I sit here and write at 10:15 pm, understand that this post is also
written as a piece of advice that I need to follow as we get closer to
our estimated due date…
you are working outside of the home when you are pregnant, it is
somewhat easier to convince yourself to get some sleep. You know what
is required of you at work, and you make an effort to get to sleep in
the first place. Or, if you tend to wake up in the middle of the night,
you know it’s imperative for you to rest so you can function the next
day…so you make an effort to go back to sleep.
you have other children to care for, getting rest becomes more of a
challenge. They have needs and wants that must be met. With more
people in the house, come more chores that need to be done: more dishes,
more clothes that need to be washed, a bigger mess that needs to be
swept…you get the idea. If you are a stay-at-home mom like me, you also
have meals to get creative with three times a day, plus healthy snacks
to prepare…It’s a big temptation to take advantage of quiet time when
your kiddos are sleeping to get things done despite the fact I know that
I would be better of getting rest so I am fresh for the next day.
remember that for my first pregnancy, I would stay up late at night
watching the crazy shows and scrapbooking and generally not getting
sleep. It was a decision I came to regret as I ran out of energy at the
end of our labor. We
learned the lesson the hard way with an intervention that wouldn't have been necessary if I had given into my tiredness and slept when my body asked me to sleep during labor.
We feel it is very important to start conserving your energy and making
sure you get enough sleep as you get into the third tri-mester. For
one, your baby is having another growth spurt. This means that your
body is spending energy not just making your growing baby, but
nourishing them with the extra oxygen and nutrients they need. If you
feel like you need a nap, take it! You will be better for it in the
We encourage our Bradley Method® students to start getting as much sleep as
possible when they reach 35 to 36 weeks. Although science tells us we can’t “catch up” on sleep, I
would make the analogy that you want to treat it like a savings account.
You want to “bank” as much sleep as you can. Since you don’t know if
and when you are going to go into labor, you want to act as if each
night is your last opportunity to get a good night’s sleep.
first truth is that once your labor starts, it will be hard to convince
yourself to sleep if it’s your first time baby because you are so
excited; no couple believes that they are going to be the ones with a
long labor. The second truth is that you will not get very much sleep
after your baby arrives. Most of our students who come back to tell
their birth stories, they say things like, “Sleep? What’s that?” Most
of them report that it takes 2-4 weeks to get into a routine that
includes longer periods of sleep for mom or dad.
If you are an expecting mother, I would encourage you to learn how to fall asleep
when you practice relaxation with your coach. Work at training your
body to completely relax at the sound of your coach’s voice and under
his touch. If you can do it well, then you are more likely to be able to fall asleep when he
relaxes you during your labor.
do you keep from getting too excited? Coach can time a couple of
contractions and if they are 10 to 20 minutes apart, convince yourselves
that you are going to have a long labor, and remember that you want to
have energy for the hard work at the end of labor. Remind yourselves of
all the interventions that you want to avoid. Your body will be more
efficient if it is rested than if it is tired. Therefore the more tired
you are, the more likely you are to be offered, and to be tempted to
take, the interventions you want to avoid in the first place.
rarely give you a list of don’ts, however here are some important ones
in early labor when your contractions are more than 10 minutes apart:
don’t bake, don’t clean, don’t go for a walk, and don’t stay awake if
your water breaks first. Just go to sleep! Active labor is defined as
strong contractions that are 3-5 minutes apart. I promise that you
cannot sleep through these stronger contractions if you are
un-medicated. You will wake up in time to participate in your birth!
you can do is eat to appetite and drink to thirst before you take your
nap. Then you and your coach go to your “nest”, darken the space and do
a good relaxation so that you can sleep. It is also advisable for your
coach to get some sleep; he will be working as long as you are actively
working in your labor.
you wake up from that good nap, then you can bake, clean, walk – do
things that will distract you from labor and also things that start to
stimulate your labor. You will be more ready to face your labor calmly
when you are rested and ready to work.
your labor progresses, you may find it is taking a while longer than
you expected despite a good nap at the beginning. If and when you feel
your energy waning, it is a great time to work together with your coach
to get extra rest. This is one of the reasons why it’s important for
coach to rest – it will be his or her job to time your contractions
faithfully and nudge you to full consciousness 15-30 seconds before the
next contraction begins.
can close your eyes and rest, or if you are really tired, you will find
that you can actually fall asleep and take little power naps. Even if
you only get 2-3 minutes of rest between contractions, you will find it
feels amazingly restful. With enough of these little naps, you can
handle the stronger contractions of late first stage with the strength
and calm necessary for this phase of labor. For that reason, sleep is one of the ways you can avoid unnecessary pain in labor. You can also gain the
energy you need for transition and the pushing phase of labor.
is also a reason why some couples opt to hire a doula. In the event of
a long labor, the coach and the doula can take turns resting
themselves. This way someone full of energy is always awake coaching
mom, lending her energy and providing comfort measures.
wish we had a clear-cut way to predict the length of labor when it
starts. If this was true, then we could tell who needed to get some
sleep and who could stay awake for the duration of their labor. Since
there is no way of knowing for sure, I encourage you to please do
everything you can to sleep in the weeks leading up to your labor, and
do your very best to take a nap before your labor starts gets into the
you already had your baby, what was your experience with sleep and
labor? Do you have any advice to share with first-time parents?
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical
advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider
to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own
situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in
Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The
Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily
reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of