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How to Sleep Better During Pregnancy

Sleep--what an indulgence it has become for all of you mamas. I am merely a mom to be, and I am beginning to realize already that growing a baby, even one that’s still marinating in the belly, can be a real challenge to our precious sleep patterns. But, knowing what I know about the importance of sleep, and how it affects us spiritually, I am trying my best to get as much rest as I possibly can.

As a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I have the luxury of practicing a medicine that is not only technical and solution-oriented but also beautifully spiritual. And, sleep is one of those aspects of life that is not only insanely important and restorative but also very telling and diagnostic from a TCM perspective.

In TCM, we see sleep as a representation of our spirit. By this I mean, our spirit—the part of us that interacts with the world all day long, mentally and emotionally—affects and is affected by our sleep. As the beautiful analogy in TCM explains, our spirit rests in our hearts at night. If our spirit isn’t finding rest, then our bodies are not being replenished and restored and our spirit—our emotional state—will suffer. In TCM, we see the heart as being a warm and cozy bed, which should be inviting to the spirit so that it can sleep and restore each night while we sleep.

However, if the heart is encumbered by stress or negative emotions it becomes rigid and inhospitable and we will therefore experience restless, fitful and unfulfilling sleep. To quote a TCM theory:

“Prolonged emotional strain and unresolved emotional issues impact the heart. When a person is overwhelmed with worry, resentment, craving or other intense emotions, the heart has no room for the spirit. The spirit flies away and the radiance of present awareness no linger illuminates the person’s life.”

So what does all this mean? Of course, life happens, and sleep can become limited in supply. However, even if we aren’t getting as much sleep as we once did, we should still work towards having peaceful and restorative sleep. We should still be aware of the hospitality of our hearts. This entails finding a way to clear your heart of negative emotion and worry so that you can entice your spirit to rest in your heart and thereby sleep—even if for less time than you’d like—in a way that replenishes not only your energy but your spirit.

Here are my top three recommendations for creating a more hospitable and peaceful heart:

1. Meditate. I know, I know—who has time for meditation?! I hear you. Believe me. And, I don’t even have a kid running around just yet. But… you can try to steal a few minutes each day for some deep, cleansing, spirit settling breathing. Even if it’s only a 3-5 minutes. Set the alarm on your phone (or download a meditation app like Headspace) and sneak away into a quiet space (even a bathroom stall works!) and breathe. Clear your mind, let go of pent up emotions, feel your body and just be.

2. Express. By this I mean: don’t hold stuff in. Let it out. Even if only in an email or a letter you write to yourself. Express your emotions. Holding things in only leads to a more rigid heart and a restless spirit. Express don’t repress—your peace hinges upon it.

3. Be Kind To You. Yes, first and foremost, be nice to the most important person in your life—YOU! Especially as mothers—or moms-to-be—we need to practice self love and kindness if only as a way to demonstrate to our children how imperative it is to love yourself first and foremost. Take time each day—a few seconds—to say something nice and kind to YOU. And tune into that judgmental voice in your head and challenge it. For every not so nice thing you say to yourself, respond with something softer and more loving. When I am in my head, being hard on myself, I’ll often remind myself, “Aimee you are doing the best you can do right now and I love you.” Try it, it feels so good!

Your heart longs to be warm, soft, open, loving and hospitable. It yearns to be free of emotional constraint and negativity. Support your health, your emotional state and your sleep by freeing yourself of worry and stress. Instead, shift your focus to all the good that surrounds you, and you will experience more restful and restorative sleep.

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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this

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Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


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