Pregnancy is a time that our bodies undergo some serious changes. While pregnancy isn’t classed as an illness but rather a condition, it still comes with a huge number of uncomfortable side effects.
For mom to be’s body, this means finding ways to increase comfort and be ready for the arrival of that precious bundle of joy. And one of the number one complaints of pregnant women is that they cannot find a comfortable sleeping position.
But there could be an answer to this conundrum and it comes in the form of a u shaped pregnancy pillow. But is a pregnancy pillow worth it and will it actually improve your sleep during those nine months?
•Pregnancy pillows are designed to contour the body and make it more comfortable to lie in certain positions during pregnancy, particularly the later months of the third trimester when the strain on your body is greater.
• The NHS, in the United Kingdom, recommends that after the 28th week of pregnancy, women should aim to sleep on their sides; in particular, their left side.
• Pregnancy pillows provide support to the shoulders and neck and can reduce pain and common pregnancy symptoms such as nasal congestion, leg cramps, back pain, heartburn, and acid reflux.
• Pregnancy pillows also improve alignment, and circulation, reduce swelling, and promote better sleep.
What Is A Pregnancy Pillow?
Pregnancy pillows are pillows designed to contour the body and make it more comfortable to lie in certain positions during pregnancy, particularly the later months of the third trimester when the strain on your body is greater.
These pillows come in a range of shapes and sizes designed to meet a variety of need.
There is the c shaped pillow which is ideal for tucking under the head while the opposite end curls around to fit between the knees.
You might also choose the u shaped pillow which is perfect for ladies who often switch sides during the night. The shape of this pillow means that you won’t have to readjust it every time you move in the night.
You can also choose a wedge pillow which is perfect for providing support for a specific area of the body. Many women use them between the knees, under their belly, or underneath their back. Unlike the c shaped or u shaped pillow, they provide more targetted support.
Finally, there are full body pillows that run parallel to the body and there are even some that have a cut out that allows space for your growing belly.
How Should You Sleep During Pregnancy
The NHS, in the United Kingdom, recommends that after the 28th week of pregnancy, women should aim to sleep on their sides; in particular, their left side. But this sleeping position isn’t always the most comfortable which is why the same authority also recommends the use of a pregnancy pillow.
The idea is that the sleeper will wedge the pillow between their legs in order to to keep the hips aligned with the pelvis. Without the use of these pillows, this is not as easy.
While most would agree that the use of a pregnancy pillow benefits women in the third trimester, there is no cut-and-dry rule as to when you can start using a pregnancy pillow. The pregnant woman’s body is different, not only between people but between pregnancies as well. It’s important that you find a good pregnancy pillow that keeps you comfortable, regardless of what stage you are at.
If it helps you sleep, then it’s worth the investment.
What Are The Benefits Of A Pregnancy Pillow?
You may find that your regular pillows do not give the extra support that your body needs during this time. If you want to get a good night’s sleep then using a pregnancy pillow could be a way to achieve that.
But while I can sit here and tell you that these pillows will make your nights more comfortable, I need to back up this claim. Here are some of the reasons that a pregnancy pillow may benefit you.
Reduces Pain And Common Pregnancy Symptoms
Pregnancy can bring on all kinds of aches and pains but using a pregnancy pillow can improve this dramatically. Things like nasal congestion, leg cramps, back pain, and even heartburn and acid reflux can be reduced.
Poor alignment is one of the leading causes of back pain even when you’re not pregnant. Throw in that baby bump and things could get even worse if you don’t take good care of your postural health.
Fortunately, the use of pregnancy pillows means that your hips, spine, and neck will be better aligned and you’ll feel more comfortable.
Better Support For Side Sleeping
Around 74% of the population sleeps on its side and during late pregnancy, it’s agreed that this is one of the most beneficial sleeping positions. But in order to feel comfortable, you need to keep that alignment in check.
Even more than this, pregnancy pillows can improve circulation ensuring that, even when you’re lying on your side, your baby is still getting a good blood supply.
I remember the days of tossing and turning and I wish I had gotten a pregnancy pillow sooner. Those nine months are some of the hardest in terms of sleep and while there may still be some niggles that keep you awake, your pregnancy pillow will make serious improvements.
This is important as sleep is essential to good health. Moms to need to be in tip top condition in preparation for the birth of their baby and for how busy life will be once little one comes along.
Ideal For Breastfeeding
While they are called pregnancy pillows, these accessories are perfect for after the baby is born. If you are planning to breastfeed then they come in handy long after birth.
It is possible to buy a special nursing pillow but you can use the maternity pillow you had throughout your pregnancy to help you find a comfortable breastfeeding position.
Use It In The Long Run
Maternity pillows don’t have to only be used in pregnancy; they’re ideal long after you’ve given birth.
