Disturbed Sleep and Preterm Labor

When I was pregnant with my son, I was depressed and I had a difficult time sleeping. I had lost a baby just before that pregnancy. I was so haunted by my daughter’s stillbirth that I slept with the light on in my bedroom at night. With my son, my preterm labor started at 28 weeks. I was put on bed rest, and given medication to try to cease my labor. I went in for shots and IVs to stop my labor more times than I can even remember. Around 35 weeks, my OB didn’t really know what else to do and he told me I needed to try to relax better. He told me to take Benadryl and get some sleep.

Back then, I didn’t know of natural remedies. I took the Benadryl once a day before bed and I slept like crazy. My preterm labor, which had already effaced my cervix to 90% and dilated it to 4cm, stopped.

Now, that is just an anecdotal story, but I just read an article that helped me understand what may have happened. Researchers from University of Pittsburgh discovered that disturbed sleep releases an inflammatory response and can contribute to preterm labor and preterm birth, as well as many other pregnancy problems.

Some ideas for a good night’s sleep

These days, if I found  myself in the same situation, I probably would not have turned first to Benadryl. I like to take the natural route whenever possible. Here are some ways to help improve sleep quality and fall asleep faster:

  • Fall asleep in the dark. It’s very important to not expose yourself to light just before or during your bedtime. When it is dark, our bodies produce more melatonin. Melatonin helps us regulate sleep. Try to sleep in as dark of an area as possible, avoid surfing the computer before bed as well.
  • Eat oatmeal and tart cherry before bed.  Tart cherry and oatmeal are two easy foods that get your body naturally occurring melatonin, in case you need a boost to help you fall asleep. This gives you small does of Melatonin without having to take an artificial supplement. Other foods include flax seed, raspberries, and sunflower seeds!
  • Keep a notebook and pencil by your bed.  Perhaps a list of things to do is what keeps you up at night. Having a notebook and pencil right there let you keep track of the things you need to remember so that you don’t have to.
  • Take a warm shower. A warm shower right before bed can help relax your muscles for a better night’s sleep.

Did you have trouble sleeping during pregnancy? Do you have any helpful tips to share? Leave your comment here, we’d love to hear from you!

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