Pregnancy pillows: Do they really help? The benefits and facts explained
Sleeping when you’re pregnant kinda sucks. You’re getting up to pee every few hours (even when you don’t drink water in between, what gives?!), your back hurts, your bump’s in the way and sometimes you’re just so wide awake for no reason that sleeping isn’t even an option. Many pregnant women choose to sleep with a pregnancy pillow to help get their body in the right position, making sleep more comfortable. But do they really help? As the owner of a pregnancy pillow and a 24-week-old baby bump, I’ve got some thoughts. Read on.
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What is a pregnancy pillow?
Pregnancy pillows come in a few different shapes and sizes to offer different levels of sleep support for women in all stages of pregnancy. I bought myself the big mac daddy of pregnancy pillows which fully wraps around my entire body to provide support from the front and back when side sleeping, and also acts as a pillow for your head. Other shapes include one big long tube-like pillow that you can use to support your belly and slip between your knees to keep your hips in line (great for sore lower backs), and wedges that just provide support for your belly, help with alignment and relieve pressure, especially during the late stages of pregnancy.
How do you know which pillow is best for you?
You’ll need to think about how you slept pre-pregnancy to figure out what type of support you need most. It’s recommended that pregnant women sleep on their sides from the second trimester onwards, particularly the left side as this allows for maximum blood flow for you and your baby, and it doesn’t put pressure on your liver. Sleeping on your stomach just isn’t an option because it feels horrible, but if you’re naturally a back sleeper you may feel inclined to roll yourself back into this position at night, which is a no-no as it can cause your abdomen and uterus to press down on the major vein that works to return blood from your lower body to your heart and can therefore interfere with the delivery of blood and nutrients to the placenta.
So, if you’re already a side sleeper, a long rectangle that you can hug the heck out of and will support your belly and hips might be all you need. If you’re a back sleeper, the full body pillow will help to keep you on your side as it provides support from the front and back. If you just need a little help to relieve some discomfort in your back and hips, you might be keen on the wedge pillows. Try experimenting with some regular pillows to support your body at first – one between your knees and one behind your back – to see how it all feels. Also, ask around and see if anyone has a pillow that they wouldn’t mind lending you, so you can try before you buy.
How have I found my full-circle pillow?
Because I have back issues already (hello, scoliosis) I opted for the large contoured pillow because I thought it would give me everything I needed all in one hit. In hindsight, I probably should have gone for the rectangular body pillow for sleeping because it’s smaller and means I can still use my much-loved memory foam neck pillow. However, swaddling myself in my ginormous pillow while I watch TV on the couch might just be the greatest comfort I’ve ever known, so all is not lost. Instead of buying another pillow, I’ve switched to just putting a regular pillow between my knees at night for now to help keep my hips in line. As a natural side-sleeper, I’m not inclined to roll onto my back too much so it’s all I need at the moment.
Have you tried a pregnancy pillow and what did you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.