As your pregnancy progresses, you will notice your that tummy will continue to expand (and if it doesn’t, LUCKY YOU! Many other moms are jealous). Your new size will bring with it a whole new set of challenges, one of which is sleeping comfortably. A pregnancy pillow is just be the product you need to get a super comfortable sleep while pregnant.
A pregnancy pillow is a great investment for everyone that shares your bed. If you can’t sleep at night then your tossing and turning will no doubt keep your partner awake too. Trust me on this, your partner will likely love your new pregnancy pillow more than you do!
Now there is no point rushing out and buying any old pregnancy pillow. You need to find one suitable for your situation. By using this guide you will be able to identify the best pregnancy pillow for you and be well on your way to a good nights rest.
Now this is a monster guide covering everything you could possibly need to know about pregnancy pillows. Use the links below to jump to your preferred section or keep reading from top to bottom to become a pregnancy pillow expert!
- The different types of pregnancy pillows
- What to look for when buying and comparing pregnancy pillows
- The best pregnancy pillows examined
- Pregnancy pillows for body type and sleeping positions
- Pregnancy pillow FAQ
Okay, enough waffling… With the introduction out of the way it’s time to jump into the meat of the guide.
The different types of pregnancy pillows
Guess what? There are a bunch of different pregnancy pillows that you can choose from. Different sizes, styles and shapes. Lets take a look at the variety of pregnancy pillows available as well as the pros and cons of each.
Pregnancy wedge pillow
The pregnancy wedge pillow is essentially a wedge (the name was a dead giveaway, wasn’t it?). It slides in under your back or tummy to deliver much needed support throughout the night.
Pregnancy wedges are one of the cheapest pregnancy pillow solutions available. Many mothers like pregnancy wedges because theya re still practical after giving birth. Getting comfortable watching television? Yep. Propping your regular pillow up? Yep. You do not have to be pregnant to enjoy a pregnancy wedge pillow.
The wedge design also allows you to use the wedge in a variety of different positions:
- Under the tummy – The wedge provides support to your tummy, helping keep the weight froms training your back and hips
- Behind the back – If you are prone to tossing and turning you can use a wedge to keep you sleeping on your side.
- Under your regular pillow – Elevates your head which may help to relive pregnancy heartburn and reflux.
Some expectant mothers even use the pregnancy wedge to help hold a hot water bottle or heat pack against their side.
Pregnancy wedges are available in two different styles:
Round pregnancy wedge pillow
The rounded wedge looks like a filled in crescent moon.
Triangular pregnancy wedge pillow
The triangular wedge resembles a wedge of cheese
The appeal of pregnancy wedges is that they do not take up much room in your bed. You know what that means? Your partner to be will still be able to comfortably sleep in the same bed as you. Wedges are the smallest type of pregnancy pillow available.
Due to the smaller size of pregnancy wedge pillows, you will still require a separate pillow for your head to rest on while you sleep. An advantage of the smaller size is that wedge pregnancy pillows are perfect for travelling while pregnant.
One of the downfalls of pregnancy wedge pillows is that they are inconsistent in their design. The steepness of the slope will vary from brand to brand. As a result many women have different preferences when it comes to wedge shaped pregnancy pillows. I have listed my favorite pregnancy pillow in the buyers guide further down this article.
How to sleep with a pregnancy wedge pillow
As the name hints, the pillow is wedged underneath you. Below you can see a pregnancy wedge in action; propping up a bulging belly.
Lets take a look at the pros and cons of pregnancy wedge pillows:
- Inexpensive pregnancy pillow option.
- Does not take up much room.
- Only supports a small section of your body.
- Head pillow still required.
Full length pregnancy pillow
As the name suggests, full length pregnancy pillows run along the length of your body. Also known as body pillows, this style is always straight. While they are great to cuddle, they do provide less support for your back than other styles of pregnancy pillow.
Full length pregnancy pillows take the place of using multiple regular pillows along the side of your body. The advantage of the full length pregnancy pillow is that it is a single unit that stays in place. Using multiple regular pillows will see them scatter throughout your bed as you toss and turn through the night.
