Pillow talk

At the Baby Show, one of the many things that made us laugh was the maternity pillows. For some reason, the idea of curling up with a giant sausage seemed ridiculous. I was surprised firstly that all the pillowcases we saw seemed to be a polyester mix – so you’d be curling up with a synthetic sausage. Clamminess central! Also, they were rather expensive for what is essentially several smaller pillows sewn together – the one below from Kiddicare is £40. Most of all, they just seemed rather pointless… just one of the numerous ways the maternity industry tries to cash in. And before the Baby Show we’d made solemn vows not to be taken in by any pointless things such as nappy bins (what’s wrong with a bin?)

However, that was nearly three months ago and I was still sleeping as normal, unaided by anything except my regular pillow which remained firmly positioned below my head. Back then it felt as if the day I’d need more than the one pillow would never dawn!

One thing I did try and train myself to do early on was sleep on my side rather than my back. Apparently, sleeping on your back while pregnant can compress major blood vessels and affect your circulation, particularly after the 16-week mark. Babycentre also notes it can increase the likelihood of backache and can contribute to low blood pressure. Although people I’ve mentioned this to tend to laugh and say something about how on earth pregnant women coped in ye olden days, I’m not prepared to lie around (on my back) to find out!

Interestingly, research suggests you should sleep on your left rather than your right side. Lying on the left reduces pressure on the vena cava, the pair of large veins carrying blood through the body. And scarily enough, a 2011 study appears to suggest that pregnant women who sleep on their right side or back have an increased risk of stillbirth. The NHS reports that “these observations are plausible, but this small study has several limitations and can only show an association between sleeping position and stillbirth. It cannot conclusively prove that a woman’s sleeping position affects the risk of stillbirth.” Nevertheless, when I wake up on my back, thoughts like that are enough to get me rolling over in a hurry.

As for the pillow situation, in the past month or so my bump has grown to basketball-sized proportions, and getting comfortable in bed has become less straightforward. I have so far invited one extra pillow into our bed, which I place between my knees and cushion the bump. Without a pillow under my tummy, I can feel the baby kind of sinking towards my side and the rolls and kicks become uncomfortable – probably because it’s getting a bit squashed! Time will tell if I’ll need two or more pillows. I imagine that it might be helpful to eventually have something cushioning my back as well.

Speaking of pointless pillows, don’t get me started on breastfeeding ones, aka glorified funny-shaped sofa cushions. How ever did they cope in ye olden days…

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