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February 2021

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How to Sleep Comfortably During Pregnancy

By PregnancyNo Comments

It can be challenging to find a comfortable sleeping position during pregnancy. Should you sleep on your stomach, back or side? We round up several tips to make sleeping easier when you are pregnant.

Pregnancy can be tiring. To complicate things further, almost 80% of pregnant women have trouble sleeping, and 15% of women complaining of restless leg syndrome in the third trimester. Hormonal changes, cravings, nausea, and other pregnancy symptoms can also make it harder to sleep comfortably at night, especially in the third trimester when your bump is the heaviest.

Although most women complain of fatigue, they also worry whether certain sleeping positions might affect the health of their unborn baby. In this article, we look at some of the best sleeping positions to try, tweaks that you can make to your bedtime habits to get better sleep, and sleeping aids that are safe to use for expecting mothers.

Sleep On Your Left Side

Sleep Pregnancy

Pregnant women can actually sleep in any position they choose to during the first trimester. However, sleeping on your stomach and back isn’t the best choice in the long run. If you’re used to sleeping on your stomach, that’s fine – until your growing baby bump makes it impossible to continue sleeping that way. As for sleeping on your back, experts generally do not recommend this sleeping position because this rests the whole weight of your growing body on the back, intestines, and the vena cava, which is the main vein that transports blood from your lower body back to your heart. Sleeping on your back restricts the body’s circulation, and may affect the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your baby. Especially in the second and third trimester, sleeping on your back can lead to backaches, low blood pressure, and even hemorrhoids.

So what is the best sleeping position? Sleeping on your side (on the left, preferably) is the most ideal position for you and your growing baby, as this position allows maximum blood flow to the uterus and puts less pressure on the surrounding organs. This means the kidney is able to process waste fluids more easily, resulting in reduced swelling on the hands and feet. Sleeping on your side has also been proven to help with backaches.

Use Support Pillows

Support Pillows

If you have back pain, try sleeping with your knees bent with one or two support pillows tucked in between your knees. Bent knees helps stabilize you while you are sleeping, making you less likely to roll over onto your back. The pillows provide extra cushion that helps keep your back straight and reduce pressure on your spine and hips. You can use body pillows specifically made for pregnancy sleeping, otherwise normal pillows is also fine.

Avoid Eating Trigger Foods

Heartburn is one of the side effects of pregnancy that can keep expecting mothers up at night. Your digestive system is slower than normal due to hormonal changes, and your expanding uterus can compress the stomach and push stomach acids upwards, causing heartburn. Try to have smaller meals near bedtime while staying away from spicy food and heavy late-night meals.

Elevate the Head of Your Bed

If you are still experiencing heartburn, propping your head up on pillows can provide some relief. If that still doesn’t work, try sleeping in a semi-upright position in a recliner instead of the bed.

Get Regular Exercise

Exercise Pregnant Woman

Regular exercise can improve your quality of sleep tremendously. Just 10 minutes of low-impact, aerobic exercise such as jogging or cycling will do the trick. In the long run, exercise can strengthen your back and prevent the nagging back pain that many expecting mothers experience.

Stretch Daily

Stretching Pregnant Woman

Cramping is an issue many pregnant mothers face. The exact reason is unknown, but pressure from your growing uterus and redistribution of calcium is thought to be the reason. To avoid being awoken by painful leg cramps in the middle of the night, drink lots of water beforehand as dehydration can increase cramps. Incorporating a daily stretching routine and stretching your calves before bedtime also helps in preventing cramps.

Empty Your Bladder Before Going to Bed


In the first trimester, a pregnant women’s blood volume increases, and this puts pressure on the kidneys as the organ needs to process more fluids. As your baby bump grows, the uterus will start to move down through the pelvis and press down on the kidneys. You may feel the urge to take bathroom breaks all the time, especially in the middle of the night. To avoid this, experts recommend going to the bathroom just right before sleeping.

Safe Sleeping Aids for Pregnancy

Sleeping Aids

Sometimes vitamin deficiencies can be the reason behind pregnancy discomforts. Low levels of iron and folic acid can trigger restless leg syndrome, hence supplementing with folic acid and iron can help relieve the symptoms. If you experience heartburn regularly, taking over-the-counter antacids may help. In any case, you should consult your doctor before taking supplements during pregnancy.

