Why do I need pillows for pregnant women and what are they?

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Sleep­ing on your stom­ach dur­ing preg­nan­cy is only pos­si­ble in the ear­ly stages, and doc­tors strong­ly advise against sleep­ing on your back. But even on the side, a large bel­ly makes it dif­fi­cult to lie down com­fort­ably, and soft­en­ing of the lig­a­ments can add dis­com­fort. If we add to this prob­lems with sleep in the lat­er stages of ges­ta­tion, it becomes clear: every­thing that promis­es a sweet dream for expec­tant moth­ers will be in demand. Mater­ni­ty pil­lows are a sta­ple (and not small) item that helps many in the months lead­ing up to deliv­ery, and after some you can adjust to breast­feed­ing your baby. But is such a pil­low nec­es­sary and how to choose it? Let’s look at this issue in detail.

How to Sleep Better During Pregnancy: What the Experts Advise

How to Sleep Better During Pregnancy: What the Experts Advise

All obste­tri­cian-gyne­col­o­gists, regard­less of coun­tries and per­son­al pref­er­ences, argue that preg­nant women should def­i­nite­ly not sleep on their backs. If in the first trimester this is per­mis­si­ble — pro­vid­ed that you feel nor­mal, then in the sec­ond you need to start to wean, and from 20–22 weeks you def­i­nite­ly give up this habit.

Sleep­ing on your back, and just lying hor­i­zon­tal­ly, is harm­ful for expec­tant moth­ers. This threat­ens with the syn­drome of the hol­low artery, which sup­plies blood to the child: due to the pres­sure of the uterus in the supine posi­tion, it is com­pressed, and the blood flow stops. In addi­tion, the uterus itself with amni­ot­ic flu­id and the baby press­es with its entire mass on the spinal col­umn and low­er back mus­cles — and dur­ing preg­nan­cy they already hurt (why and what to do with them, we told in a sep­a­rate arti­cle).

Fact!

Stud­ies by the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of Obste­tri­cians and Gyne­col­o­gists prove that when sleep­ing on your back for peri­ods of 28 weeks or more, the risk of fetal death is dou­bled.

Even just reclin­ing at such times is some­times not easy, for exam­ple, in a chair at the den­tist, expec­tant moth­ers may begin to feel dizzy if the back is tilt­ed too low. This is a sig­nal that the vena cava is being clamped. You need to get up and walk around, and warn the doc­tor that it is extreme­ly harm­ful for you to sit like that.

Do I need to wor­ry if you inad­ver­tent­ly roll over onto your back in a dream? You will not always be able to con­trol your­self, but the body itself will try to wake you up — the brain will respond to a decrease in oxy­gen lev­els. But it’s def­i­nite­ly not worth it to specif­i­cal­ly fit on your back more com­fort­ably.

Fact!

The opti­mal posi­tion for sleep­ing dur­ing preg­nan­cy is on your side with a bent knee (or two). Many moms-to-be say that bend­ing the knees improves com­fort by plac­ing less stress on the pelvic joints. In addi­tion, it is eas­i­er for the heart to work when sleep­ing on its side: the uterus does not put pres­sure on the ves­sels through which blood is deliv­ered to the feet and back.

Some experts spec­i­fy: it is bet­ter for preg­nant women to sleep on the left side, and not on the right, so that the liv­er does not press on the uterus. This is a large and mas­sive inter­nal organ weigh­ing about one and a half kilo­grams, so with­out such pres­sure the uterus is real­ly eas­i­er.

In addi­tion, it has been proven that it is bet­ter for non-preg­nant women to sleep on their left side more often: this improves blood cir­cu­la­tion through­out the body, and is espe­cial­ly ben­e­fi­cial for the kid­neys.

How do pregnancy pillows help?

