How to Use a Pregnancy Pillow: A Comprehensive Guide

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
March 1, 2023
Young pregnant woman caressing her belly

Are you tired of being, well, pregnant and tired? You're not alone, as 78 percent of women struggle to get a perfect night's sleep. It's no wonder why you would want to know how to use a pregnancy pillow!

Pregnancy pillows are, quite possibly, one of the simplest solutions to sleep issues throughout pregnancy. They are literally designed to help women get a better night's sleep while they are pregnant, and they can help get rid of any physical pains that you may be experiencing.

So, what are some of the common sleeping issues that women face throughout pregnancy?

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The Challenges of Sleeping Throughout Pregnancy

As you may know if you're pregnant, many pregnant women face various sleeping issues throughout their entire pregnancy. Even if you are very early on in your pregnancy, you may have started to face some of these issues.

Many women suffer from sleeping issues throughout pregnancy, which is why a pregnancy pillow can be a valuable purchase. Knowing how to use a pregnancy pillow is crucial to combating specific pregnancy-related sleeping symptoms.

Common sleeping issues

Several common sleeping issues tend to occur among pregnant women.

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

Symptoms of RLS include creepy, achy, or tingly feelings in the legs. These symptoms may get worse during the night-time, or just before going to bed. You can temporarily relieve these pains by stretching.


Insomnia is incredibly common during pregnancy. It includes trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Women may also struggle with waking up too early or feeling unrefreshed.

Often, insomnia during pregnancy is related to anxiety and stress about labor and delivery, or worry about balancing motherhood with work. This will disturb sleep, along with back pain, nausea, and fetal movements.

Factors to Search for in Pregnancy Pillows

Pregnant Woman Sleeping
Image source: freepik


There are various material options out there when it comes to pregnancy pillows. One choice is to choose the highest-quality filling, which would be hollow fiber or polystyrene. These are water-resistant, hypoallergenic, and smell-resistant.

If you're looking for a more lightweight option, we suggest choosing a pillow filled with Styrofoam balls. These are similar to beanbags. They will conform to your body easily but are also quite noisy when you move around.

Pillows made from Styrofoam balls are not generally machine-washable, so be sure to choose one with a removable cover that you can place in the washer.

If you need something with more support but is still lightweight, go with a pillow with microbead filling. This will also make less noise than a Styrofoam option. Some of these are machine-washable, but others are not.

How to Use a Pregnancy Pillow for Relief

Now that you have seen some of the common sleeping issues that are associated with pregnancy, as well as what factors to look for in a pregnancy pillow, you are probably wondering how to use a pregnancy pillow. Let's get into the various types of pregnancy pillows (yes, there are multiple), and how to use each one.

Full-length pregnancy pillow

A full-length pregnancy pillow is exactly as the name suggests. It is straight, running along the length of your body. Because of this, some people call them an I-shaped pillow.

These types of pregnancy pillows look precisely like a regular sleeping pillow does, but much longer. They are meant for you to wrap your arms and legs around.

Who is it ideal for?

Full-length pregnancy pillows are ideal for pregnant women sleeping on their side that don't necessarily need too much back support, as they are not great for providing that. So, full-length options are best for women in the early stages of pregnancy.

They are an excellent option for women who are used to sleeping on their stomach, to begin breaking that habit. There are various flexible options available for this type of pillow, which will bend and conform to your body.

How to use it

So, how do you use a full-length pregnancy pillow? It is quite simple. You simply wrap your arms and legs around it, in whichever way that is most comfortable to you.

Another option is to place it underneath your belly while you are lying on your side.

Wedge pregnancy pillow

Wedge pregnancy pillows are the smallest option to choose from and are available in crescent or triangular shapes. These are easily portable, but you will still need to use a regular pillow for your head while sleeping.

Who is it ideal for?

Wedge shape pillows are excellent for moms-to-be that are always on-the-go. If you travel often, then it's not very practical to lug a ginormous pregnancy pillow around with you. Plus, if you travel by plane, it's nearly impossible.

Because of this, wedge pillows are an ideal option. They are also a good choice as a secondary pregnancy pillow, for moments where you only need support in one area or to use on the couch.

How to use it

Wedge-shape pillows can prop your head or back while you're reclining or sitting. Or, they can also support your back or stomach when you're lying on your side. You can even use it to support a hot water bottle against your back!

Wedge pillows can also go behind your back on its own to support your lower back.

U-shaped pregnancy pillow

U-shaped pillows are the largest pregnancy pillow option. Many women choose a U-shaped pillow to get the most support possible. It will support your entire body, including your neck, head, belly, back, knees, and ankles.

Who is it ideal for?

U-shaped pregnancy pillows are a fantastic option for women accustomed to sleeping on their backs, as well as those who continuously toss and turn throughout the night. This is because you won't have to readjust the pillow, as it will be on both sides of you.

However, if you have a small bed (think full-sized or smaller), then a U-shaped pillow most likely won't work for you, especially if you are sleeping with another person or pet.

How to use it

One way to use a pregnancy pillow that is U-shaped is to place it underneath your belly while you sleep on your side. This will help to support your stomach and back muscles as you sleep.

Another option is to wrap your arms and legs around it, similarly to a full-length pillow. This can help relieve tension in your ankles and knee joints.

You can also use a U-shaped pillow against your back or in between your legs. This can support your pelvis and your entire back.

As you can see, U-shaped pregnancy pillows are some of the most versatile options.

C-shaped pregnancy pillow

Last, but not least, we have C-shaped pregnancy pillows. These are incredibly similar to U-shaped pillows, but lack length on one side. They can support the entire body, but not necessarily all parts of the body at the same time.

Who is it ideal for?

These are an excellent option if you want the versatility of a U-shaped pillow, but have a smaller bed.

These types of pillows are highly recommended for plus-size women because the shape of them allows you to shape it in various ways.

How to use it

One way on how to use a pregnancy pillow that is C-shaped is to place it along your back or between your legs. Placing it behind your back will give both your upper and lower back support while placing it in between your legs will support your pelvis.

Getting a Better Night's Sleep While Pregnant

Pregnant Woman Sleeping
Image source: freepik

Do you have any other tips on how to use a pregnancy pillow that we didn't mention? Let us know in a comment!

Featured image source: freepik

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