By Dr. Amelia Bailey, Ob/Gyn
As an Ob-Gyn in the third trimester of my second pregnancy, I am keenly aware of the many changes the female body undergoes while doing the very important work of growing a new life. Hormones surge, ligaments and skin stretch, and bones shift to accommodate your little one, who starts off as one cell and becomes trillions of cells by birth. Momentous, certainly. But it also sounds uncomfortable, right? It is. So what can we do to make sure these nine months are more joy than pain while nurturing our future astrophysicists? One of the most important steps is ensuring adequate nightly amounts of peaceful sleep in spite of our frequent bathroom visits.
Dr. Amelia Bailey, who is currently pregnant, came up with a DreamCell™ configuration for expectant mothers
On becoming a side sleeper
During your first trimester, you can sleep the same way you always have, even if you sleep on your stomach or back. Second trimester, though, we have to start making adjustments to improve comfort. I encourage side sleeping, a position that maximizes blood flow to the baby.
How Dr. Bailey rearranged her DreamCell™ springs
I bought my Reverie Dream Sleep System a couple years ago, and have had it for both pregnancies. It features a mattress that can be switched up to accommodate life changes.
This allowed me to develop my own personal DreamCell configuration that provides support for our beautifully enlarging bellies in a side-sleeping position (see image). Because the pink (softest) foam cells are in a line down the center, your body will more naturally stay on its side once you lie down in that position. You will notice that there are blue coils in the area where your tummy will rest to provide additional support there. To view a chart of the full configuration, click here.
Why a power adjustable bed can help
Because my Reverie bed has a power adjustable bed base, I can also adjust the head and foot heights to provide the support I need. The foot of my bed is completely flat, which keeps my back comfortable, while the head of my bed is almost 15 degrees (I go to the Anti-Snore position, then lower the head for 1-2 seconds). This just happens to be the arrangement that is most comfortable for me, but you should play around with the heights and find what works best for you. During your third trimester, you can use the same cell configuration and adjustment tricks but may need to reposition the head and foot heights to increase comfort levels. There are not a lot of studies that show a safe intensity of massage during pregnancy, so I play it safe and avoid use of the massage function on my bed until after baby is born.
Let’s talk pillows and linens
Many women feel warmer during pregnancy, so using bed sheets in natural, breathable fibers or sleeping with a fan may improve your sleep. I also use a large U-shaped body pillow that stretches to below my knees in front and back. This pillow provides support between my knees, under my tummy, and beneath my head while acting as a posterior barrier to prevent me from rolling onto my back. If you are a natural side sleeper, you may only need a one-sided pillow such as the Cool Down or Sweet Zone™ latex pillow under your head and the adjustable Sweet Slumber adjustable pillow between your knees. Look for pillows that meet your specific needs.
Rest, rest and more rest
Sleep is paramount during pregnancy to support maternal and fetal well-being and development. Getting comfortable may require trial and error as well as frequent changes while your body grows to house your little one, but it is worth the effort. A focus on resting while you are pregnant will pay great dividends during the upcoming nighttime feeding and snuggle sessions that you are about to have. Good luck; I will be in the same boat!
Pregnant? New parent or have small kids? Tired? Get tips and info on our special site for exhausted moms.
Ready to start sleeping better?
Dr. Amelia P. Bailey is a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility (REI) specialist in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the mom of two young children and currently serves on Reverie’s Advisory Board.