Do you toss and turn when it's time to go to bed? Most pregnant women struggle to get their much-needed rest. Don't let your bed become a vessel for sleepless nights. There are tools to help you rest your head and relax your whole body. Forget your regular pillow and consider the benefits of learning how to sleep with a pregnancy pillow.
A pregnancy pillow is a sleep aid to help support an expecting mother's changing body. The pillow is designed to accommodate your shape and provide support where you need it.
Types of Pregnancy Pillows
Finding the right pillow when you're pregnant depends on your taste, comfort and the way you like to lay down. There are several types of pregnancy pillows, including:
When choosing a pillow type, consider the size, contour and shape. Some pregnancy pillows have a curve to tuck under your head and between your legs. A classic kind of pregnancy pillow extends the length of your body. You may even find a body pillow with a dip to cradle your growing baby.
Recommended Materials for Pregnancy Pillows
If you're like most pregnant women, you run warm. Some of the physical changes to your body raise your temperature. Additionally, your major blood vessels dilate to handle the excess blood, causing your skin to feel warmer.
When you try to get a good night's rest, you may sweat more easily, too. If you're shopping for a pregnancy pillow, choose the material most comfortable for you. Reversible fabric covers allow you to cool down or warm up, depending on the weather. An adjustable pregnancy pillow with removable filling can improve air circulation. The chevron quilting of the Body Nest can redistribute heat and wick away sweat at night.
Benefits of Using Pregnancy Pillows
A pregnancy pillow helps you find a comfortable, safe position to sleep in. As your weight increases, so does the stress on your back, hips and legs. Unfortunately, resting your muscles and joints by laying in bed with your old pillows may not alleviate your aches and pains.
Pregnancy pillows are designed to provide head, back, hip and neck support. Also, they encourage you to sleep on your side. When it comes to sleeping positions, your side is the best position to increase blood flow. Many people suffer from low blood pressure during pregnancy and yours may drop significantly while on your back.
Pregnant women should try to lay on their left side to avoid the uterus resting on the liver. Unfortunately, laying sideways without a pregnancy pillow may be uncomfortable with your growing belly. Lying with a pillow between your knees can alleviate pelvic tension.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, at least 50% of women experience insomnia during pregnancy, leading to sleep deprivation. Sleep is an essential function, and it becomes all the more critical when you're expecting. Not only is lack of sleep uncomfortable, but it can increase the risk of pregnancy complications. For example, sleep deprivation may contribute to high blood pressure, preeclampsia, more prolonged labor and gestational diabetes.
Early in your pregnancy, your progesterone levels increase, causing a wave of sleepiness during the day. A typical afternoon at work may feel exhausting to the point of experiencing flu-like symptoms. In addition to sleepiness in the day, progesterone can make disrupt your sleep throughout the night. Your out-of-control hormones, nausea and heartburn may make sleeping a nightmare.
As well, when you're pregnant, your kidneys have to process extra fluid. The process leads to extra bathroom breaks that may leave you scrambling out of bed at all hours of the night.
During your second semester, you typically start seeing your baby bump. Additionally, you may finally have a break from morning sickness. The second semester is usually better for sleep than the first and third trimesters. However, you should still learn how to sleep with a pregnancy pillow to increase your comfort throughout the middle of your pregnancy.
Most women get about 7.5 hours of sleep a night during the second trimester. Use this time to relax and catch up on your sleep. There are some symptoms that may manifest and disrupt your rest, however:
You may suffer from more congestion during the second trimester, creating issues with snoring or sleep apnea.
Most women consider the third trimester to be the most challenging trimester for sleep. As you prepare to give birth, your ligaments soften around your pelvic bones and your joints loosen, causing back pain. You may also experience weight gain as your belly grows. The size of your belly can interfere with how you sleep, especially if you slept on your back or stomach prior to pregnancy.
Heartburn and acid reflux also become more common during the third trimester. You may find it uncomfortable when lying down to sleep after a meal. Try to eat lighter meals and avoid spicy food.
Around one-third of women experience restless legs syndrome when carrying a baby. Symptoms of RLS include an itching, pulling or creepy-crawling sensation in the legs. The only way to ease the sensation is through movement. Some medical professionals believe RLS occurs due to low folic acid and iron.
