How to Lie Comfortably When You're Pregnant
Most women that I treat have mainly sedentary jobs, which doesn't help for comfort nor preventing strains in pregnancy. A good balance of the right kind of movement along with deep rest is crucial for pregnancy wellness.
It doesn't matter which position you choose to be in- whether on your side, back, or even front (yes it is possible to be on your front in pregnancy!). There are 3 principles I suggest in all positions: alignment, yielding and cocooning.
When you lie down to rest, make sure you are well aligned so you can prevent overstraining the ligaments in the pelvis or neck which are more amenable in pregnancy.
In yoga, there's a concept of yielding, which I talk about in relation to rest. It's where you really let go of tension in your body, and melt with the surface that's holding you. It creates a feeling of trust and surrender. It's a way of letting the earth hold you and support you. It's a subtle thing, but a way of nurturing so that you can nurture yourself and your baby. Once you find good alignment in a position, let yourself yield.
Cocooning is the ability to feel safe and protected.Caterpillars have a silk cocoon around them whilst they transform into butterflies. It's the little things that help to feel cocooned - quiet, tactile fabrics, a comforting blanket. There's a stark difference between lying on a hard bed compared with nestling into a cosy surface. When you cocoon you allow your mind to go still, allowing rest in the body as well as the mind. Women are sensory so ensuring the senses are considered gives feelings of pleasure in the body which are important for releasing happy hormones such as oxytocin.
Listen to your body
It's important to find positions that help you to lie well. I have a bug bear about the pregnancy book advice to lie on the left side in pregnancy- clients often interpret this as sleeping on the right or on the back is wrong. In actual fact it's better to avoid putting too much pressure on one area of the body- 9 months of sleeping on one side will only cause issues that will then require you coming to see an osteopath like me for treatment!
Some of the positions will suits for shorter times or naps. Others will be more comfortable for longer sleeps. Listen to your own body as it will give you signals for when you need to shift position.
It's well worth taking a couple of minutes to stretch the body before getting into bed, so you can let go of any tension that has accumulated in the day. This also helps to settle the mind and prepare for rest.
There are many pregnancy pillows on the market. Lately I have been testing the bbhugme pillow which was designed by three pregnancy chiropractors in Norway. I have been so impressed with it for both pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby development. As a breastfeeding pillow it can be curled all around your body, creating a stable shelf to place the baby on so you can relax your upper body. In the clinic, we use a bean-bag as a safe seat for babies, and the pillow can be used in a similar way. I have also found it helpful as a prop when I sit on the floor at my laptop.
The bbhugme is made of sumptuous bamboo which is eco-friendly, supersoft and in graceful colours- ticking my requirements of feeding the senses for good cocooning.
It could also be used for older children for imaginative play such as making a den ( I am often suggesting that families keep some furniture-free space in their home so the kids can create with piles of pillows and bolsters).
Lying on the side
Stack the hips and shoulders on top of one another so that the spine is straight but relaxed. Use a pregnancy pillow length ways so you can support beneath the breasts, bump and between the knees. Alternatively you can use the pillow just between the knees.
Lying on the back
I find that some women are still comfortable to lie on their back in pregnancy for short periods of time. If this is the case for you, it's worth using a pregnancy pillow beneath the knees. This helps to reduce the curve of the lower back and prevent straining the ligaments in this part of the body. Using a pillow beneath the ankles can help to reduce swelling.
Lying on the front
Many women are used to sleeping on their fronts and can find it difficult to get used to side-sleeping in pregnancy. When I first qualified, I worked in a wonderful clinic that had pregnancy couches, with hammocks which allowed a woman to lie on her front and have her bump supported. Women would literally race into the room to be able to lie on their front and relieve their body of the weight of the bump. I now pregnancy pillows in treatment to be able to easily work on a client's back and have also given this advice for homecare. A firm and supportive pillow like the bbhugme can be tied end-to-end to create a large doughnut shape, that the bump can comfortably rest in.
So to summarise- check your alignment and make sure you are yielding and cocooning, and you will make the most of your rest to be as comfortable as possible.