Full length pregnancy pillows are available in two different styles:
Straight full length pregnancy pillow
The straight type looks like a regular pillow you would sleep on only much, much longer.
Flexible full length pregnancy pillow
The flexible type resembles a much larger version of a draft stopper
The flexible full length pillows actually bend and conform into whatever shape you want. The more expensive flexible pillows will contain microbeads while the cheaper variety contains standard styrofoam balls (similar to a bean bag). Microbeads make for a much more supportive filling than standard styrofoam.
The straight full length body pillows on the other hand will not easily bend or twist (similar to the pillow you that your head rests on at night).
How to sleep with a full length pregnancy pillow
Unlike smaller pregnancy pillows, the full length variety is designed to be hugged and cuddled. One way to sleep is to place your legs and arms around it with the center of the pillow supporting your mid section like below.
- Supports your whole body.
- No head pillow required.
- Takes up more room in the bed.
- Not ideal for back sleepers.
Total body pregnancy pillows
Total body pillows wrap around the exterior of your pregnant body, resulting in a superior support. These pillows are generally around 5 or 6 feet long, big enough for most people to easily curl up inside.
Not only does the body pillow hug your front, but also your back as well. If you awake with a sore back each morning then the extra spinal support offered by a total body pregnancy pillow is just what you need.
Total body pregnancy pillows are available in two different styles:
C shaped pregnancy pillows
Resembles the shape of the letter C.
U shaped pregnancy pillow
Resembles the shape of the letter U
As you can see, each style of total body pillow is named after the letter it resembles. Despite both styles being total body pillows, they are both slept in very differently.
How to use a C shaped body pillow:
The C shape is designed to be used in a riding position. The base of the C is saddled between your legs while the top of the C is used to rest your head. Your back nestles into the curve of the C, which helps relieve pressure placed upon your spine.
Below is an example of how you would use a C shaped pregnancy pillow to get comfortable.
How to use a U shaped body pillow:
A U shaped pillow is designed to be straddled (as if you were a koala in a tree). Since the U shape offers support for both sides, this pillow is suitable for those of you who enjoy sleeping on your back but can no longer do so due to your larger belly.
Like the C shaped pregnancy pillow, the U style offers support for the head, back and legs.
Below is an example of how you would use a U shaped pregnancy pillow to get comfortable.
- The most supportive toddler pillow.
- No separate head pillow required.
- Big and bulky.
- Most expensive type of pregnancy pillow.
What to look at when comparing pregnancy pillows
Knowing the different types of pregnancy pillows is only half the battle. Lets take a look at what you will need to know when comparing one pregnancy pillow to another.
Does the pregnancy pillow have a removable cover?
Guess what? As your pregnancy continues you are going to experience some sweaty nights courtesy of those raging pregnancy hormones. Unfortunately this sweat will not only be absorbed by your bed sheets but your pregnancy pillow as well.
Due to their bulky size, pregnancy pillows are not easy to clean. A removable cover will allow you to easily wash your pregnancy pillow. The more popular pillow brands sell spare covers separately so that you can still use your pillow at night while your washed cover dries.
Covers that fasten by buttons or press studs will quickly get annoying. A zip or simple slip on cover will make removal a much simpler process.
What filling is used in the pregnancy pillow?
Lets explore the different fillings that manufacturers use to keep your pregnancy pillow comfortable and supportive.
Styrofoam ball filling
You know those small white balls you find in a bean bag? They are Styrofoam balls and they are also commonly found in cheaper pregnancy pillows. Styrofoam filling allows pillows to easily adapt to your body shape and lightweight. The downside is they do tend to make noise as you move around the pregnancy pillow.
Polyester fiber filling
Polyester fiber is soft and doesn’t make any noise. The amount of polyester fiber used in a pregnancy pillow will determine the firmness. While polyester is a very popular filling in pregnancy pillows, it does not breath as well as other fillings.
Micro-beads are incredibly fine balls approximately 1/32 inch wide (pretty small, huh?). Pregnancy pillows made from micro-beads feel like they have sand inside them. Unlike sand, micro-beads are incredibly lightweight; allowing you to carry around your pregnancy pillow with ease. Micro-beads offer almost no noise and are much more supportive than standard Styrofoam balls.