After delivery, you may lose a lot of sleep for obvious reasons. Postpartum insomnia is common. In fact, about three-quarters of women experience insomnia following as well as during pregnancy. One of the most significant factors behind this sleep deprivation is the baby's arrival. Those first six weeks are a considerable adjustment, and newborns don't sleep through the night.
Additionally, your body continues to go through hormonal changes after delivery. As your progesterone drops, it alters the levels of melatonin in your body. This can interfere with your circadian rhythm so you may have difficulty calming down to sleep.
During pregnancy, you undergo musculoskeletal changes. These changes sometimes persist following delivery. Many women suffer from postpartum back pain. You may continue to require the back support offered by a maternity pillow after your baby arrives.
There is no set time to learn how to use a pregnancy pillow. Typically, once your bed becomes less comfortable, it's time to think about changing your position. It may become more difficult to switch sides or find a comfortable position after about 20 weeks.
As your baby grows, the increased weight shifts your center of gravity. To stop yourself from falling forward, you may compensate by leaning back. Due to this alteration in posture, you may experience more neck and back pain. Back support is essential while you're awake and also when you're in bed.
Using a Maternity Pillow for Sciatica
You don't have to be pregnant to benefit from the shape of a maternity pillow. Sciatica is pain that radiates from your lower back, through your hips, buttocks and down your legs along the sciatic nerve. Most patients experience this condition on one side.
Sciatica can severely reduce your quality of sleep. If you sleep on your stomach, you could additionally strain your neck and back. Contoured maternity pillows hug the shape of your body to reduce the strain on your spine.
Using a Maternity Pillow After Delivery
If you found maternity pillows comfortable while pregnant, you may continue to enjoy them after delivery. While you may associate pillows with sleeping, the pillow can also offer support to your baby during feeding. Wrap a u-shaped pillow around your waist and lay the baby on it while breastfeeding.
Mothers who go through difficult childbirth have to spend more time in recovery. Doctors may suggest you sleep on your back after a c-section delivery. If you can rest easily on your back, use pillows to elevate your feet or head. The side is one of the most comfortable positions because it doesn't put any weight on your incision. Also, laying on your side makes it easier to get out of bed. A maternity pillow supports your back and abdomen after surgery.
How you sleep with your pregnancy pillow depends on the type you choose. These are some of the most common options available.
A u-shaped pillow is one of the most comfortable shapes and offers full-body support for your back and stomach simultaneously. If you toss and turn in bed, you do not have to move the pillow when you shift positions.
A u-shaped pillow like the Body Nest is one of the most luxurious and versatile of all pregnancy pillows. The Body Nest cradles and supports you through all three trimesters and beyond.
If you're used to sleeping on your back, a u-shaped pregnancy pillow props your body on both sides and helps acclimate you to side-sleeping. Sleeping with one is simple. Wrap the pillow around your back and stomach and sleep through the night.
A c-shaped pillow offers support along your back while also cradling your head and pelvis. The pillow wraps around your body and supports the majority of problem areas. The support can also help with water retention.
The c-shaped pregnancy pillow keeps you in the same position throughout the night. If you want to change positions, you have to flip the entire pillow. Most women use it by wrapping it around their back with one end as a pillow for the head and neck and the other supporting the pelvic area.
The j-shaped pillow provides similar benefits to a u-shaped version. If you have a small bed, the j-shape is more compact and fits more easily. You can wrap the pillow around your back to support your position while sleeping or place one leg on top and another beneath while hugging the pillow to support your belly.
Full Body Pillows
Full-length pillows are similar to traditional pillows, only longer. These extended pillows can prop up any area you need the most support. Pregnant people often use them to support the belly. Hug the cushion and place one leg above and the other below it.
The wedge-shaped pillow is a standard maternity cushion. This is a smaller and easily portable pillow to use during and after pregnancy. The wedge pillow comes in two shapes, round and triangular.
To use a wedge-shaped pillow, place it under your belly or behind your back to provide support when sleeping on your side or stomach. You can also use it as a regular pillow to raise your head.
When you're preparing to have a baby, you need as much sleep as possible. It can be difficult to find a comfortable position with all of the physical changes involved with pregnancy. Forget tossing and turning all night; learning how to sleep with a pregnancy pillow like the Body Nest is a game-changer.