“Get sleep while you can!” – Have you heard that one yet?
Well, being on both sides of that now- I will tell you that physically, sleep was much better when I had a newborn on the outside versus a growing baby on the inside. A lot of fellow moms would likely agree with this sentiment. Newborns can get a bad rap in the sleep department, but not everyone discusses the common sleep issues during pregnancy- or what to do about them.
One big thing I advocate for when it comes to pregnancy is support! Not just support from friends and family- but also specifically pillow support for sleep. There are so many options for pregnancy pillows out on the market – one quick Google search will give you all the different brands and styles. Not that you have to go out and buy one of those though- the important thing is to find the right support for you!
First things first- Why is pillow support so important during pregnancy?
- At least 2 out of 3 expectant moms report experiencing lower back pain. Proper pillow support and positioning while resting or sleeping can help relieve some agitating factors.
- Leg and hip pain are also common issues during pregnancy and the increased weight gain and distribution can make finding a comfortable position much more difficult.
- Side-sleeping is recommended to help improve blood flow. The inferior vena cava (IVC) is a large blood vessel that returns blood back to the heart. It is up against the right side of the spine, so laying on the left side during pregnancy helps reduce the weight from the growing baby and uterus on the IVC. However, evidence shows that while the left side is optimal, laying on either side helps relieve pressure. Good returned blood flow = better blood circulation and more oxygen to mom and baby!
Now that we understand the “why” behind making sure you have pillow support, let’s take a quick look at the options:
- C-shaped pillow: Helps replace multiple pillows and can support your back, belly, head and neck. Depending on preference, it can be used in a “hug” form with the pillow in front or with the longer portion giving maximal support to the back.
- U-shaped Pillow: Think of this one like two large body pillows. It can offer more support than a C-shaped pillow, however, I will note that it can also be more difficult to get out of for those middle of the night bathroom trips.
- Wedge Pillow: This space-saving option doesn’t take up nearly as much of the bed. It is usually a smaller pillow which is more firm and can either be used for back support or underneath your belly.
- Body Pillow: Obvious perk if you already have one of these. You can use this behind your back for support or if you have two of them- make your own U-shaped support with one in front of you and one behind.
- Multiple Pillows: This is the route you should go with if you need support without buying extra items. An average of two to four pillows would be needed for proper support. My recommendation would be a pillow behind your back, one in-between your legs and one under your belly if that is comfortable.
Also note- Adding in an extra pillow with any of these options to elevate the upper half of your body can help alleviate some common breathing discomforts or heartburn issues the closer you get to delivery.
The truth of the matter is, finding a comfortable sleeping position in pregnancy can be difficult. The goal of pregnancy pillows or pillow support is to relieve some of the pressure and discomfort, while maintaining the ideal side-lying position. If you find that the couch or a recliner provides more support to you- that’s okay too! Rolling from side to side in bed and getting your belly to roll with you can be exhausting and add to the discomfort. While everyone has their own favorite, it is important to find something that works for you.
As I mentioned before, I am a big advocate for support in pregnancy! If you have any questions about third trimester, labor and delivery, or anything postpartum- reach out to your local Mama Coach and we would be happy to walk alongside you and answer any questions you may have!