Sleeping while pregnant is difficult for many reasons, but thankfully there are ways to increase your comfort! Keep reading to learn how to sleep with your body supported on a maternity wedge, so you can rest well.
Pregnancy pillow wedge; why use one?
For many women, 26% to be exact, acid reflux hits in the first trimester. By the third trimester, 51% of women are experiencing pregnancy induced acid reflux. One reason this occurs is because of the release of pregnancy hormones. This release causes the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus to not work as well, letting stomach acid escape back into the esophagus. This causes burning and discomfort in the torso.
A maternity wedge for back sleepers
For back sleeping pregnant mamas, sleeping on a triangle wedge pillow can alleviate discomfort from reflux. Inclining the torso decreases the pressure on that sphincter and makes it harder for stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus. Typically, a 7-inch wedge pillow is recommended to combat acid reflux. However, most women find that a 7-inch pillow height is not enough incline to allow for comfortable back sleeping, especially towards the end of pregnancy.
As pregnancy progresses, most mommas need a higher wedge to alleviate the pressure that comes with a sweet growing baby. This is why we recommend a 12-inch maternity wedge for pregnant mothers. This amount of incline elevates the torso enough to alleviate reflux symptoms and support mom's back as baby grows.
In addition, pregnant back sleepers also benefit from sleeping with a knee wedge pillow. Propping the legs on a knee wedge does three things: Improves circulation, decreases feet and leg swelling, and alleviates back pain.
A maternity wedge for side sleepers with reflux
Side sleeping pregnant mommas having reflux symptoms will need an incline pillow with contours. The contours are uniquely designed to support the low back, hips, and belly, all while keeping the torso inclined. The ability to maintain the torso at an incline while on your side, positions the stomach in a way where it is much harder for stomach acid to escape back into the esophagus.
Another benefit of sleeping on a contoured incline pillow wedge is it can relieve hip pain. The loosening of pelvic ligaments, in combination with increased weight gain, can cause hip pain while side sleeping. Sleeping at a slight incline, while allowing the hips to rest on a memory foam wedge, offers relief to the side of the leg.
A side sleeper, non-inclined, pregnancy pillow wedge
A side sleeper wedge is a good option if you are not experiencing acid reflux but are seeking additional support for your belly and back while side sleeping. The additional weight on your front from that sweet baby, can pull on your back at night. This is why sleeping on your side without a side sleeper wedge can be uncomfortable.
A side sleeper wedge is a small wedge designed to support the curve of the waist and the growing belly. It keeps the spine straight by preventing it from curving down towards the bed. It also supports the weight of your belly so there is much less pull on the back muscles. With a side sleeper wedge in place, you ensure that your back muscles and spine are fully supported.
A side sleeper maternity wedge for hip and back pain
For optimal comfort, a leg separator pillow should be used whether you are sleeping on your side with a contoured incline pillow or a side sleeper wedge. Using a leg separator pillow greatly reduces the strain on your back and hips.
The pillow should be supportive enough to keep your top leg parallel to the bed. This usually means it needs to be at least 10 inches tall and filled with a very supportive fiber. It should also be long enough that it runs from your feet all the way past your baby bump. You will want the option to position it under your bump for additional support, if needed.
A pregnancy pillow wedge will help you get rest before the birth of your new baby! Do everything you can to get good sleep now, so you can be ready to take on motherhood!
-Hillary Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy