Pregnancy is an amazing time in a woman’s life. Although it comes with some challenges, it is also a time of great joy and anticipation of a tiny human growing inside you.
One of the challenges that many pregnant women face is getting a good night’s sleep. This can be difficult due to the hormonal changes in the body, as well as the anxiety that comes with being responsible for another life.
But a really good night’s sleep, one of those where you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to take on the world - is extremely important, especially during pregnancy.
Quality sleep can boost the immune system, strengthen heart health, increase productivity, improve memory and aid the nervous system, to name just a few of its numerous advantages.
Many women turn to weighted blankets in an effort to get some relief from sleepless nights during pregnancy. But are weighted blankets safe when you’re expecting?
How Pregnancy Affects Sleep?
Pregnancy can interfere with quality sleep in numerous ways, particularly towards the second and third trimesters. As women’s bodies work to protect and nurture the developing baby, increased heart rate and shortness of breath can make it more difficult to relax when lying down and subsequently falling asleep.
Due to their ever-growing bellies, many pregnant women also experience backaches and leg cramps, making it tough to find a comfortable sleeping position.
Pregnancy can also lead to insomnia which is often caused by hormonal changes, anxiety about the baby, back pain, and frequent trips to the bathroom.
Another way pregnancy can disrupt your sleep is by causing frequent nighttime awakenings. This is usually due to pain from conditions like backaches or leg cramps, or because you have to go to the bathroom more often than usual.
Some women might also face nightmares and strange dreams (also called night terrors) which are most commonly caused by anxiety about the baby and impending motherhood responsibilities.
Is It Safe to Use a Weighted Blanket During Pregnancy?
A weighted blanket is a heavy quilt with pockets typically filled with materials such as sand, plastic weights, steel balls or micro-glass beads, distributed evenly throughout the quilt.
A weighted blanket is perfectly safe to use when expecting. Make sure to choose a blanket that weighs around 10% of your body weight so you don’t put pressure on your bump or feel uncomfortable while sleeping.
Many pregnant women who use weighted blankets describe feeling as if they are being wrapped in a cocoon. If you have any concerns whatsoever, be sure to consult with your doctor before using.
Health Benefits of Using a Weighted Blanket When Pregnant
Weighted blankets can offer many benefits to pregnant women who are looking for ways to reduce stress and promote better sleep, there’s no reason why pregnant women shouldn’t reap the rewards. Here are five of the best health benefits of using a weight blanket during pregnancy.
A common side effect of pregnancy is swelling of the legs and hands. A quality weighted blanket can help to reduce inflammation and swelling thanks to the gentle, even pressure it exerts on the body as you sleep. Think peaceful sighs and no more achy, swollen feet – pure bliss.
Alleviate Anxiety and Stress
For first-time mothers especially, the fear of the unknown, increased hormone production, worrying about the baby’s health, and the anticipation of motherhood can cause anxiety and stress levels to rise.
Many pregnant women have reported that weighted blankets help to alleviate these feelings, and this is no coincidence. The science behind it comes from something called Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS) Therapy.
The gentle pressure of a weighted blanket is proven to stimulate the body’s serotonin production, due to the brain associating this feeling with being hugged, cuddled, and comforted.
Serotonin is a chemical found in the body that helps with relaxation and melatonin production (a sleep hormone), helping to soothe your racing thoughts, promote peaceful sleep, slow down your breathing, and allowing you to find rest and calm.
Provides Relief from Restless Legs Syndrome
Nearly a third of pregnant women experience restless legs syndrome (RLS) during pregnancy. This condition can affect sleep quality, as the “itchy” or “pulling” sensation associated with it triggers an overwhelming urge to move your legs, often causing the sleeper to wake up in the middle of the night.
Whilst there are medicines used to treat restless legs syndrome, weighted blankets help, too.
Promotes Healthy Sleep Pattern
Pregnant women who use weighted blankets often report feeling more rested when they wake up in the morning. This is because weighted blankets help reduce tossing and turning throughout the night by providing a sense of security and comfort. Additionally, weighted blankets are excellent at blocking out light and noise, two other common culprits of poor sleep quality.
What Are the Risks Involved?
Weighted blankets are perfectly safe to use during pregnancy as long as they are within the recommended weight limit. Since these weighted products generally weigh 10% of your overall weight, there are no definite risks.
However, there is no official data that shows what could happen if you use it daily throughout your entire pregnancy. It's always best to consult with your doctor before using a weighted blanket during pregnancy. Your doctor may advise you to use a lighter blanket than the one you intended to purchase after looking at your body weight.
If you have sleep apnea or other breathing issues, it’s advised to not use a weighted blanket.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Deep Pressure Touch therapy (DPT) helps during pregnancy?
This type of therapy works based on deep pressure touch stimulation. This releases endorphins which help in calming down the nervous system and inducing better pregnancy sleep.
The weighted blankets work with the same principle, making them a natural relaxation tool.
Does a weighted blanket reduce cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone that is released whenever you feel under stress or fear. The release of this stress hormone will cause your body to experience the fight or flight response which can affect you in many ways.
It increases heart rate and blood pressure, dilates pupils and makes muscles tense up, which further affects your ability to sleep well at night.
You can get a better connection to your body and surroundings by using a weighted blanket, thanks to the added weight. Cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the body may be reduced via this grounding method, relieving restlessness and anxiety and reducing mood swings.
What are cooling weighted blankets?
Weighted blankets also come in extra light material that is designed specifically for people who are hot sleepers. Unlike a layered fabric, a cooling weighted blanket will help you stay cool throughout the night – no night sweats and hot flashes!
Furthermore, since they are lighter, there will be no restriction in your body's blood flow.
Is there any connection between serotonin and sleep during pregnancy?
A critical parameter of good sleep is a balance of the right mix of serotonin and progesterone. Since progesterone production level is generally high in the first trimester, pregnant women may not feel sleep problems in this period.
Now, serotonin levels drop during pregnancy, which can disrupt sleep – a must-have for a healthy pregnancy.
When you use weighted blankets during nighttime sleep, this hormone is produced more and gets converted to melatonin. And melatonin is the ultimate sleep hormone responsible for alleviating restlessness and unwanted drowsiness.
What's the right position to combat sleep problems during pregnancy?
As any pregnant woman knows, sleep in the third trimester is hard to come by. Due to the increase in the fetus size, it gets increasingly more difficult to find a comfortable position.
In such cases, swapping out your usual night-time position might help: for instance, if you usually sleep on your right side, try shifting to the left for a better night's sleep. In fact, some doctors will suggest you do so. But why?
Sleeping on your left side keeps the uterus away from your liver, which is located on the right side of your abdomen. Since the liver is a large organ, this method alleviates the discomfort.
Our Weighted Blanket Recommendations
When choosing the right weighted blanket during pregnancy, one thing to bear in mind is exactly how heavy you want your blanket to be; sleep experts recommend choosing a blanket that is roughly 10% of a person’s body weight, for maximum comfort. When it comes to future mamas, doctors advise that this calculation should be based on pre-pregnancy weight, as opposed to increased pregnancy weight.
With a wide-ranging choice of 10lb, 15lb, 20lb, or 35lb throws in three beautiful, tranquil colors including off-white, purple haze, and cloud grey, Sunday Citizen has you covered. Our weighted blankets are made from a uniquely soft and cozy fabric that will leave you as snug as a pregnant bug in a rug. With holistic crystal energy, including naturally soothing amethyst, clear quartz for healing, and rose quartz to promote feelings of harmony, trust, and love, get set for the most restorative sleep of your life.