Once your baby arrives, your body won’t return to normal for some time and you may still experience body aches and other complaints. Continuing to use your pillow during this time will help to alleviate some of that.
Moving forward, there is no reason that you cannot continue to use the pregnancy pillow well into the future. If it helps you to sleep and makes you feel comfortable, why waste a perfectly good investment.
How Does A Pregnancy Pillow Support Your Body?
Neck And Shoulder Support
Instead of waking up with a strained neck, your pregnancy pillow should provide support to this area by preserving the natural curve of your spine.
Furthermore, pregnancy pillows provide support to the shoulders. Any additional pressure while you are sleeping on your side can cause you to wake up with aches and pains. These pillows do a much better job of supporting the upper body compared to a traditional pillow.
As you progress through your pregnancy, you belly will grow bigger and bigger. Depending on the weight of your baby, or how many little ones you have in there, your belly can feel very heavy.
When you sleep on your side, the increasing weight of your uterus can put a huge strain on your abdominal muscles as well as causing back pain. But having a pregnancy pillow under your baby bump provides you with the support you need.
One of the most common pregnancy side effects is pain in the lower back. While this is inevitable, for the most part, using a pregnancy pillow may reduce it significantly. This is because the pillow, particularly u shaped pillows, provide support for the spine and ensure it is correctly aligned.
Knee and Ankle Support
It’s important not to forget about lower body support when considering whether a pregnancy pillow is worth it. Since these pillows elevate the ankles and knees, this can be beneficial in reducing swelling which is common during pregnancy. Moreover, with the lower body elevated like this, there is less chance of your hips tilting.
Choosing The Right Pregnancy Pillow
It’s no use going out and buying the first pregnancy pillow you come across. There are some that aren’t going to give you the support you need. During the second and third trimesters, as your body weight increases, it is vital that you have the right pillow.
Before you settle on a pillow, there are a few things worth thinking about.
Shape And Size
There are some pregnancy pillows out there that are simply enormous! You have to think about the available bed space as some pregnant women aren’t lucky enough to be sleeping on a giant bed.
If you are, then brilliant, you’re free to choose something as large as you like. However, I would recommend taking measurements before you buy anything as the last thing you want is to get home to discover that your pillow is just too big!
The good thing about a larger pillow is that it will support the entire body. This is, of course, going to provide the most comfort. But it’s no use if it’s hanging off the side of the bed. There are a good range of pregnancy body pillows that are more compact and designed for smaller spaces.
You’ll also need to think about the shape of the pregnancy pillow. As I mentioned earlier, they come in a choice of shapes. Here’s a quick recap on what each one offers:
The C shaped pillow helps to keep the hips aligned as well as supporting either the back or the belly, but doesn’t support both sides of the body at once.
A U shaped body pillow is great for the side sleeping position as it provides all round support.
The wedge pillow is used to target certain areas. Some pregnant women don’t want a full body pillow but find it easier to fall asleep when their belly or back has a little extra support.
The total body pillow has a shape that resembles a comma and contours perfectly to the body. It looks a little different to the traditional pregnancy pillow but is also great for lounging and resting during the day.
Material And Cover
As with shape and size, pregnancy pillows come in a range of materials. Typically, the filling will either be shredded memory foam or down or feather.
The shredded memory foam pillow is ideal for conforming to your body shape and providing excellent support. However, it is not as breathable as feather of down and so some moms to be find it’s a little too hot.
You’ll also want to think about what material the cover is made from. Is it soft on the skin? Is it breathable? More importantly, is it machine washable?
It can be tempting to go for the cheapest maternity pillow you can find but that’s not always a good option. You may find that this results in less support than other pregnancy pillows and that the whole thing feels a bit flimsy.
Do I Need A Pregnancy Pillow?
Having looked at the many benefits of a pregnancy pillow, it’s easy to see why so many women choose to use one. Of course, during pregnancy, you’re already spending a lot of money so the question of whether a sleeper pillow is worth forking out for still remains.
I would suggest that a pregnancy pillow is a worthwhile investment for most pregnant women. While it is perfectly possible to get through your pregnancy without one, you’ll be a lot more comfortable if you find the right pillow. Plus, you’ll get a better night’s sleep and won’t have as many aches and pains.
What’s more, since you can use the pillow again for breastfeedings and keeping comfy long after birth, it’s not something that you’ll have to give up in those postpartum days.
With a growing baby bump, you may feel as though getting to sleep at night has become much more of a chore than it needs to be. But by using a pregnancy pillow, you may be able to get comfortable more easily thanks to improved alignment and greater support.
These pillows come in a range of shapes and sizes which will meet the varying needs of different women. Even after you have given birth, you’ll find that the best pregnancy pillows continue to be useful and help you get a better night’s sleep.