Quality sleep can be hard to come by for pregnant women. Adding the physical and psychological demands of pregnancy to your life is exhausting. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your body rest while it’s working hard to support your growing baby.
Is Sleeping Difficult During Pregnancy?
The short answer: Yes, it can be. As an expecting mother, your body will undergo many changes in nine months. Some of these changes will affect your sleep. Here’s why:
From the moment you are pregnant, your body’s hormones will shift to create a baby-friendly environment in your womb. This is great for your baby, but can be hard on you.
Hormones play a part in nausea, frequent urination, and muscle cramps: all things that could cause you to wake up while you’re attempting to sleep. They also affect your sleep directly when a rise in progesterone makes you feel more sleepy during the day, and interrupts your natural sleep cycle at night.
You can’t control your hormones, but if you’re aware of what’s going on in your body you can plan your day with extra rest time.
Your lower back feels tight, your stretching skin feels itchy, your breasts are sensitive to touch, and your whole body aches. The physical discomfort that comes with pregnancy makes it difficult to find a comfortable position to sleep in.
Sometimes switching things up can make resting a little easier. Nurture& has a collection of gliders that are all designed for comfort. Sitting in a reclined position may ease back pain and provide the extra support you need to feel relief.
Pregnancy may bring about some overwhelming worries for moms-to-be. The mental and emotional stresses you feel may keep you awake at night even when you can get comfortable.
What will my delivery be like? How much time will I need to take off work? Will I be a good mom?
Take care of the issues you have control over as soon as possible—like scheduling time off work and making plans for how your support people can help you—to slow your busy brain at bedtime.
The further along in your pregnancy you are, the more likely you’ll have some acid reflux. The pressure of your growing baby pushing up on your stomach causes heartburn. It tends to peak at night when you’re laying down because gravity is working against you. Keeping your head and shoulders propped up while you sleep can help relieve heartburn symptoms.
What is a Sleeping Pillow?
It’s a pillow designed to provide pressure relief to your whole body as you sleep. These versatile props can be used in bed or for extra support while sitting. They’re larger than regular pillows and come in different shapes and sizes for different needs.
Many women find a sleeping pillow useful starting around 20 weeks of pregnancy through their third trimester, but you can make the purchase at any time. Choose a maternity pillow that best braces your unique body.
What’s the Best Sleeping Position During Pregnancy?
During the first and second trimesters, you have more flexibility in comfortable sleep but the ideal sleeping position for pregnant women is laying down on your left side with your head slightly elevated and a cushion between your knees. This promotes proper blood flow to get oxygen and nutrients to your baby.
During the third trimester, some doctors recommend against sleeping on your back, as this position could potentially cause your growing baby to put pressure on your organs and blood vessels. One or more adjustable pregnancy pillows can give you the full-body support you’re looking for.
Types of Pregnancy Pillows
Support pillows vary in shape and size. Use this list to find the best pregnancy pillow for you.
The U-shaped pregnancy pillow supports your head, belly, knees, and back. These pillows take up the most room in your bed but don’t need to be repositioned every time you roll over. The open end of the U leaves your legs free to move to either side.
Tuck one side of the pillow between the bed and your belly to alleviate the heaviness as you lean back slightly onto the other side of the U. The cushioning on both sides of your body helps greatly when laying on your side amplifies hip pain.
The C-shaped pregnancy pillow has a firm wrap-around feel. This pillow is best for back support while side sleeping. The top of the C cradles your head and the bottom wraps under your pelvic area and comes back up below your baby bump.
Women who are typically back sleepers may benefit from this pillow since it keeps your body in the side-lying position all night. The counterpressure the pillow creates between your legs lessens hip and pelvic pain.
When you turn it upside down to look like a cane, the J-shaped pillow can be used under your head and behind your back, or cuddle it from the front to lift your belly and separate your knees. The J-shape takes up less space but makes you choose between front or back support.
The pregnancy wedge-shaped pillow is small. It takes up the least amount of space in your bed and is easy to travel with. It’s the most versatile based on its compact size so it supports any part of your body with a slight incline.
You can use the wedge pillow under your belly while laying on your side, behind your back, under your hips, or to elevate your head and shoulders.
This is an elongated version of a regular pillow. The full-length pregnancy pillow stretches the entire length of your body to support a side sleeper's head, belly, and knees. Much like the J-shape a full-body pillow takes up less space and can be used to brace either side of your body.
An inflatable maternity pillow is a belly sleeper's dream. Fill it with air to the firmness of your liking and as you lay down place your baby bump in the appropriately spaced open hole.
This may not be the most practical solution for getting cozy in bed, but it’s a nice nap pad in the daytime or the perfect place to lay down for a back massage.
What to Do With a Pregnancy Pillow After Your Baby is Born
Keep it. Your backache and general discomfort may not completely go away right after you deliver your baby. In your early postpartum days, your body needs just as much support as it did during pregnancy. Your body will be healing and sleep will be more precious than ever when you’re taking care of a newborn.
The U-shaped pillow gives great back support while you’re sitting with your baby and can wrap around your lap to assist in holding your little one while breastfeeding or giving them a bottle.
If the wedge pillow worked best for you during pregnancy, continue to use it to prop your feet up, and add a feeding pillow to the collection to support your baby while you hold them.
Tips for Better Sleep
Choosing the right support pillow is a great first step to a good night’s sleep. Here are a few other changes you can make to your daily routine to promote quality sleep during pregnancy:
- Staying active during the day can help reduce cramps at night that interrupt your sleep. This might look like simply stretching and walking every day. Set a goal that feels achievable for you.
- Consistently drinking water throughout the day is a necessity. Dehydration during pregnancy can lead to extreme fatigue, dizziness, and fainting. Drink the majority of your water early in the day so you’re not making trips to the bathroom all night.
- Avoid heartburn by eating multiple snack-sized meals throughout the day instead of a large meal in one sitting. Steer clear of foods that are spicy or acidic—sometimes sweets trigger heartburn too.
- Listen to your body and take naps during the day when you feel tired. Keep the daytime naps short so they don’t affect your nighttime sleep.
- Add a comforting ritual to your bedtime routine to wind down before you sleep. Try a warm bubble bath or use lavender essential oil to help calm your body.
- Keep your caffeine consumption to a minimum and avoid it altogether within six hours of bedtime.
- Shut off the screen time in bed. Most of us are guilty of late-night scrolling through social media, but the light engaging us on the screen keeps our brains wide awake making it more difficult to fall asleep.
You can find more pregnancy tips and tricks in our blog.
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