Memory foam filling
Memory foam pregnancy pillows take the shape of your body as it presses against it. Once your weight is lifted of the pillow, the memory foam regains its original shape. Pregnancy pillows containing memory foam filling are generally quite firm. Since memory foam can cause heat to build up, some manufacturers shred it prior to using it in pregnancy pillow filling. The shredded memory foam still allows air to circulate inside it, helping reducing that hot feeling.
Natural and organic filling
If you want to keep your pregnancy as natural as possible then you will definitely be on the look out for a pregnancy pillow to suit. Natural fillings include:
Remember, just because a pregnancy pillow uses natural filling does not necessarily make it organic.
Oh… One more thing regarding the filling of the pillow:
Depending on the material inside the pillow; you may find that your pregnancy pillow has a “new” smell. If this is the case, simply air the pillow out for a few days prior to use and the majority of the smell should disappear.
How noisy is the pregnancy pillow?
This was touched on in the filling section above. Some fillings and covers are noisier than others. When I refer to the noise I mean the sound your pillow makes as you move your head and body over it. You don’t want a pillow that crinkles and rustles so loudly that it will wake you in the middle of the night.
Pay attention to the filling and fabric of the pillow and avoid any that are overly loud when you place your head to them.
Is the pregnancy pillow hypoallergenic?
The changes your body goes through during pregnancy can actually make you more sensitive to fibers and materials that previously had no effect on you. Isn’t pregnancy wonderful? **Rolls eyes**
A hypoallergenic pregnancy pillow will allow you to sleep at night without triggering allergies. If you had breathing complications, asthma or allergy sensitivities prior to pregnancy then a hypoallergenic pillow is definitely a must.
How big is the pillow?
Before you jump in and buy that pregnancy pillow it is important that you consider its size. If the pillow is too big then your partner will definitely be sleeping on the couch.
Take into consideration the size of the pregnancy pillow vs. the size of your bed. The larger your bed, the bigger the pregnancy pillow you can fit between you and your partner.
Size also comes down to personal preference. Some women enjoy literally swimming in their pregnancy pillow. Others prefer it smaller. Take your preference into consideration when choosing a pregnancy pillow.
Soft vs. firm pregnancy pillows
A lot of people have a love for soft pillows. When choosing a pregnancy pillow it is best that this affection is put to the side. A firmer pregnancy pillow will provide more support than a softer one. While a firm pregnancy pillow may seem uncomfortable at first, you will quickly get used to it.
What parts of you hurt when you wake up?
When you wake up, pay attention to your aches and pains. In particular, the areas in which these pains are coming from. If unsupported, the following parts of your body may become stiff or sore overnight.
- Neck and shoulders
Now for the tricky part. You need to determine whether your aches and pains are from not being properly supported through the night or from some other non-sleep related issue (poor posture, improper lifting technique, etc.). If you have lower back and knee pain for instance, it may be that you need a good pair of shoes for pregnancy instead.
If the soreness definitely arises from sleeping then you will want to look for a pregnancy pillow that supports these aching body parts in particular.
Best pregnancy pillows examined
In this section we will examine the most popular and best pregnancy pillows available in each category. These pillows are adored by pregnant women the world over and are considered the best in their class.
Best C-shaped pregnancy pillow
Snoogle total body pillow
Style: White, brown or gray
- Washable cover.
- Natural contour.
- Made in USA.
The Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow is one of the most popular pregnancy pillows around. The has been on the market for well over 10 years and is a very comfortable pregnancy pillow.
The unique C shape allows you to sleep with this pregnancy pillows in numerous positions. Don’t look over this pregnancy pillow if you are on the short side (around the 5’ mark). Many petite women love this pregnancy pillow saying the extra length allows them to better position the pillow as their body changes.
My one gripe with this pillow is the lack of a zippered cover (I love pregnancy pillows with zip on covers, the ease in which you can remove the cover is a blessing). Leachco does have a version with a zip but you will have to be prepared to pay extra for it.
