As your pregnancy continues to progress, you’ll find that several aspects of your life begin to change. You may have cravings for specific kinds of food that you didn’t like before. You’ll probably spend more time going to the bathroom than usual. On top of that, you might also struggle to get a great night’s sleep.
A pregnancy pillow or body pillow for pregnant women is one of the best ways to get a better quality of sleep. People from all backgrounds agree that pregnancy pillows offer the extra support and comfort that you crave when your body is changing shape. More importantly, pregnancy pillows help to improve your sleep quality without putting your baby at risk.
The question is, how to use a pregnancy pillow to improve your slumber? We’re going to guide you through the top tips for women using all kinds of pregnancy pillow options.
How to Use Pregnancy Pillows
The National Sleep Foundation notes that a good quality of sleep is crucial for women and their babies during pregnancy. Unfortunately, the traditional mattress isn’t designed for a pregnant woman. You’ll struggle to get the right level of support for your bump without an alternative solution.
The good news for today’s expecting mothers is that there are various kinds of pillows to choose from. This makes it more likely that you can find a sleep solution that delivers better shut-eye.
Here are some of the different kinds of pregnancy pillows, and how you can use them.
1. C-Shaped Pillow
A C-shaped pillow for pregnant women comes with large, curved pads that offer extra support for you along a single axis. This kind of pillow is great for giving you extra comfort on your side, and the design wraps perfectly around your body so you get the right angle for your neck, head, back, and pelvis too.
If you need a body pillow for you and your baby that addresses all your problem areas and pressure points, the C-shaped pillow pad will usually be a good option. However, one major downside for most of these products is that it can be difficult to switch which side you lie on during the night, because you must flip your entire pillow.
To use this pillow, place your head on the top of the pillow, and slide your back into the curve, putting one leg over the lower curve.
2. The J-Shaped Pillow
A J-shaped pillow is another option like the U-shaped pillow, but with one side missing for mums who want the support of a full-length pillow. Ideal for those with bigger beds, such as a queen-size bed, the J-shaped pillow will support most of your belly and back at the same time.
Because J-shaped pillows are a lot smaller, but still somewhat more supportive than a wedge pillow, they’re good for virtually any sleep setup. If you don’t have a lot of space in your room, or you’re one of the moms sleeping with others in the bed, then this pillow could be ideal.
You can sleep on your side with a J-shape pillow, holding the pillow between your knees to give your legs and back extra support, and protect your belly. There’s also the option to place this pillow around your back, to provide extra support for your spine.
3. U-Shaped Pillow
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea that you’ll have to constantly move your entire pillow when you roll from one way to the other as you sleep, you might try a U-shaped pillow. This is one of the most luxurious options for a mother and her baby, because it provides complete support for your entire body. Total body pillows can take up a lot of space, but they are very comfortable.
Your full-length U-shaped pillow can support your head and back at the same time, great for women who often toss and turn from one leg to the other during the night. You may even be able to try back or try stomach sleeping with this kind of full-length pillow. However, you should always speak to a professional if you’re concerned about sleeping on your stomach.
To sleep with this pillow, you simply wrap the pillow around your stomach and back, hooking it over your shoulder. Wrap your leg over one of the sides.
4. Wedge-Shaped pillow
Wedge pillows are a popular choice for supporting your head and body when you’re pregnant. Wedge pillows are often triangle- or crescent-shaped pillows that you can use for more support for your belly and back. Unlike full-length body pillows, this type of pillow is a lot smaller, making it ideal for portability, and if you have a smaller bed.
Wedge pillows are great for propping your back, belly, and head up while you sleep. Most mothers also continue to use this kind of pillow to avoid back pain when they’re breastfeeding after giving birth. There are a few ways to use this pregnancy pillow. One option is to support the underside of the belly when you’re in a side-lying position. This can help to improve spine alignment, but you may need a separate pillow between your legs.
You could also put the pillow under your head to address issues like heartburn and acid reflux, or back pain. Use a wedge under your standard pillow, with the higher end at the top of your head, and the incline supporting your neck and upper back.
5. Full-Length Pillows
If you’ve never looked into getting a maternity pillow before, you’ll quickly discover that many stores sell all kinds of body pillow to support pregnant women.
Full-length pillows are some of the most common options outside of the pregnancy wedge cushion. These pillows are similar to a standard pillow, but longer in size. You can use a full-length pillow to prop up any part of your body or back. Many women like to use these pillows between their knees.
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If like most women, you struggle to get your legs comfortable in bed, the shape of the long full pillow will support each knee as you hug it. Make sure that you use a pillow cover or case to protect against sweating, however. Check the instructions on the website you purchase your pillow from to ensure you place it in your bed correctly
When Should You Start Using a Pregnancy Pillow?
Every mother is different, but most will begin using their pregnancy pillow at a similar time. There’s no set rule for when you should begin using these pillows, but it’s common to start around the 20-week mark. You can even continue to use these pillows after giving birth to help with fighting back against things like blood pressure problems and water retention.
You should begin to notice yourself when you start to suffer more often from neck and leg pain, or discomfort when you’re lying in your usual position. This information is enough to suggest that you might need to experiment with pregnancy pillow positions.
Remember, follow the tips given by your doctor, and think about the features that matter most to you when you’re shopping for your new investment. Points to consider include:
If you sleep on your side, then choosing a pillow you can place between your knees will keep each leg comfortable. Make sure that the size supports both your back and your knees at the same time if possible.
Think about the biggest problems you’re having with pregnancy comfort right now. Everyone has different views about which pillow works best. If you have heartburn frequently, then you might need a wedge-shaped pillow.
Make sure that the pillow you choose has plenty of padding to support you whichever side you choose to sleep on. Read the reviews to see which way you should use your product to protect your back, belly and baby
Remember that your doctor should be able to give you advice on how to use different shaped pillows to keep your belly and baby safe, particularly when sleeping on your back.
Can You Sleep on Your Back With a Pregnancy Pillow?
In general, you should never sleep on your back with a pregnant belly. It’s best for you and your baby to sleep on your side, as this will help to ensure that there’s minimal pressure on your back and hips. Sleeping on your back can also put you at risk of serious problems during your pregnancy.
Sleeping on your back causes more pressure on your intestines and major blood vessels from your abdomen. In severe cases, this can reduce the blood flow between you and your baby. There are different shaped pillows that you can use during pregnancy to reduce the risk to your belly, but don’t take any risks. Before you sleep on your back, speak to your doctor. They’ll be able to tell you how different pillows reduce your risk of back sleeping.
You can also talk to other women who have used a similar pregnancy pillow to you, or check back on the website for reviews from people with similar experiences
Always make sure you’re careful to protect your neck, back and stomach in any position.
Invest in a Good Night’s Sleep
Whether you want a safe way to sleep on your back, or you need something to protect your back and stomach while you rest, pregnancy pillows can be a good choice. From U-shaped and J-shaped pillows to wedges, there’s something to suit your needs during pregnancy. You can even continue using certain U-shaped pillows and other options after giving birth.
Once you learn how to use a pregnancy pillow, you may find that it helps to protect your legs and back when you’re sleeping. If you have a lot of back and neck pain or struggle to find the right position, you may never go back to normal after using a pregnancy pillow. The key is finding the one that’s right for you.
Do you or someone you know use pregnancy pillows? What type of pillow do you find most effective? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.