Pregnancy can be stressful. While you may have a lot of things to worry about, your sleeping position shouldn’t be one of them! Sleep guidelines notwithstanding, you should always listen and follow the cues from your body. If you wake up in the middle of the night and find yourself sleeping on your back, fret not – just flip back over to your side and continue sleeping. It is exceedingly rare for people to sleep in one position throughout the night, and there is no evidence that accidentally sleeping on your back will cause lasting harm to the baby. Just try not to sleep on your back for prolonged periods of time.

Best Pregnancy Stretches to Relieve Aches

By Mom's LifestyleNo Comments

These are the safe and effective pain-relieving stretches that you can do at home, at any time of the day.

Stretching is very beneficial for pregnant women, as it helps you to feel relaxed and relieves pregnancy discomfort.

During pregnancy, your muscles will become more relaxed due to the hormone ‘relaxin’ released by the ovary and placenta. Relaxin levels go up during pregnancy, and this hormone helps relax the cervix and ligaments in preparation for labour. For this reason, you may feel more flexible during your workouts. However you should be careful of over-stretching and causing injury, especially in activities such as yoga. Tip: stretch less than= what you did before getting pregnant. Now is not the time to push your limits!

While most prenatal stretches are safe for pregnant women, you should also be aware of certain stretches to avoid as your baby bump grows bigger. For instance, abdominal muscles do not need to be stretched as your baby will be doing that for you.

What Stretches Should I Avoid?
Avoid the following stretches in the late stages of your pregnancy (especially in the second and third trimester):

• Stretches that involve lying on your stomach.
• Stretches that require lying on your back for prolonged periods of time. This position decreases blood flow to your uterus and can result in low blood pressure.
• Stretches that put pressure on your belly. This is because your abdominal muscles will start to stretch and weaken as your uterus expands.
• Stretches that involve twisting of the body – any form of twisting puts extra strain on the belly and may restrict blood flow to the uterus.

Which Stretches Are Safe For Pregnancy?
The stretches listed below provide gentle stretching to the common muscles affected by pregnancy – namely the lower back, calves, and hips, to reduce muscle tension.

Seated Piriformis Stretch

seated stretch

Pregnant women suffering from lower back tightness and sciatic pain will benefit from this pose. This stretch works on the piriformis muscle, which is a small muscle located deep in the buttocks that can cause pain in the back and leg when it gets tight.

To start off, sit on a chair with your feet placed flat on the ground. If your left side is in pain, cross your left ankle on your right knee. Keeping your back straight, slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in your lower back and buttocks. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat the stretch again.

Hip Flexor Stretch

If you are experiencing tight hip flexors, this is the stretch for you. Hip flexors are the muscles that run along the front of your hip. During pregnancy, the hip flexors can become tight due to a change in position of the pelvis.

Start by kneeling with both knees on the floor or a yoga mat. Step one foot forward to make a 90-degree angle with your hips and front knee. Lean forward and put more weight on your front leg until you feel a stretch down the front of your hip and leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat the stretch for the other side.

Chair Stretch

chair stretch

This stretch is great for stretching the spine, lower back, hamstrings and calves. Tight hamstrings can cause lower back pain and sciatic pain.

Stand behind a chair with feet slightly wider apart than your hips. Slowly lean forward with your hands on the top of the chair. Keep your back flat and your arms straight. Continue leaning forward until you feel a stretch in the lower back. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat as necessary.

Standing Calf Stretch

calves stretch

Calf muscles tend to cramp easily during pregnancy due to the redistribution of calcium to the baby. Frequent stretching may help to stretch the calf muscles to prevent leg and foot cramps.

Face a wall and place one foot 2 feet away from the wall. The other foot should be close to the wall. Place your hands on the wall and keep your shoulders and hip square. Once in position, bend your left knee forward until you feel a stretch in your right calf. Your right heel should be placed firm and flat on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat the stretch for the other side.

You should aim to hold each stretch to the point of mild tension, as this will be the limit of the muscle’s flexibility. Remember to not bounce – you may injure yourself by overstretching the muscles. Stretches should always be done after warm-ups and at the end of workouts.

Recent studies show that women who include stretching into their pregnancy workouts have reported feeling less pain during labour. Hence, by doing these stretches everyday you can help lessen the discomfort you feel and enjoy your pregnancy to its fullest.

