Sleep is everyone’s craving. Expectant mothers are not left behind. However, sometimes, the restlessness and sleeplessness that comes with pregnancy far outweigh the joy and anxiety of expecting a new baby. If you are an expectant mother, you must have been searching around how to get quality sleep. One of the options that Google search gives you as a remedy to quality sleep during pregnancy is sleeping under a weighted blanket. But do you know the benefits and drawbacks of a weighted blanket during pregnancy? I bet that is the reason you are reading this post. Let’s start by evaluating sleep and pregnancy.
Importance of sleep during pregnancy
Quality sleep is so important to pregnant mothers as they have to “sleep for two”. Pregnant women during the first trimester feel sleepy all the time because they are tired and lazy most of the time. This is mostly contributed by excessive production of progesterone which is responsible for excessive sleepiness.
Insomnia and restlessness at night kick in during the second trimester through to the last trimester for pregnant women. This is largely contributed by a lack of proper sleep position. Getting a perfect sleep position becomes increasingly difficult since the size of the tummy is in a constant increase daily. Lack of a perfect sleep position is also contributed by other external factors.
According to a 2011 survey on pregnant mothers and their maternal sleep in late pregnancy, it was observed that there is a general decline in sleep, especially during the last trimester. Two-thirds of the respondents said that the lack of sleep is caused by discomfort during pregnancy.
Common causes of difficulty in sleeping during pregnancy
Pregnant mothers have a hard time finding a perfect sleep position as their little bump grows inside their tummy. First-time moms are especially the most affected. Most of the time they unconsciously worry about rolling over while asleep and subsequently pressing their unborn baby. This worry eats up into their sleep time, hence catching little or no sleep.
Another challenge that mothers face is switching over positions in their late pregnancies.
Heartburn, also called acid indigestion is a burning sensation from the esophagus. It is often caused by a reflux of substances from the stomach. This is common to pregnant women, especially in their second or third trimester.
The effect is worsened when one lies down on their back or on their side. Since this is mostly the sleep positions that pregnant mothers adopt during their late pregnancies, it becomes hard to get quality sleep.
Shortness of breath
Pregnant women often breathe as though they are short of air. As the baby bump grows within the mother and the mother is slowly getting weight, breathing becomes a toll order. The reason behind this is because as the uterus expands to take more space, the diaphragm space is limited hence reducing the volume of the respiratory organ. This subsequently leads to a lack of sufficient sleep at night.
Stress and anxiety
Expectant mothers worry too much about everything. To them, their health and the health of their baby bump is a big concern. Changes in physical appearances are enough reason to worry. Delivery pains also make them nervous, as well as worrying about how the unborn baby will be like. Others even worry about how they will be able to balance their motherhood and work.
Hormonal changes also play a big role in their pregnancy period. Small things tend to make them extremely emotional. They tend to overthink on issues that touch on their pregnancy and overly react to other people’s opinions.
The resultant effect is continuous sleeplessness and restlessness at night.
Leg cramps and backache
Expectant women undergo a lot of changes in their body in preparation for the baby. One most significant thing is the additional weight gain. This has a resultant effect of causing leg cramps and back pains. It becomes increasingly difficult for the mothers to get quality sleep.
How to get quality sleep during pregnancy
Quality sleep during pregnancy is achievable. The expectant mothers have solutions within their reach to get the much-needed sleep, especially since they are sleeping ‘for two’. This is possible through the following suggestions.
Know the right position
Expectant moms are advised to sleep on their side, particularly on the left. This sleep position is comfortable and eases pressure on the abdominal organs. It also allows the free flow of blood to the uterus. The moms should also change the sleep positions frequently to ease tension on the muscles.
As an expectant mom, stop worrying about unconsciously switching to a position that will exert pressure on the unborn baby. It is highly unlikely for you to find yourself sleeping on your stomach. This is because it is painful and uncomfortable.
Use a pillow for extra comfort
Pillows are made to offer extra comfort. It can be used to achieve a particular sleep position and to keep yourself comfortable throughout the night. There are also pillows that have been designed specifically for pregnant women that allow them to sleep in any position comfortably.
Avoid many thoughts
Anxiety worsens your condition and does not offer any solution. As much as it can be so difficult to remain calm, try to avoid worrying so much about everything concerning you and the baby. Ensure that visit the doctor frequently to get advice on any worries you might have. Also, be calm with your family support and hope for the best.
Avoid fluids before bed
Fluids are healthy for the mother and the baby. However, taking too many fluids before bed will increase the urge to urinate in the middle of the night, hence disrupting your sleep. Cut on these fluids some hours before bed to lessen the urge to urinate in the middle of the night.
Use weighted blankets
You must have heard of weighted blankets and their benefits. You could be owning one for other sleep-related conditions. However, a weighted blanket can come in handy during pregnancy and enable you to get much-needed sleep. But what is a weighted blanket, so you ask.
What is a weighted blanket?
Weighted blankets got their name from extra weights that are used to make them. These extra weights are meant to exert pressure on the bodies beneath them causing a calming effect that results to sleep. The weighted blankets are made of normal material like cotton but have weights like plastic poly pellets or glass beads fastened within the outside material. These extra weights use the principle of deep touch pressure (DTP) to exert pressure on the body causing pressure points on the skin to feel like being hugged, hence causing relaxation. The weighted blankets have been made in different sizes ranging from 4 pounds to 25 pounds. The weight of a weighted blanket is recommended according to body size, and each is recommended for different body weights. This is covered exclusively in the guidelines for weighted blankets.