Sci­en­tists com­pared the load dur­ing child­bear­ing with a long marathon, and such that not every healthy adult can with­stand. The heart, blood ves­sels, kid­neys, joints, liv­er, lungs — almost all organs have to work with seri­ous stress. Pain in the mus­cles and lig­a­ments, cramps, heart­burn and the urge to go to the toi­let at the same time pre­vent you from ful­ly rest­ing at least at night. If you add to this pain from uter­ine dis­ten­sion, pelvic pain and mus­cle ten­sion, it becomes clear: expec­tant moth­ers need help to get enough sleep.

Fact!

And it is real­ly impor­tant for moms to sleep: inde­pen­dent­ly of each oth­er, Chi­nese and Amer­i­can sci­en­tists have proven that with sleep dis­or­ders in preg­nant women, the risk of ges­ta­tion­al dia­betes increas­es. If in gen­er­al you man­age to sleep less than 5 hours a day, then the risk of ill­ness ris­es sharply.

But since sleep­ing pills and pain med­ica­tions are only pre­scribed as a last resort, you can help your­self by improv­ing your com­fort in bed. This is exact­ly what preg­nan­cy pil­lows promise, reliev­ing pain, burn­ing in the esoph­a­gus, leg cramps. An addi­tion­al option for those who are afraid of acci­den­tal­ly rolling over onto their back: pil­lows help pre­vent such rollovers.

Of course, if you already sleep well, then you don’t need such an acces­so­ry. But if there are prob­lems with sleep, then you can choose a pil­low to your lik­ing. How?

What are pregnancy pillows and how to choose them?

What are pregnancy pillows and how to choose them?

Alas, with these pil­lows every­thing is the same as with the rest: you can under­stand exact­ly whether the shape and stuff­ing will suit you only after sleep­ing. But you can look at the dif­fer­ent types. Here’s what they are:

    C‑shape, pillow to support your back or stomach — depending on how you lie down. It supports the legs well in a parallel position, which reduces pressure on the hip joints and pubic joint. In addition, it helps to align the position of the head, so as not to twist the neck in a dream
    U‑shape: this pillow will support your back, tummy and neck at once. It also helps the hip joints
    Wedge-shaped pillows with a concise shape are good if the house is hot. They are small but elastic, and are needed to support only one area of ​​​​the body — the abdomen, back, or “upper” leg. In addition, they should be used if you tend to roll over on your back in your sleep — such a pillow will keep you

There are also “amor­phous” pil­lows, long, filled cylin­ders that you can bend and flat­ten how­ev­er you like.

Pil­lows also have dif­fer­ent fillers: inside there can be poly­ester fiber, nat­ur­al mate­ri­als (for exam­ple, buck­wheat), or a foam base. The fill­ing will deter­mine the rigid­i­ty of the pil­low and the preser­va­tion of its shape dur­ing sleep.

Life hack!

Before buy­ing a pil­low for sleep, remem­ber in what posi­tion you sleep most often, how often you toss and turn from side to side and whether you need blan­kets.

Is it possible to sleep without a special pillow for pregnant women?

Of course you can: this is a recent inven­tion, with­out which women have man­aged for cen­turies. How­ev­er, young moth­ers who have cho­sen a pil­low for them­selves more often say that it has become more con­ve­nient to sleep with it — and then it is con­ve­nient to feed the baby on it.

To under­stand if you need a preg­nan­cy pil­low and whether it will improve your sleep, try its imi­ta­tion: roll two blan­kets into a long roll or place one pil­low between your knees, the oth­er under your stom­ach or behind your back. If sleep has become bet­ter, you should still think about a spe­cial pil­low: it is eas­i­er to change your posi­tion in your sleep with it if you want to turn to anoth­er side. Well, to sleep even bet­ter, read our tips for expec­tant moth­ers in the arti­cle “Insom­nia dur­ing preg­nan­cy: a check­list of caus­es and what to do.”

Typ­i­cal sleep posi­tions in preg­nant women. / O’Brien LM, War­land J. // Ear­ly Hum Dev. - June 2014 - 90(6)

Mater­nal sleep posi­tion: what do we know where do we go? / O’Brien LM, War­land J. // B.M.C. Preg­nan­cy Child­birth - 2015 - fif­teen

By Yraa

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