I am a fan of any product that is manufactured right here in the USA. Leachco does not disappoint; this pregnancy pillow is proudly made on American soil.
Best U-shaped pregnancy pillow
Back ‘N Belly Contoured Body Pillow
Style: As pictured
- Supports back.
- Washable cover.
- Inner contours.
- Made in USA.
Turn left. Turn right. Whatever way you turn to get comfortable you will be able to sleep in the same position thanks to the mirrored shape of the pillow. With this pillow sharing your bed you are bound to find a comfortable position.
Leachco have gone all out on this pregnancy pillow. You can even lock the open end together and use it as a nursing pillow. No, seriously… check it out!
Straight up, this is a very large pillow (if you are 6 foot it will still go past your knees). The extra size may prove daunting at first but it actually allows you to climb into all sorts of comfortable positions that are simply not possible on a smaller pillow.
Like the previous pregnancy pillow by Leachco, this one is also made right here in the USA.
My one gripe with this pregnancy pillow is that while the cover easily comes off, it can be somewhat of a chore to put back on. With practice you will find the best way to replace the cover (a scrunching the cover technique worked best for me). It’s a shame Leachco didn’t incorporate a zipper into this pillow. Even with this small downside it is still easily the best U-shaped pregnancy pillow on the market.
Best pregnancy wedge pillow
Boppy Petite Trellis Grey
Style: As pictured
- Very portable.
- Removable cover.
Lightweight and versatile, the boppy pregnancy wedge is one of the cheapest pregnancy pillows available. Don’t let the price fool you, this is one very effective pregnancy pillow.
Since the idea behind a pregnancy wedge is support, this pillow is quite firm which some expectant mothers are not used to. The firmness is necessary as a common problem with softer wedges is that they compress and flatten a little too much.
The core of the pregnancy pillow is polyurethane foam. Covering the foam is a thick cotton cover with a slick finish.
Thanks to a sturdy zipper, the cover can easily be removed for washing in seconds. Simply peel the cover off after a sweaty night and throw it through a washing cycle. An advantage of the wedges smaller size is that the cover is incredibly easy to replace.
Best memory foam pregnancy pillow
Shredded Memory Foam Body Pillow
Style: As pictured
Brand:Coop Home Goods
- Machine washable.
- 5 year limited warranty.
- Made in USA.
Coop Home Goods have paid an incredible amount of attention to detail with this pregnancy pillow. The result? An premium pregnancy pillow that will keep you super comfortable through the duration of your pregnancy.
Measuring 60 inches long, this pregnancy pillow runs along the length of your body. Simply wrap yourself around it for support.
Made from shredded memory foam, the pregnancy pillow will conform to your body’s unique shape; providing support where you need it most. The cover is made from a combination of polyester and bamboo. The result is a super soft material that allows air to easily circulate through it; keeping you cool. The materials used make this a 100% hypoallergenic pregnancy pillow; great for those of you with allergies.
This pillow is low maintenance. You can throw the whole pillow through the wash. Yep, you read that right. When washing time comes simply open the door on your washing machine and toss the whole pillow in. No annoying covers to remove? A winner in my book.
It is worth noting: since the memory foam inside the pillow is shredded it may be a little but lumpy. Do not be put off by this, after a few minutes of use the pillow will slowly start to shape itself to your body. The longer you use this pillow the softer it will get.
This memory foam pregnancy pillow is made right here in the USA. Coop Home Goods supports the pillow with a 100% satisfaction guarantee and even offers a 5 year limited warranty.
Best pregnancy pillows for…
Below we will take a look at the different body types and sleeping positions that can have an impact on your choice in pregnancy pillow.
Twins or more
Many moms with twins or more recommend U shaped pregnancy pillows. The larger pillow size helps provide support where you need it most due to your larger than normal tummy. Any of these U-shaped pregnancy pillows would be a fine choice.
