Pregnancy is an exciting time in a mother's life. Growing a new life inside of your belly is an incredible feeling. Every month you feel a new little nudge, hiccup or kick that sends your emotions into overdrive. But pregnancy is not all sunshine and rainbows. Creating a human being is hard on your body. Most women experience hip, back and pelvic pain throughout pregnancy. And while these aches can make moving around during the day difficult, one of the biggest complaints pregnant women have is they can't get a good night's sleep.
Though your body will naturally make space for your baby, there still isn't much room in the uterus for the baby to stretch out. As the fetus grows, space inside decreases and the baby will inevitably put pressure on organs, nerves and bones. The added pressure causes new aches and pains during different stages of development. Doctors advise against putting harmful chemicals and medications in your body when with child, so finding pain relief is challenging. A pregnancy pillow is a simple, drug-free solution to ease this positional discomfort.
There are no hard and fast rules on using a pregnancy pillow. Everyone tends to have their unique quirks and comforts. But, depending on the type of pain you're experiencing, specific techniques could help.
Hip and Knee Pain
Hips and knees may not seem like they could cause any problems, but they can affect the entire body when one is out of whack. Often, hip pain is one-sided, causing the sufferer to limp or favor the better side. This unintentional movement can throw everything out of alignment, causing pain from hips to toes. Side sleeping with a pregnancy pillow between the upper thighs will create space in the pelvis and hips. Use the bottom portion of a body pillow between the knees to keep everything in an open and straight line.
Sleeping positions are important throughout pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimesters. A back sleeper will notice problems during this time, as gravity forces baby's weight onto the spine. This position can also compress a major blood vessel that supplies oxygen to mother and baby. A full body pregnancy pillow will assist sleep positions by blocking a woman from rolling onto her back.
Body pillows have many other uses outside of the bedroom. Bring your body pillow to the couch when watching TV. Use the pillow to prop up your legs and ease lower body pain. Place any part of a body pillow behind your lower back for lumbar support. Multiple support areas will cradle your body and take the weight off of your back.
Sciatic Nerve Pain
Many pregnant women experience sciatic pain, and it is easy to recognize. The sciatic nerve runs from the hip down the legs. When something pinches the nerve, sufferers will experience a shooting, numbing or burning pain down one leg. Sciatic problems make standing, walking and sleeping very difficult.
Some doctors recommend patients suffering from sciatica sleep on their left side to promote optimal blood flow throughout the body. A c shaped or u shaped body pillow can be used as a barrier behind your back to keep you from rolling over. Additionally, you can place the front of u shaped pillow between the legs to deter any additional pressure on the nerve.
Pregnancy pillows are not run-of-the-mill bed pillows. They come in various shapes, sizes and materials. Shoppers can find some in stores, but will find more varied options through an online search. Whether it’s your first pregnancy or your 10th, the number of body pillow styles can be overwhelming.
Standard Body Pillows
A standard body pillow can help anyone needing a little extra support at night, so they do not keep a pregnant woman's needs at the top of mind. A regular body pillow is typically inexpensive, and stores usually sell them alongside regular bed pillows.
C Shaped Pregnancy Pillows
The body-sized pillows resemble a giant letter "C." They are substantial at around 4 to 5 feet in length and 2 to 3 feet wide. These are perfect for side sleeping because they cocoon around the entire body and support the head, legs, back and belly. The drawback to a c shaped body pillow is the open space on the side. Many women prefer to have total body support, and the c-shape’s opening requires some extra maneuvering. Their size also makes them one of the pricier options among the best pregnancy pillows. But they can double as a nursing pillow once the baby arrives.
U Shaped Pregnancy Pillows
U-shaped pregnancy pillows are similar in size to a c shaped pillow and also resemble a giant version of their alphabet namesake. The "U" shape offers complete support for both the front and back of the body. The large size can be intimidating for some with smaller mattresses. If sharing the bed with a partner, these enormous pillows seem to take up the entire bed. Although, when confronted with unrelenting pregnancy pains, many pregnant women will happily send their partner to the couch for a bit of relief.
A u shaped pregnancy pillow is among the best pregnancy pillows on the market. Their size and distinct shape are costly but worth it to many looking for a little belly support. Like other pregnancy pillows, these also work as a nurse pillow for long-term use.
