safe motherhood

Your pregnancy - 29-40 weeks

Relaxation and insomnia

In late pregnancy it's a good idea to spend some time every day relaxing completely in a quiet place. You can do this by listening to a relaxation tape, or simply finding somewhere warm and comfortable to sit or lie down, closing your eyes and letting your breathing grow calm and even, concentrating on the out-breath.

A gentle stroll can be a pleasant way of winding down. And if you have enjoyed swimming throughout your pregnancy, continue to do so, as long as you can find a time when the pool is quiet. Not only is swimming good exercise but it's extremely soothing too.

Make a compilation audio tape of your favourite musical sounds and play it while your partner gives you a massage. Massage can be a perfect way of winding down, as long as you have confidence in your massage partner! Experiment together and learn what feels good.

Your partner should use a firm, steady pressure with the emphasis on the down stroke (that is the downward stroke should be stronger than the return stroke).

You may be especially sensitive to certain smells, so make time to find a massage oil or talc that's right for you. You don't need to buy an expensive oil though, any pure vegetable oil will do.

Another way to relax is to phone a friend you can talk to, or simply go out for a gossip with a girlfriend. Or watch a favourite video with someone you love.

Getting your hair done can be relaxing too. There won't be much time for hair salons straight after the birth, so it's worth making an appointment now.

Insomnia can become a problem towards the end of the pregnancy. You may find it difficult to find a comfortable position for sleep. Lying on your side, with one pillow under your bump and another between your legs, can help. (Lying on your back can lead to a drop in blood pressure and to faintness, so avoid it.)

Try to take a nap during the day when your maternity leave starts. Avoid big evening meals - they'll keep you awake. An evening cup of camomile tea can help you sleep. But if you can't sleep, don't fight it - read a book instead.