Pregnancy is full of new experiences, changes, and often discomfort. As your body grows and adapts to support the tiny human developing inside of you, aches, pains, and sleep troubles frequently come along for the ride.
If you’ve had difficulty getting comfortable and resting well during your pregnancy, you may be wondering if using a weighted blanket could help provide some relief.
While weighted blankets have become popular for reducing anxiety and promoting better sleep in the general public, there are some important considerations for expectant moms.
The added weight may seem comforting at first, but could potentially cause issues as your pregnancy progresses. We’ll explore the pros and cons of using a weighted blanket while pregnant so you can make the best decision for your own health and comfort.
No two pregnancies are exactly alike, so you’ll need to think about your own individual circumstances and needs. Let’s weigh the evidence (pun intended!) to help you determine if a weighted blanket should take up residence in your bed or if you’d be better off without one for now.
Pregnancy and Weighted Blankets
- Using a weighted blanket during pregnancy is generally safe for most women, but it’s important to consult with your doctor first.
- When choosing a weighted blanket for pregnancy, look for one that is no more than 10% of your pre-pregnancy body weight and evenly distributed across the bed.
- Pregnant women with certain medical conditions, such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, should consult with their doctor before using a weighted blanket.
Weighted Blankets: What You Need To Know
Weighted blankets are blankets that are filled with materials such as glass beads, sand, or synthetic materials to add weight to the blanket. The added weight is meant to provide a calming and comforting effect to the user, helping them to relax and sleep better.
When choosing a weighted blanket, it is important to choose one that is evenly distributed. This means that the weight is spread out evenly across the blanket, so that no one area is too heavy or too light. This helps to ensure that the blanket is comfortable to use and does not cause any discomfort or pain.
Some weighted blankets are made of cotton, which is a breathable and comfortable material that is ideal for use in a cooling weighted blanket. Other blankets may be made of synthetic materials, which can be less breathable and less comfortable to use.
Weighted Blankets and Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, you know how difficult it can be to get comfortable and sleep well. Many women experience changes in their sleep patterns during pregnancy, and some may find it hard to relax and fall asleep. One solution that has gained popularity in recent years is the use of a weighted blanket.
But what about using a weighted blanket during pregnancy? Is it safe for you and your unborn baby?
While there aren’t any studies specifically on the use of weighted blankets during pregnancy, most experts agree that it is generally safe for pregnant women to use them.
The added weight of a weighted blanket is not significantly different from carrying around a toddler or having a medium-sized dog lay on your belly.
Your baby is also more protected in the womb than you might think, so the weight of the blanket is unlikely to cause any harm. However, you need to use the blanket with care and make sure it is not too heavy or uncomfortable.
If you’re in your third trimester of pregnancy, you may experience hormonal changes that can lead to discomfort, including nausea and swelling.
A weighted blanket can help alleviate some of these symptoms by providing a comforting and calming sensation. It can also help relieve pressure on your stomach, making it easier to breathe and sleep.
Benefits of Using Weighted Blankets During Pregnancy
The good news is that many pregnant women have found weighted blankets to be a helpful tool for reducing anxiety, stress, and sleeplessness during pregnancy. Here are some benefits of using a weighted blanket during pregnancy:
Reduce Anxiety and Stress
Pregnancy can be a stressful time, and many women experience anxiety and stress during this period. Using a weighted blanket can help reduce these feelings.
The deep pressure stimulation (DPS) provided by a weighted blanket can help to calm the autonomic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which can lower your heart rate and promote relaxation.
Improve Sleep Quality
Sleep is essential during pregnancy, but it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep when you’re pregnant. A weighted blanket can help improve sleep quality by providing gentle pressure that can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. The DPS provided by a weighted blanket can also stimulate the release of mood-boosting hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin, which can help you feel more relaxed and sleep better.
Provide Comfort and Relaxation
Weighted blankets provide a sense of comfort and relaxation that can be especially helpful during pregnancy. The gentle pressure of the blanket can help you feel grounded and secure, which can reduce feelings of restlessness and anxiety.
The grounded feeling that a weighted blanket provides can also be beneficial during pregnancy. The added weight of the blanket can make you feel more connected to your body, which can help you feel more in control and centered during this period of change.
Potential Risks and Precautions
When considering using a weighted blanket during pregnancy, it is important to be aware of potential risks and take precautions to ensure your safety and comfort.
One of the main concerns with using a weighted blanket during pregnancy is the risk of overheating. The added weight of the blanket can cause you to feel hotter than usual, which can be uncomfortable and even dangerous for both you and your baby. To avoid overheating, look for a weighted blanket made from breathable and cooling materials, and avoid using it in conjunction with other heavy bedding or clothing.
Another potential risk is that the weight of the blanket may impede circulation or cause aches and pains, especially if you are already experiencing discomfort due to pregnancy-related aches and pains. If you experience any discomfort or pain while using a weighted blanket, stop using it immediately and consult with your healthcare provider.
It is also important to consider your body weight when choosing a weighted blanket. As a general rule, the blanket should weigh no more than 10% of your body weight. Using a blanket that is too heavy can put unnecessary strain on your body and cause discomfort or pain.
