe for a chocolate scrub my friend shared with me.
Epsom or Sea Salt (about 2 cups)
Fine granulated sugar (about 1 cup)
1 Cup Grapeseed oil
1/2 cup Cocoa
1 teaspoon-1 Tablespoon Vanilla or Mint
Mix it all together in a bowl. You can make it more coarse by adding more salt/sugar or more creamy/soft by adding more grapeseed oil. You can also adjust the fragrance by adding more or less vanilla or mint.
Note: The scrubs can also be used as bath salts. I didn’t want to mention that here because I know most of you are banned from baths for the time being. Just an FYI for later on!
When I went to the meditation circle, Naya made this Rosemary and lemon scrub/bath salt. While I liked the smell, I have to say I’m not wild about things floating in my bath water! But if you are interested, start with about 2 cups salt, then add rosemary leaves and lemon oil to your preference.
Sensitive Skin Milk Bath
I break out at the drop of a hat! So when I’ve rubbed up against something and I’m ready to rip my skin off scratching, I’ll try this bath mixture,
Oatmeal (chop it up in a blender to make it nice and fine) about 1 cup
Powdered Milk – about 1/2 cup
Honey-about 1/4 cup
Now I take this ooey gooey mixture and stick it in an old knee high (remember I hate stuff floating in my bath water!!) Then just drop it in the water while the bath is filling and soak. The oatmeal relieves itches and the milk and honey soothe the skin. You’ll come out feeling soft and smelling really sweet!
My college roommate and I used to make potpourri in our dorm to kill the funky odor that persisted. We took an electric hot pot and filled it with water and plugged it in. Then we simply added whatever; orange rinds, vanilla sticks, cinnamon sticks-every thing is fair game! One that I really like is hibiscus flowers with lavender flowers. They give off the most lovely fragrance! Again you can add mint, chamomile tea…Let you mind flow! This would be a great way to spruce up your surrounding this Valentine’s Day!
These are simple, fun and really pleasant ways to pamper yourself and your surroundings. I know many of you can’t take a bath, but perhaps you can sweet talk your sweetie into rubbing your feet and legs and hands with some homemade scrub? Maybe soak your feet in the sensitive skin bath? (Oh, your feet will be sooo soft!!)
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, Great Friday and a pleasant weekend!
Do you have a recipe for a homemade spa remedy? Please share it with us in the comments section below!
It’s video Wednesday! After receiving yet another e-mail asking about how to relieve back pain while on bed rest, I thought that it is time to do a review of how best to support your back while on bed rest. Be sure to check out our other helpful videos on our YouTube Channel, and if you have questions, suggestions or comments, please share them in the comments section below.