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Anyone who has survived the joys of pregnancy will know the value of a good maternity pillow. The maternity pillow was designed to help alleviate the comfort and medical issues a pregnant woman faces while attempting to get a good night's sleep. As a pregnancy progresses, the increasing weight of the baby and uterus poses new problems to the mother.
By the second trimester, it is increasingly difficult for the mother to sleep on her side and back for several reasons. Sleeping on one's back can not only be uncomfortable, but can be medically unsafe as well. This position puts the full weight of the uterus on a woman's back, intestines, and inferior vena cava, possibly resulting in backaches, hemorrhoids, poor digestion, swelling of the extremities, reduced circulation, breathing difficulties, and even a drop in blood pressure. Many a pregnant woman has tossed and turned in the search for the perfect positioning of pillows that will allow them adequate comfort and support. One trip to the bathroom sends the system into disarray, which leads to the next series of adjustments and maneuvers to get comfortable — resulting in less sleep and a perturbed sleeping partner.
Experts agree that the best position for a pregnant woman to sleep in is on her left side, which allows for the best circulation. Before the advent of the maternity pillow, pregnant women were forced to make do with plain old bed pillows. Today, there is a wide range of products available that support the belly and lower back, while helping to align the hips, all with the goal of alleviating the stress of pregnancy — if only for a few hours at night. Many products may easily be converted into nursing pillows after the baby is born.
There are four general types of maternity pillow:
- The maternity pillow: This consists of two pillows attached with Velcro. This type of pillow supports both the belly and the lower back simultaneously while the mother sleeps between the pillows.
- The wedge: This maternity pillow is wedged under the belly to provide simple support.
- The full-length body pillow: These are around five feet long and support the back, belly, and knees. These pillows are an affordable option since they may be purchased at almost any store that sells bedding.
- The Bean: This maternity pillow is made in the shape of a kidney bean so that it wraps from under the belly to between the knees.
A maternity pillow makes a great gift for any sleep deprived mom-to-be — or her equally sleep deprived husband.