If you are a hot sleeper or experience night sweats, you may want to avoid using a weighted blanket altogether, as it can exacerbate these issues and make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
When to Avoid Using a Weighted Blanket During Pregnancy
There are certain situations and pregnancy complications where experts recommend avoiding weighted blankets completely. Here are some circumstances where weighted blankets are typically advised against during the expectant period:
- High Risk Pregnancy – If you have been classified as a high risk pregnancy due to conditions like hypertension, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, etc., your doctor will most likely recommend against using a weighted blanket. The extra weight could exacerbate medical issues or increase strain on your body.
- Doctor Advises Against Use – You should always consult your physician before introducing a weighted blanket during pregnancy. If they advise against use for any medical reason, follow their guidance.
- Significant Swelling – As your body retains more fluid in pregnancy, swelling in the hands, feet and ankles is common. However, if you experience sudden or excessive swelling, the additional weight from a blanket could be problematic.
- Overheating – Some women naturally run hotter during pregnancy, and weighted blankets trap body heat. If you are already getting overheated at night, they could increase risk of dangerously high body temperature.
- Larger Abdomen in Late Pregnancy – When your bump is very pronounced in the third trimester, having weight on top of your abdomen can cause discomfort or issues with breathing and circulation. Avoid weighted blanket use at this point.
- Any Negative Symptoms – If you notice the weighted blanket seems to aggravate other conditions like acid reflux, sciatica pain, etc., discontinue use. Listen to any signals that show your body is responding poorly.
The key is being very in tune with your individual symptoms and having open communication with your OB-GYN. Never ignore warning signs that indicate weighted blankets are causing problems in your unique pregnancy.
Choosing the Right Weighted Blanket for Pregnancy
When it comes to choosing the right weighted blanket for pregnancy, there are a few things to keep in mind. A pregnancy blanket is designed to provide a natural and comfortable hug that can help soothe muscles and promote relaxation. The weight of the blanket is distributed evenly across your body, which can help reduce anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness during pregnancy.
When selecting a weighted blanket, consider the following factors:
- Weight: The weight of the blanket should be between 5% and 10% of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, a blanket that weighs between 7.5 and 15 pounds would be appropriate.
- Size: Choose a blanket that is large enough to cover your body comfortably. A blanket that is too small may not provide the full benefits of deep pressure stimulation.
- Material: Look for a blanket made from breathable and hypoallergenic materials. Natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, and linen are great options.
- Fill: Some weighted blankets are filled with grains like rice or corn, while others are filled with glass beads or poly pellets. Grains can be a good option for those who prefer a more natural fill, but they may not be as durable as other fill materials.
Alternative Products to Help with Pregnancy Discomfort
If you decide a weighted blanket is not the right option during your pregnancy, there are several other products designed to aid with some of the common aches, pains, and sleep issues expecting mothers face:
- Pregnancy Pillows – Specialty pregnancy pillows provide extra support for your bump and take pressure off your back, hips, and joints as you sleep. There are many ergonomic shapes like the C-shape or U-shape to help you get comfortable.
- Massagers – Portable massagers with heat, vibration, and Shiatsu massage nodes can relax muscles and relieve pain from pregnancy-induced sciatica, leg cramps, backaches and more. Massage therapy increases circulation as well.
- Prenatal Cradles – These support devices are worn around the belly to help lift and distribute the weight of your bump, alleviating strain on the pelvis and back. Less pressure and alignment support may mean less pain.
- Maternity Belts – Wearable maternity belts, braces, and support bands provide adjustable abdominal support during activity or exercise to prevent too much midsection expansion. This limits pain, fatigue and injuries.
- Hot/Cold Therapy – Heating pads or ice packs applied to tender areas can dull pregnancy aches and pains. Use heat for sore muscles and cold for inflammation. Consult your doctor on proper use.
The goal of these products is to provide comfort, support healing, facilitate sleep, and reduce anxiety. Like with weighted blankets, discuss trying any new aids with your OB-GYN first to make sure they are pregnancy safe and right for you.
Comfort and Safety Above All: Final Thoughts About Pregnancy and Weighted Blankets
As we’ve explored, weighted blankets come with both potential benefits and risks during pregnancy. For some women, the gentle pressure and anxiety-reducing qualities can aid restful sleep and relaxation in a time of great physical change and mental stress.
However, weighted blankets could also pose problems like restricted movement, improper weight distribution, and overheating as your pregnancy advances.
The best approach is to openly communicate with your doctor so you can make the most informed decision together about weighted blanket use during your pregnancy.
Evaluate your personal sleep environment, medical needs, stage of pregnancy, and how your body responds to testing a weighted blanket for short periods. The goal is promoting healthy, high-quality sleep critical for you and baby. But comfort and safety should always be the top priorities. If a weighted blanket causes any pain or worsens other symptoms, discontinue use immediately.
Give yourself permission to modify your sleep routine as your pregnancy progresses if needed. Focus on what makes you feel best and supports a happy, low-stress pregnancy.