Rest and Exercise During Pregnancy
Getting Enough Sleep
If you're like many other mums-to-be, you are probably having trouble getting enough deep, uninterrupted sleep in the third trimester. This is because the increasing size of your unborn baby can make it hard to find a comfortable sleeping position. Plus, your doctor has probably recommended that you sleep on your side, which can be difficult if you've always been a back or stomach sleeper. Other issues like heartburn and constipation can interfere as well.
When You Can't Sleep: Strategies to Try
During the day:
- Cut out caffeinated drinks like fizzy drinks, coffee and tea from your diet as much as possible, especially in the afternoon/evening.
- Avoid drinking a lot of fluids or eating a full meal within a few hours of going to bed.
- Don't exercise right before you go to bed.
- Try to get into a routine of going to bed and getting up at the same time each day.
- Take short naps (30 to 60 minutes) during the day to make up for lost sleep.
- Take a yoga class or learn other techniques to help you relax after a busy day. (Discuss any new activity or fitness plan with your doctor first.)
- If worrying is keeping you awake at night, talk to other expectant mums or make a list of questions to ask your midwife or doctor on your next visit.
- Try lying on your side with your knees bent. This is likely to be the most comfortable position in the third trimester.
- Experiment with pillows to discover a comfortable sleeping position. Try placing one under your abdomen or between your legs.
- If a leg cramp wakes you up, try pressing your feet hard against the wall or standing on the leg. (Also make sure that you're getting enough calcium in your diet, which can help reduce leg cramps.)
If you really can't sleep, it's often better to get up and do something instead of tossing and turning. Read a book, listen to music, watch TV, or catch up on letters or email. Eventually, you'll probably feel tired enough to go back to bed and get some sleep.
The more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain. It will also help you to cope with labour and get back into shape after the birth. Keep up your normal daily physical activity or exercise (sport, running, yoga, dancing or even walking to the shops and back) for as long as you feel comfortable.
Exercise during pregnancy can:
- lessen discomfort, fatigue, and the aches and pains of pregnancy, including constipation and varicose veins
- increase the blood flow to your skin, giving you a healthy glow
- increase the likelihood of early recovery after delivery
- strengthen and tone the abdominal, back, thigh and gluteal muscles to improve posture
- lower the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy
- help prevent – or control – gestational diabetes
- improve your ability to sleep
- protect/strengthen your joints
- prevent excessive weight gain and prepare you to regain your pre-pregnancy body
- keep your heart, bones, and mind healthy.
Don’t exhaust yourself. You may need to slow down as your pregnancy progresses or if your doctor or midwife advises you to. As a general rule, you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise.
If you weren't active before you got pregnant, don’t suddenly take up strenuous exercise. Remember that exercise doesn't have to be energetic to be beneficial. Always check with your doctor before beginning any kind of exercise during pregnancy.
Good exercise options
- Low-impact exercises like yoga or pilates, walking, swimming and dancing.
- Aerobics and yoga classes designed specifically for pregnant women.
Exercises to avoid
- Those in which you can get hit in the abdomen.
- Those in which you can fall.
- Weight training and sit-ups (after the first trimester).
- Scuba diving.
STOP EXERCISING IMMEDIATELY ...
... and call your doctor if you experience:
- dizziness or headache
- chest pain
- abdominal pain or contractions
- calf pain or swelling
- blurred vision
- fluid leaking from the vagina or vaginal bleeding
- decreased foetal movement.
Your third trimester is a busy time. You're getting ready to welcome a new baby into your home, while continuing to try and keep yourself healthy. Overall you’ll probably be feeling great as you experience the last few months of pregnancy.
The following information is designed to answer the common questions you might have, help keep you healthy, and prepare you for the arrival of your new baby.
It's important to keep your doctor and midwife informed throughout your pregnancy, including during your third trimester. Let them know if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Pain of any kind.
- Strong cramps or uterine contractions at 20-minute intervals.
- Vaginal bleeding or leaking of amniotic fluid.
- Dizziness, fainting or shortness of breath.
- Palpitations or tachycardia (rapid beating of the heart).
- Constant nausea and vomiting.
- Difficulty walking.
- Oedema (swelling of joints).
- Decreased activity by the baby.
And always remember: there is no such thing as asking too many questions or voicing too many concerns. The goal for you and your doctor is your safe and happy pregnancy!
Nutrition During Pregnancy
Regards nutrition, your priority during pregnancy is to eat healthily to get the nutrients you and your unborn baby need. A healthy diet includes proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and plenty of water.
- Make smart choices from every food group.
- Find your balance between food and physical activity.
- Get the most nutrition out of your calories.
- Eat the recommended daily servings from each food group:
- Bread, cereals, potatoes and pasta
- Fruit and vegetables
- Milk and dairy foods
- Meat, fish, eggs, beans and alternative non-dairy protein
- Foods containing fats and foods containing sugar.