Benefits of using weighted blankets during pregnancy
Weighted blankets provide drug-free therapy for all including children, adults, pregnant mothers are not left behind either. The approach to therapy that weighted blankets offer far outweighs the use of medication, the reason why it has been recommended consistently by therapists and doctors. Some of the benefits of the weighted blankets during pregnancy are discussed in the section below.
Reduce anxiety and stress
During pregnancy, there is an increased hormone level that brings with it anxiety and the fear of unknown. Pregnant mothers tend to be anxious about everything that concerns their pregnancy and the unborn baby. This includes the baby’s future, health, safety, etc.
With extra weight, weighted blankets cause a calming effect that eases stress and anxiety. Many who have used a weighted blanket have reported an improved sleep within a week of using it.
Prevents the need for sleep and anti-stress pills
Most of the expectant mothers resort to the use of anti-stress pills in order to fall asleep at night. However, these pills only serve to accumulate the sleep and make one drowsy during the day. It simply does not induce natural sleep that is full of relaxation and calming sensation. However, a weighted blanket has the advantage of applying a massage-like effect that makes one fall asleep with relaxed body muscles and nerves.
Improves blood circulation
Blood circulation is very important for pregnant women and their unborn babies. To aid proper blood circulation, a good sleep position should be adopting. However, for pregnant mothers, this is often a challenge. Weighted blankets offer enough support and comfort for pregnant mothers to get quality sleep which results in sufficient blood circulation. The nerve relaxation that results from the extra weights from weighted blankets also allows blood to flow freely in the body.
Relaxes muscles and joints
Pregnancy comes with an increase in weight. This has a resultant effect on muscle and joints pain. The extra weight that comes from a weighted blanket has the effect of causing a massage-like feeling on the body. This feeling relaxes the muscles and joints, ensuring that you get a night of quality sleep.
Pregnant women are very sensitive and cautious in their environment. With a protruding belly, anything would appear as a risk to the delicate baby inside the tummy. A weighted blanket gives a comforting tactile stimulation that serves to reduce restlessness and induce a stress-free sleep.
Deep touch pressure
Deep touch pressure (DTP) therapy is a science of gently applying pressure to the body for it to produce more serotonin. Serotonin is a body hormone that helps to induce relaxation.
DTP provides a tactile sensory form in the form of cuddling, hugging and firm stroking. DTP has several benefits to the body which include: better sleep, increased happiness, calming effect, soothing sensation, clearer focus, reduced stress and anxiety and the ability to deal with stressful situations.
Reduce pregnancy swelling
The body of pregnant mothers tends to swell during their 5th month of pregnancy all the way to the end of the pregnancy period. Swelling is caused by excessive production of body fluids and increased blood circulation. It is also contributed by the sedentary lifestyle since many pregnant women become excessively lazy.
The use of a weighted blanket can help relieve this problem in addition to eating food that is rich in potassium. The regular exposure to extra weight from the weighted blankets helps to reduce the inflammation in the body especially on the feet, legs, and hands.
It is drug-free
Pregnant mothers are so sensitive to everything that they come across. In most cases, almost anything with chemicals can cause an allergic reaction to their body. They also become extremely selectively, not only to food that they eat but to everything else that they use. The good thing is that they don’t have to worry about the weighted blanket since they do not have any drug-related items and they hardly cause allergic reactions on their users.
Risks involved with a weighted blanket during pregnancy
Weighted blankets hardly come with any risks. However, like any other tool for therapy, it is often recommended to try them out on a doctor’s recommendation. This is important especially if it’s your first use.
The added weight from the weighted blankets can some times cause increased heat and sweating. With hormonal changes, pregnant women tend to have extreme sweating at night and hot flashes. It is recommended that the weighted blanket should not be used to cover the face and the head. If the sweating persists, taking a lighter blanket can sometimes come in handy, but it, unfortunately, reduces the effectiveness of the weighted blanket.
The weight of a weighted blanket is rarely a concern for those who have used it. As long as proper weight is adopted, which is roughly 10% of the total body weight. But should the weight cause problems like difficulty in breathing or excessive restlessness, simply go for a lighter one or stop using it altogether.
While buying a weighted blanket, take note of what has been used to fill it. Mostly, the material used to fill it can determine how long you can use it and the degree of comfort that you get from it. It also helps you to avoid materials that can easily cause allergy on your body.
Weighted blankets are not recommended for children under the age of two. They may pose a risk of choking and suffocation. Parents who co-sleep with their toddlers should, therefore, avoid the use of weighted blankets.
Getting the right weighted blanket
Getting the right weighted blanket can at times prove to be a challenge. This is because there are so many recommendations and different types have been made. There are also several manufacturers in the market making the process of acquiring one a bit complex. However, you should always ensure that you get the right weight depending on the weight of your body. A general rule is always to get 10% of your body weight. If your body weight is 150 pounds, then the right weighted blanket for you should measure 15 pounds. It is allowed to add up to two extra pounds or to subtract by the same margin. Therefore, your weighted blanket should vary from 13 to 17 pounds depending on your comfort.
Our Recommended Weighted Blanket for Pregnancy
The team at Backtoslumber recommends buying a Quility Premium Weighted Blanket & Removable Cover from Amazon. The blanket is the best as it comes with its own cover and is available for both adults and children. The removable cover is good to add extra warmth. It can be removed during summer when the temperatures are beyond the roof. It will also ensure that your weighted blanket is kept clean, and reduce the number of washing for your weighted blanket per year. This way, your blanket remains intact for a long time. The weighted blanket is also made up of 7 layers to make it strong, intact, and comfortable for use for a long time.