Guest Author - Maryn Leister
Sleeping and eating are both big deals in a pregnant woman's life.
The body needs food, and rest in great quantities so that it can grow a healthy baby and placenta. But although sleeping and eating are vital, they can also be a real challenge to a nauseous, unable-to-sleep woman who may even have heartburn (what fun!) or indigestion.
Pretty ironic, if you think about it. Luckily, there are things you can try if you are experiencing any sleeping or eating uncomfortableness, and all come without a prescription. Nausea and insomnia be gone!
Problems getting to sleep and even staying asleep afflict pregnant women everywhere, especially as pregnancy advances. Getting to sleep requires the body and mind to be relaxed. Epsom salt baths (for at least 20 minutes) are wonderful for getting rid of pregnancy soreness, and with a few drops of lavender essential oil thrown in, can be quite a treat. Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate, which is a deep muscle relaxer. A similar effect can be felt from taking calcium magnesium supplements right before bed. To relax the mind, try meditation and deep breathing. And don't forget the pillows! Use a body pillow for support or as many regular pillows as necessary to take the pressure off.
Another common reason for not being able to get to sleep or for sporadic wakings in the middle of night is the pregnant body's request for food! The funny thing is, women often don't realize that they are waking up because the blood sugar is low. You might not necessarily feel hungry, but it is often the case that eating some protein will send you right back to sleep immediately. Protein before bed can also curb nausea, another plus.
Speaking of nausea......the exact cause of pregnancy nausea (especially early nausea) can differ from person to person, but generally the problem is an excess of hormones (not a bad thing) or low blood sugar.
How do you know which category you fall into?
If eating makes you feel better, even for only 20 minutes, then your problem may be more blood-sugar related. In any case, eating small amounts very often is the best defense. Small amounts of protein are even better and can get you to the point where you can eventually eat more. It's a vicious cycle- nausea followed by not eating tends to produce more nausea, so a conscious effort to eat (even though it sounds so gross!) is worth it.
Last but not least is heartburn.
Some women deal with this their entire pregnancies, and some only at the tail end (and some not at all, luckily). Heartburn is largely due to the relaxing of the little “gate” that separates the stomach from the esophagus. (This “relaxing” happens elsewhere in the body before birth, like in the pelvis, and it. otherwise is an important part of getting the body ready to birth a baby).
Unfortunately , it is none too pleasant to have a relaxed esophagus, and the best bet is really prevention. Especially if you are prone, no greasy foods. And like nausea prevention, eating small, frequent meals is best so that your body is never shocked by food! Staying upright after eating is preferable, too.
What if prevention has come too late? Consider taking digestive enzymes, which will help digest food and also papaya tablets (enzymes as well) that will help neutralize all the acidity. A liquid calcium-magnesium supplement can help by coating the stomach, as can eating raw almonds or carrot sticks after a meal.
Whatever you do, stay away from traditional antacids (like Tums, etc.) while pregnant. Used in excess, these candy-like things (although helpful) can be a risk to the health of your placenta, which also means a huge risk to your baby.