Whether you have a full bladder, leg cramps or just that 'beached whale' feeling whenever you lie down, naturopath Natasha Berman has some all-natural advice to help you combat those oh-so-pregnant symptoms and get a good night’s sleep.
💤 The beached whale: backache and leg cramps 💤
Cramps, pains, twitches, spasms and general discomfort. Sorry to be blunt, but in the late stages of pregnancy the sheer size of you makes it difficult to sleep.
By taking care of your back during the day, you’ll find it easier to be comfortable at night. Yoga and stretching are great for relieving muscle spasms. Always keep your lower back supported and try not to stand for long periods or cross your legs when sitting. You might like to sleep with a pillow supporting your stomach and another between your knees.
Pregnancy massage from a professional therapist will relieve muscle tension, as will warm baths with Epsom Salts and lavender essential oil.
Nutrition is also important, so take adequate calcium and magnesium and increase your protein consumption.
In the second and third trimester your baby’s little skeleton is growing at a great rate of knots using up extra calcium and magnesium. Who misses out? Mum does, hence leg cramps are a common third trimester complaint. Pressure from the enlarged uterus on the nerves supporting the legs and slower circulation may also be partly to blame.
Replenish with magnesium supplementation, but be sure it is an appropriate form (not magnesium oxide).
Eat lots of dark green vegetables, grains and seeds which contain B-complex vitamins, potassium and vitamin E. Reduce phosphorus in your diet (less meat, dairy and no soft drinks) as this seeps calcium and magnesium from the bone.
💤 The full bladder 💤
Multiple midnight trips to the loo are a common inconvenience in pregnancy.
Other than making sure your bladder is healthy (no infections) and toned, there isn’t a lot that can be done as the problem is purely mechanical; the growing uterus puts pressure on the bladder, and this doesn’t let up until after birth.
Hydration is essential for you and your baby, so try to drink more during the day, and less in the evening.
By adding electrolytes to your water, you’ll ensure you’re maintaining optimal cellular hydration. Tissue-strengthening herbs such as oatstraw and rosehip teas may also help.
💤 The stressed sleeper 💤
Stress is the enemy of sleep and it is especially true in pregnancy. When you’re stressed the hormones adrenaline and cortisol play havoc with your ability to get to sleep and stay asleep. Using appropriate herbal adrenal support remedies, such as withania, and taking adequate levels of B vitamins will help reduce stress levels and induce calmness.
Try various relaxation techniques before bed. Turn off electronic devices and take a bath. Beg a massage from your partner and try meditation for a more peaceful state of mind.
💤 The racing mind 💤
Bach Flower Remedies are perfect for that early stage of pregnancy when your mind is working overtime. It has white chestnut for unwanted persistent thoughts, aspen for anxieties, walnut for major life changes, and vervain for excessive mental energy.
Qbaby Sleepytime Drops are also an easy and pleasant tasting remedy, safe and effective even in early pregnancy.
💤 The insomniac 💤
Tart cherry juice is a natural source of melatonin (the sleep hormone) and taken an hour before bedtime it can help restore deep sleep. Tru2U Tart Cherry Juice is safe and effective during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It can take a little while to kick in (10 days or so), but I have seen excellent results. Not all cherry juice will do the trick. Only Montmorency cherries have the high levels of melatonin.
Natasha Berman is a naturopath and medical herbalist and managing director for Qbaby, a natural health dispensary in Auckland’s Titirangi. She is a mother of two and passionate about children’s health and wellbeing.
This article is also available on OhBaby!