Plus sized women
So you live on the larger size of life, who cares? You are still beautiful and should still have a comfortable sleep while pregnant. Many forums report that the c-shape is the best pregnancy pillow for plus sized women. Its asymmetrical shape allows will give you the most choice when it comes to positioning the pillow around your body. Check out these C-shaped pregnancy pillows to find the perfect one for you.
Just because you are a little on the shorter side doesn’t mean that you cannot have a comfortable night sleep while pregnant. While using a larger pregnancy pillow is not a problem, many petite women prefer a pillow that they will not swim in. Popular petite sized pregnancy pillows include the Leahco Snoogle Mini Compact and the Petite Total Body Pillow
If you sleep on your side then you will find it the easiest to get comfortable at night while pregnant. It is commonly recommended that you sleep on your side during pregnancy. As a result there are a huge amount of pregnancy pillows to choose from that encourage comfortable side sleeping.
Sadly, pregnancy means that you will be unable to continue sleeping on your back past the first trimester. Back sleepers are a unique breed that find it quite uncomfortable when forced to sleep on their side. If this is you then you will have a tendency to naturally roll onto your back during your sleep.
To combat this, back sleepers should look for a pregnancy pillow that pushes against their back. The feel of weight against the back can feel reassuring to back sleepers and help them fall asleep even when on their side. Both the Snoogle and the Back ‘n Belly are suitable pillows for providing weight against the back.
Tummy sleepers rejoice. I am going to let you in on a secret. You can sleep on your stomach and be comfortable while pregnant. How? Using the pregnancy cushion shown below.
Now this pregnancy pillow is actually designed to be used by a massage therapist. This pillow allows the massage therapist to give their clients massages comfortably during the later stages of pregnancy. That said; this is an incredibly comfortable solution for stomach sleeping while pregnant.
There are, however a few drawbacks:
- Price – In no way, shape or form is this a cheap pregnancy pillow. The product is aimed at professional massage therapists. I would only consider this if you have the money to spare or can borrow one.
- Getting out of bed – If you are someone who constantly needs to get up at night to go to the toilet then this pillow may be a bit of a chore to constantly remove yourself from over the course of the night.
- Your body size This pregnancy pillow is made for those of you with a narrow frame. If you are someone who lives slightly on the wider side of life (no shame, us women come in all shapes and sizes) then this pregnancy pillow may be a poor fit.
If you have tried everything and believe sleeping on your stomach is the solution then you can get it here.
Pregnancy Pillow FAQ
Below I will cover the most commonly asked questions about pregnancy pillows. If you have a pregnancy pillow question, ask it in the comments section below this article.
What is a pregnancy Pillow?
A pregnancy pillow is a pillow specifically designed to provide support to your pregnant body during pregnancy. Pregnancy pillows are also commonly known as maternity pillows.
Why wont a regular pillow work?
While a regular pillow will offer some support and much needed relief, you will not be as comfortable as you could be. You will find that your regular pillow does not conform to your new shape correctly and does not offer adequate support. Regular pillows also have a nasty habit of sliding around your bed as you move around in your sleep.
That said, if you have found success with using a regular pillow, then stick with it. Unfortunately many other women have not had your luck and require a pregnancy pillow to get a comfortable nights rest.
Do I need a pregnancy pillow?
You may be tossing up as to whether or not a pregnancy pillow is an essential piece of pregnancy gear. Some women swear by them while others have gotten by just fine without one. Here are some good indicators that a pregnancy pillow is perfect for you:
- Pillow collection – You find yourself using multiple pillows spread out along your body to get comfortable
- Waking with pain – You experience pelvic pain, hip pain, lower back pain when you awake in the morning.
- Back or tummy sleeper – Your preferred pre-pregnancy sleeping position was on your back or tummy
- Medical conditions – You suffer from a medical condition such as Sciatica.
If you are nodding your head at any of the above points then a pregnancy pillow can have a hugely positive impact on your sleep while pregnant.
What is the difference between a pregnancy pillow vs. a body pillow?
Pregnancy pillows are designed to support your bodies new size and shape. While pregnancy pillows have curves and contours; body pillows are long and straight. While some people mothers to be can still get comfortable with a body pillow, many prefer the unique shape of a pregnancy pillow.
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