What Is a Pregnancy Pillow? Why Do You Need One if You’re Expecting?

what is a pregnancy pillow

If you’re pregnant, it’s important to take care of yourself. This self-care can begin with better sleep quality. Fortunately, there are pillows specifically designed for pregnancy and post-pregnancy to reduce aches and pains, and help you to get some proper rest as well.
But what is a pregnancy pillow and how can you make the most of one? The principle of a pregnancy pillow is rather simple: it’s a cushion that’s made to accommodate a person’s body as it grows and changes throughout pregnancy. It aids the sleeper in feeling more comfortable—even after childbirth.

Pregnancy pillows are available in a variety of shapes, styles, fillings, fabrics, and colours. In particular, some pregnancy pillows will support the total body while others will fit between your knees for more specific support.

Various Types of Pregnancy Pillows

Pregnancy pillows come in a variety of styles, designs, and sizes. This allows you to discover the best body pillows for back pain, leg cramps, to support a baby bump, improve blood circulation, body aches, pains, and more. Let’s take a look at the most popular styles to consider.

Wedge Pillows

A pregnancy wedge pillow is functional and can be used during and after pregnancy. It’s shaped similar to a wedge of cheese and is available in both round and triangular shapes. Generally speaking, women place wedge pillows under their bump to offer support. You can also use the pregnancy pillow to elevate your back or legs.

Furthermore, these are some of the cheapest pregnancy pillows you can buy and are practical long after pregnancy too. You can use these while you’re watching TV or propping up your regular pillow.

Total Body

Body pregnancy pillows curve around your body and support you more on one side. They’re typically C-shaped or U-shaped and come with a range of benefits, such as supporting your neck and back. This is one of the most popular types of maternity pillows and is ideal to look into around the third trimester.

Full-Length

Similarly, a full-length pregnancy pillow is essentially a larger version of a standard body pillow. It provides much-needed support and comfort. In particular, it supports your belly and allows your back to stay properly aligned when it’s placed between your knees.


In contrast to a total body pregnancy pillow, this focuses on providing support on one side of your body and is typically straight and available in various fabrics and fillings to contour to your body and bump.

Bean

A bean pregnancy pillow is the most compact type of maternity pillow, allowing you to take it on the go with you to soothe aches and pains. You can also use this type of pillow to target specific areas of the body that require more support. Or rest it behind your back on a chair to eradicate back pain while you work or sit down. This type is also fairly affordable and compact enough to take everywhere with you.

Inflatable

Finally, inflatable pregnancy pillows aren’t the most common type of pillow for pregnant women, but they’re ideal if you have limited space for storing your pregnancy cushion during the day. In fact, they’re portable and require little room for storage. They’re also great if you sleep on your stomach without putting any pressure on the bump.

Using a Pregnancy Pillow

If you’re ready to start using a pregnancy pillow, we have some tips and advice on various sleeping positions you can indulge in, depending on the types of pregnancy pillows you have.

C-Shaped Pillow

For this type of pregnancy pillow, you’ll want to wrap it around your frame while you’re lying on your side. You can also use it to prop your back, head, and neck for maximum comfort. Wrap the pillow around your back with the other end under your head and neck for support. You can then place the other end between your legs to add support to your pelvic area.

Wedge Pillow

You can use a wedge pregnancy pillow to support you when you’re lying on your side. This will improve your spine alignment and maximise comfort. As the baby grows, you might need a pillow with a reduced height towards the last stages of pregnancy to prevent your stomach from rising too high.

Alternatively, placing a pregnancy pillow under your head help with acid reflux and heartburn. Use the pillow with the higher end at the top of your head.

U-Shaped Pillow

To use a u-shaped pregnancy pillow, wrap it around your back and stomach. Place the disjointed part of the pillow towards your feet, as this is where you’ll typically need less support while sleeping.

Full-Length Pillow

You can use a full-length pregnancy pillow to support any part of your body. But one of the most popular uses of a full body pillow is to support the stomach by hugging the pillow with a leg above and the other below the pillow.

Inflatable Pillow

This body pillow is designed more for portability while offering you to indulge in a sleeping position on your stomach. Simply place your bump in the doughnut hole, so you can lay on your stomach. This sleep position is often difficult with other pregnancy pillows but it can help to support your bump while eliminating body aches.

Reasons to Buy a Pregnancy Pillow

expectant mother sleeping on bedThere are so many reasons to invest in a pregnancy pillow. Let’s take a look at the most beneficial ones.

Better Rest at Night

One of the biggest benefits of a pregnancy pillow is alleviating discomfort when you sleep and allowing your body parts to feel more relaxed. These are designed to provide long-lasting comfort and to adjust to the contours of your changing body to help you get more and better rest at bedtime.

Helps With Pain

People who use a pregnancy pillow will encounter less hip pain, discomfort in the knees, and fewer aches in the back while lying on their mattresses each night. These pillows cushion your body, providing comfort for you and your baby.

Improves Circulation

Pregnancy pillows promote good blood circulation, which is important as your belly grows. And you can conveniently adjust the pillow’s shape to cushion you while you sleep.

The Best Sleeping Position for When You’re Pregnant

The best sleep position for pregnant women is on your side. This position improves circulation and allows oxygen and nutrients to get to your body while reducing any swelling. As you move further through your pregnancy, you’ll find it virtually impossible to lay on your belly anyway.

However, you shouldn’t sleep on your back all night. This is because the weight of your uterus presses on the artery running blood from your lower body back to your heart, making you dizzy. This position also puts a lot of pressure and weight on your intestines and back, resulting in issues such as backaches and can even cause or worsen haemorrhoids.

Tips for Sleeping Better When You’re Pregnant

pregnant woman reading in bedPregnancy pillows certainly help a number of pregnant women to feel more rested. In addition to a pregnancy pillow, here are some useful bedtime tips for mums to be:

  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine every night. This might include some reading, relaxing music, and maybe even a bath with some essential oils.
  • Stop drinking liquids at least two hours before you go to sleep. This will help to prevent you from getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.
  • Prop your head up on an extra pillow at bedtime, as this can help to reduce pregnancy-induced heartburn. Avoid spicy and greasy foods, and try to eat at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid using your smartphone for at least an hour before you go to bed. The light on these devices can affect your sleep pattern and quality.
  • Download a sleep app. There are many apps available to help with your calming needs. Many sleep apps feature white or nature sounds as well as meditation sessions to help you fall asleep easier.

Is Sleep Important When You’re Expecting?

Getting adequate rest is important for your body’s needs at the best of times, but it’s especially essential when you’re expecting a baby. This is because sleep improves your brain function and strengthens your immune system. It regulates growth hormone levels, which can dictate the shape and size as well as helping your foetus to develop. Not getting enough sleep can contribute to longer labour.

Furthermore, the first trimester can seem like the most challenging because your body is adjusting to the new changes in hormones, water retention, and blood flow. What’s more, progesterone can contribute to drowsiness, making you need more naps.

Towards your second trimester, these effects will become reduced, so you can sleep better without these symptoms keeping you awake. In the third trimester, you’ll see an increase in weight, which can make you more susceptible to pain and discomfort in bed.

What Pillows Do You Recommend?

Now you know what is a pregnancy pillow, we hope you will be able to make an informed decision and find the best one for your sleeping habits.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the best pillows to soothe aching hips and legs while you sleep. Do you have any pillow recommendations or advice on falling asleep when pregnant? Let us know your thoughts and tips in the comments.

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