A pregnancy pillow will probably be the greatest boon to mothers who are trying to get rest and sleep while dealing with an ever-growing bump in the middle of their bodies. That increasing belly, growing weight and expanding hips put stress on the spine and legs making aches and pains of muscle and ligament strain a real discomfort that interferes with sleep.
All is not lost however. Thanks to the pregnancy pillow ─ also known as the maternity pillow, belly pillow, pregnancy sleeping pillow or even body pillow ─ its “support cushioning” for that growing bump can really help alleviate “pains” and give you your much-needed sleep just when you need it most.
So, what exactly is a Pregnancy Pillow?
Truly an ingenious invention, a pregnancy pillow is essentially a cushion that offers the changing curves of your body support in all the right places. A pregnant woman’s centre of gravity changes quite drastically over the months and especially in the later stages of pregnancy. The pillow is therefore particularly helpful in the third trimester when the weight and size of the belly makes sleeping on your back and side or any other position difficult.
Every woman’s body is different in terms of height, weight and shape. Therefore pregnancy pillows come in many shapes and sizes to accommodate all these different body forms. Usually much longer than the usual pillow, pregnancy pillows are contoured in such a way that they provide support for your hips, neck, back, shoulders, legs and most important of all ─ your extending stomach ─ in all the right places.
Some pregnancy pillows are crescent or half-moon wedge-shaped, some are wedge-shaped like a piece of cheese from Tom & Jerry TV serials. Some resemble very long sausages that can be bent into positions that suit you best, and some look like long normal pillows with an indent in the middle to cradle your belly as you sleep on the side. Whatever their shapes, these pillows prevent the weight of the growing belly from rolling you over and give you sustained balance as you sleep through the night.
The most interesting ones, however, are the U-shaped pregnancy pillows or U-pillows as they are sometimes called, that snuggle you completely inside. Said to provide the best support by several pregnancy pillow reviews, you simply lie inside the U-shape on your back and straddle your legs on the two ends of the U. Or you turn to your side and place a leg over one end of the U while you get supported by the other end of the U.
Actually a U-shaped pregnancy pillow supports any position that you feel most comfortable sleeping in and can even double up as a breastfeeding support cushion for baby and you later on. The best news is: They are quite inexpensive as they cost under RM100, if you buy them online. But these pillows are difficult to wash and do take up space on your bed as they tend to be bulky. But that is a small price to pay for nine months of sound and peaceful sleep.
How Pregnancy Pillows Aid You in So Many Ways
1. Improves Blood Circulation
The growing baby and expanding uterus pushes your organs out of the way to make space. Breathing may become more difficult and swelling may occur at the ankles and legs due to oedema. The pregnancy pillow lets you elevate some areas of your body allowing for better circulation. Your improved blood circulation will then allow nutrients to flow not just to your own vital organs but also to your baby as it grows.
2. Alleviates Body Aches and Pains
As many as 80% of women experience lumbar and pelvic pain as their belly gets bigger, research says. When lying down, the pregnancy pillow provides the back, neck, hips, knees and legs a kind of “buoyancy” and “fixes” the body’s alignment which will give you tremendous relief. Furthermore, doctors say, the best position to sleep in is on your left side. The bump must thus be supported so that its weight does not drag or pull the spine out of position.
3. Better Quality of Sleep
Lack of sleep causes one to feel cranky, worn, moody and irritable. Imagine handling that while you deal with the daily challenges of the pregnancy. As everybody knows, the body repairs itself when you sleep. It allows you to wake up feeling energized and rejuvenated. Since a pregnancy pillow is designed to give you better sleep by preventing you from tossing and turning all night long, this restful sleep will help you build strength in readiness for the arrival of baby.
4. Relieves Heartburn
Heartburn, burping, acid reflux and gas. These are all part and parcel of pregnancy. Sleeping on your back can aggravate the problem as the stomach and many other internal organs have lesser and lesser space due to the growing uterus. A pregnancy pillow with an incline can certainly ease heartburn and acid reflux by elevating the upper part of the body.
5. Good for Breastfeeding
After you deliver, the pillow can be used as a prop for baby to help him or her latch on during breastfeeding. It also relieves your arms from having to hold baby up to breastfeed. Comfortable positions matter and can make all the difference to a successful and rewarding breastfeeding experience for both baby and you.
When Do You Begin Using a Pregnancy Pillow?
There are no hard and fast rules as to when you should use a maternity pillow. Usually the growing bump will be quite discernible by the 20th week. Using a pregnancy pillow can prevent round ligament pain and other pregnancy bone and muscle aches and pains.
All in all, a pregnancy pillow is a worthwhile investment for rest and restoration during and even after your 40 weeks of pregnancy.