Wedge Support Pillows
Anyone experiencing hip pain can benefit from a wedge-shaped pillow, so they may not always appear on an internet search for gestation products. They are typically much smaller, closer to the size of a regular pillow. Due to their more diminutive stature, these products cannot offer full-body support, but the wedge shape can provide pressure relief for any aching body part. The small size makes these pillows excellent options for travel or a smaller bed.
Adjustable Pregnancy Pillows
An adjustable maternity pillow is a fantastic option if you cannot decide which shape is best for you. These flexible pillows will twist and fold into any form and hold the desired shape. While these are great for customization, they may not be as comfortable as other preformed pillows. Many manufacturers will cut back on firmer materials to allow the product to bend effortlessly. The lower density makes for an easy-to-use pillow, but many fall flat at night.
Inflatable Pregnancy Pillows
An inflatable pillow is a bit controversial in comfort and softness. While air-filled cushions are adjustable, they cannot match the contouring benefits of softer materials. However, most inflatable pregnancy pillows serve a particular purpose, helping stomach sleepers.
Many versions resemble long body pillows with holes cut out of the center. The woman lies on top of the pad, face down, and places her baby bump in the space. To side sleepers, climbing on an inflatable pad may not make sense. But these pillows are a lifesaver for habitual stomach sleepers who cannot get used to sleeping on their sides.
The shape of the pillow is essential, but it won't help if it's not filled with the proper materials. Regular pillows and pregnancy pillows come in various fill options to meet anyone's preferences.
Like memory foam mattresses, memory foam pillows conform to the user's body. The material is quite dense, so some people consider these pillows too firm. But they will provide even support throughout the night and conform to your body as you move. Due to the density of the material, air circulation is a challenge with these pillows causing them to hold body heat. Excess warmth can be a problem for pregnant women experiencing night sweats. Some products have shredded memory foam or an aerated core to allow more air to move through, providing a cooler night's sleep.
Feather down is luxurious and often expensive filler material. Goose-down feathers are undoubtedly soft and lightweight. There is plenty of space inside the pillow to allow air to circulate, making this one of the coolest available options. But some find down to be cumbersome. You cannot easily remove or add down to match your preferred thickness because you'll have feathers flying all over your house, no pun intended.
You cannot wash feather-filled pillows, and many have allergies to the feathers themselves. As they would in an old movie, owners must fluff their down pillows. Down-filled products will not hold their shape. The constant folding and fluffing in the dead of night are too much of a hassle for many moms-to-be.
Polyester down-alternative filling offers a synthetic option for those who prefer the softness of down pillows. Customers can add or remove fill to achieve the desired thickness and still allow ample air to move through. Air circulation makes for a colder sleeping experience, keeping moms more comfortable than a denser memory foam pillow.
These pillows can vary, but some can be pretty expensive. Keep your investment fresh and clean by using a removable pillowcase to protect it.
You can't place all removable pillowcases in the washing machine with the laundry. Some materials need special care and can only be spot cleaned. If you do not follow proper care instructions, some fussier pillowcases could shrink or stretch and no longer fit your pillow correctly. Choosing a machine washable cover is also practical. If you plan to use it as a feeding pillow once the baby arrives, it is bound to see its share of messes. Wash and replace the pillowcase often to keep you and your baby clean and fresh.
If it is difficult to choose your favorite material, a reversible pillowcase may be just the solution. Keep cool in the summer with breezy cotton cover, and stay cozy in the winter with faux mink fur. The fabric options are endless, and changing makes any pillow feel brand new.
Some pillowcases will attach with strings or buttons, but these allow dust mites, pollen and other allergens to get through the open spaces and live inside your pregnancy body pillow. Allergen-control pillowcases boast a full-length zipper to keep allergens away from your pregnancy pillow. Though they can build up on the case itself, you can regularly toss these pillowcases in the wash to keep allergens at bay.
Pregnancy is an exciting but exhausting nine months. It is tempting to spend this time nesting and preparing for the baby, but don't forget to take care of yourself. Buying a pregnancy pillow can help you get the rest you need before your little one arrives.