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5 reasons you can’t sleep during the first trimester

Sleep problems don’t only arise during the final stretch of pregnancy.

insomnia early pregnancy

One of the biggest pieces of advice moms-to-be receive is “get your sleep now before baby arrives!" But between insomnia, little legs kicking your bladder, heartburn, leg cramps and more, that is much easier said than done. Many mamas find themselves roaming around like zombies during the first trimester, as their bodies are exerting so much energy growing that new little human that they find it next to impossible to get a good night's sleep to recuperate.

Does this sound like you? Given all of the physical changes women go through in early pregnancy, it is no surprise that 8 out of 10 women suffer from sleep problems during pregnancy.


Below are some common sleep issues during the first trimester and some tips on how to overcome insomnia in early pregnancy:

1. Daytime Drowsiness

High levels of the hormone progesterone, which helps regulate women's reproductive cycle, flood through your body in early pregnancy. Not only does progesterone make you feel overwhelmingly drowsy during the day, but it also can disrupt your nighttime sleep leading to even more daytime fatigue. With all of the hormonal and physical changes your body is experiencing, it is no surprise that you are struggling to find the energy to keep up your usual daily rhythm. Allow yourself the time to rest with a short nap or two during the day, when possible, to compensate and know that most women's energy levels perk up as they make it into the second trimester.

2. Nausea

At least 75% of women experience nausea during the early weeks of pregnancy. The often mis-named “morning sickness" can last throughout the day and can be particularly unpleasant at night as it can keep you from sleeping. In order to help the nighttime queasiness subside, keep light snacks, like crackers, by your bed for you to nibble on when you wake up. This will help you feel better so that you can get back to sleep. Additionally, try sipping a cup of ginger tea before bedtime (and throughout the day!) as ginger has been proven to reduce nausea.

3. Midnight Hunger

If nausea isn't keeping you up, then it could be the constant feeling of hunger throughout the first trimester that is kicking in at night and keeping you from sleep. We have all heard the phrase “eating for two"--and many moms-to-be look forward to some guilt-free cake and doughnut eating--but try eating a balanced healthy diet with whole grains, lean proteins and fresh fruits as these will fill you up and give you and your growing little on the nutrients that you need.

Try eating many small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. This ensure that you and your growing baby have a steady stream of nutrients to fend off any hunger urges that pop up. Eat your meals slowly to avoid any heartburn and feel free to grab a light snack, ideally a protein and complex carb like cheese and crackers, just before bed. This will help steady your sugar levels throughout the night.

4. Constantly Needing To Pee

Is your growing uterus putting unwanted pressure on your bladder, causing you to run for the the bathroom about 100 times a day? This is a common pregnancy woe in early and late pregnancy. You can try to cut down on the nighttime trips to the bathroom by drinking plenty of fluids during the day, but cutting down in the late afternoon and evening. You can also avoid caffeine as this triggers our need to pee (and it will help with any possible insomnia!) and when you do go, lean forward to be sure that you are fully emptying your bladder every time.

5. Insomnia

Whether it is feelings of anxiety about birth or motherhood, your super-tender breasts that make it difficult to find a comfortable sleep position, heartburn or any of the other reasons mentioned here that are keeping you from sleeping, there is no doubt that insomnia is a common issue amongst pregnant women. If you are finding it hard to fall or stay asleep, try giving yourself a soothing wind-down routine each evening. Soak in a warm bath, drink a glass of warm milk, read a good novel instead of watching a series on Netflix or try some relaxation techniques to help lull you into a calm state and ready for sleep. Make sure that the bedroom is a comfortable, slightly cool, temperature and trade in your afternoon sugar pick-me-up for a nice prenatal yoga class or a brisk walk outdoors.

Expect the first trimester to be exhausting. For most women, insomnia and other sleep issues will pass and if you are really struggling, try giving yourself the opportunity to nap during the day before trying any sleep-inducing supplements, medicines or herbs. Always consult with your doctor if any of these issues become unmanageable.

Written by Sasha Romary. Sasha launched The Modern Mama in 2016 to provide maternity and postpartum support to women worldwide. As a trained postpartum doula, Sasha uses evidence-based information and a practical approach to supporting new parents in preparing for the arrival of a new baby and in the early days of parenthood. Follow her adventures at @_themodernmama.

Image via Stocksnap.

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These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

Minimize smoke exposure.

Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at AirNow.gov. An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

Do your best to filter the air.

According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

"Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

"COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

Most importantly, don't panic.

In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

From Adelia to Ziggy.

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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