Get Pregnant Faster: Dos and Don’ts

By PregnancyNo Comments

If you have been working on getting that bun in the oven, these tips might just help you get pregnant faster.

Whether you have been trying to conceive for some time, or you’ve just decided you can’t wait to be new parents, it always helps to put some planning behind your baby-making. Here are the dos and don’ts of increasing your chances of getting pregnant.

Do Stop Using Birth Control Early
birth control singapore
If you have been using birth control previously, get off it a few months before you start trying for a baby. A regular menstrual cycle is crucial for conceiving, and you might need to go through a few cycles before your body starts ovulating regularly again. Generally speaking, three months is ideal if you were previously on the pill or patch. If you had the birth control shot (hormonal injection to prevent unplanned pregnancies), then you might be looking at a minimum of nine months or longer.

Do Track Your Menstrual Cycle

Most fertility advice says the best time to conceive falls on the ovulation day, however in practice 12 hours after ovulation gives the best chance of getting pregnant. It helps to keep track of your menstrual cycles too, so you know exactly which day you will ovulate. No matter how often you are intimate with your partner, if you miss the fertile days of your cycle where your eggs are ready, you may find it harder to conceive. This is because sperm can survive in the uterus for two or three days, but your eggs only last for 12 to 24 hours after being released.

Do Plan Ahead
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine beliefs, the best age to conceive is 25 to 29 years old for women, and 27 to 35 years old for men. At this age, men and women are generally more stable physically and emotionally, not to mention financially! Research has shown that early and late pregnancies (earlier than 20 or after 35) tend to have a higher mortality rate and increased risk of birth defects.

Do Keep A Healthy Weight and Eat Right
Research shows keeping a healthy weight plays a huge role in fertility, as being overweight or obese actually decreases fertility in men and women alike.

Diet-wise, you should add more antioxidants, leafy greens, and protein to your diet. For men especially, antioxidants protect the sperm from free radical damage. Women should consume more folic acid as this nutrient is essential for a healthy pregnancy. Folate supplementation has been shown to increase fertility, enhance fertility treatment results and lessen the risk of the baby being born with neural tube defects.

Don’t Smoke
Female fertility is complex and could stem from various reasons, but male fertility is surprisingly easy to resolve by leading a healthy lifestyle. Did you know smoking causes a decline in sperm count, reduces sperm motility (the sperm’s ability to swim), and abnormal sperm shape as well? When a man quits smoking, he will be able to see improvement in his sperm count in just 3 months.

Not only does smoking affects a man’s fertility, but it may also affect their partner’s fertility. Women who are exposed to secondhand smoke have lower IVF success rates and a higher risk of losing the pregnancy.

Don’t Take Long Hot Baths or Soak in Hot Tubs
Sperm is damaged by high temperatures, and this is one of the reasons why the male reproductive organs are outside of the body – the scrotums need to be kept cool and lower than our normal body temperatures (36.5 °C)

Avoid soaking in hot tubs or taking long hot baths as these activities can raise the scrotum’s temperature. Prolonged sitting is bad for a sperm count as well, most likely due to increased heat without any breathing space.

Don’t Stress It/
Severe stress can decrease fertility by causing erratic hormones levels, reducing cervical mucus, and even throwing you off your regular period! While it is debatable whether mild or moderate levels of stress can affect fertility, prolonged and acute stress often pushes you to unhealthy habits such as drinking, insomnia, overeating, smoking and even losing interest in intimacy. All these habits may lead to trouble in getting pregnant.

Don’t Over Exercise
Exercise in general is great for fertility, but excessive exercise has the opposite effect.  When your body is pushed to the brink of exhaustion, cortisol and stress hormones kicks in, and this cascade of hormones negatively affect menstrual cycles, ovulation and fertility. Exercise for fertility, not for vanity.

While these recommendations set the stage for pregnancy, they may not work for every couple. There are many factors leading to infertility, and these tips work great for ovulatory infertility but are less effective for infertility due to medical impediments such as blocked fallopian tubes. If you are over 35 years old and don’t see any improvements within six months or to a year (if you’re under 35), then it’s probably best to seek a professional opinion. Left untreated, fertility issues may sometimes go from bad to worse, and you may be able to reach your fertility goals much quicker with the proper treatment. Good luck!