How To Use A Pregnancy Pillow

Published Categorized as Bedding, Pillows

During the journey of motherhood, comfort is extremely important, so knowing how to use a pregnancy pillow is key.

This article explores the pregnancy pillow, a tool that brings both relief and ease during pregnancy, detailing the types and when to start using one.

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What is a Pregnancy Pillow and What Are the Types?

A pregnancy pillow is a specially designed support tool that accommodates the unique changes a woman’s body undergoes during pregnancy. These pillows alleviate discomfort, promoting healthier sleep and reducing the stress often experienced in the back, hips, and neck.

how to use pregnancy pillow

Different types of pregnancy pillows cater to distinct needs:

Pillow TypeBenefits
C-shaped or contour pillowsSupports your back or belly (depending on how you position it), keeps legs and hips parallel. Provides comprehensive support.
U-shaped full body pillowsProvides support to the entire body, helps prevent aches and pains. Ideal for frequent side-switchers
J-shaped pillowsProvides more isolated support for your bump and your lower back, best for back sleepers.
I-Shaped pillowsUsed on either side of the body. Aids in alignment and relieves pressure points.
Wedge pillowsMost compact style of pillow, can be used to strategically support a single area like the midsection or back. Portable and targeted support.
Multipurpose pregnancy pillowsUsed to support back support, frame the legs, and support the abdomen, can help you enjoy peaceful nights. See example here.
Rectangular body pillowsSlimmer than full-body pillows, get the job done without taking up too much space in bed, can provide localized pressure relief to different parts of your body.

When Should You Start Sleeping with a Pregnancy Pillow?

The optimal time to start using a pregnancy pillow varies from woman to woman, depending on comfort and physical needs. However, most healthcare professionals recommend starting from the second trimester.

As your baby begins to grow and your body changes, the additional support from a pregnancy pillow can make sleep more comfortable and restful.

Notably, it’s crucial to listen to your body. If you feel discomfort when sleeping or notice increased back or hip pain, it may be beneficial to start using a pregnancy pillow earlier.

No matter when you start, remember the ultimate goal is to ensure a comfortable, and restful sleep during your pregnancy journey.

How To Sleep With A Pregnancy Pillow

Pregnancy pillows come in various shapes and sizes, each tailored to address different discomforts during pregnancy. Let’s explore how to use each pillow effectively to ensure maximum comfort and restful sleep.

Using C-Shaped Pregnancy Pillows

C-shaped pregnancy pillows wrap around your body, providing comprehensive support. The bottom end goes between your legs for hip alignment, the center supports your back or belly depending on how you position it, and the top end cradles your head and neck. This setup ensures an all-around support structure for a comfortable sleep.

C-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow

Using U-Shaped Pregnancy Pillows

U-shaped pregnancy pillows support both sides of the body simultaneously. You sleep inside the ‘U’ with the bottom curves between your legs. This layout offers balanced support, making it an excellent choice for mothers who frequently switch sleeping sides.

U-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow

Using I-Shaped Pregnancy Pillows

I-shaped pregnancy pillows, also known as straight or full-length pregnancy pillows, are a simpler variant. You cuddle it like a regular pillow but it’s long enough to support the entire body. It can be used on either side of the body to aid in alignment and relieve pressure points.

Using J Shaped Pregnancy Pillows

The J-shaped pillow acts as a great support system for your head, belly, and legs. It’s like a full-length pillow but with a hook at one end. You can wrap the hook around your neck or under your belly to provide the extra support you need during pregnancy.

Using Wedge Shaped Pregnancy Pillows

Wedge pregnancy pillows are compact and versatile. You can place it under your belly, back, or between your knees for targeted support. It’s also handy for propping yourself up when experiencing heartburn or back pain.

These wedges are ideal for individuals who struggle with fluctuating body temperatures during sleep, as they allow you to conveniently insert a heating pad or cooling pack between yourself and the wedge to regulate your comfort level.

Using Body Pillow Shape

A body pillow is a large (usually U-shaped) pillow designed to provide full-body support while sleeping or lounging. It follows the contours of the body, providing cushioning and relief for every part of the body touched. It’s excellent for hugging and sleeping in a cuddled position. (Read more: What Are The Benefits Of A Body Pillow?)

Using Inflatable Pregnancy Pillows

Inflatable pregnancy pillows are a portable solution. You can adjust the air level to your comfort, making it versatile. It can serve as a backrest, belly support, or even a full-body pillow. Inflation levels can be adjusted as your pregnancy progresses. For added comfort, you might want to cover the pillow with a towel or blanket.

Using Full-Length Pregnancy Pillows

Full-length pregnancy pillows offer complete body support. The idea is to hug the pillow and let it support your belly and legs. These are simple to use and versatile enough to be positioned in various ways to provide relief to your specific pain points. It’s an excellent all-around solution for pregnancy discomforts during sleep.

How to Use a Pregnancy Pillow

A pregnancy pillow is designed to alleviate pregnancy discomfort and facilitate better sleep. Depending on its shape, you can use it to support your growing belly, alleviate back pressure, align your hips, or even provide full-body support. Remember, it’s about listening to your body and using the pillow in a way that brings you the most comfort.

Positioning the Pillow

The positioning of a pregnancy pillow depends on its type and your comfort needs:

  • Full-length or body pillow: Hug this long pillow with your arms and legs, letting it support your belly and align your hips.
  • C-Shaped pillow: Position the C-shaped pillow so that the curve wraps around your body. One end supports your head and neck, the other goes between your legs for hip alignment, and the middle part supports your back or belly.
  • U-Shaped pillow: Sleep within the ‘U,’ positioning the pillow’s bottom curves between your legs and the top curves under your head.
  • Wedge pillow: Use this small pillow to provide targeted support. You can place it under your belly or back, or even between your knees.
Positioning a Pregnancy Pillow

Remember, the ultimate goal is to alleviate discomfort and facilitate a good night’s sleep, so feel free to adjust the positioning to meet your comfort needs.

Selecting a High-Quality Pillow

A good-quality pregnancy pillow can make a significant difference in your comfort. Here’s what to consider when selecting one:

  • Material: Choose a pillow with hypoallergenic and breathable material. A removable and washable cover is also a plus for maintaining hygiene.
  • Filling: Consider the filling material. Memory foam conforms to your body shape while microbeads or polyester fiberfill might offer a more flexible or firm support.
  • Size: Select a size that fits your body and bed. Remember, larger pillows offer more support but take up more space.
  • Shape: The shape should align with your comfort needs. Full-length, C-shaped, U-shaped, or wedge – each type offers unique support.
  • Durability: Look for well-constructed, durable pillows that can withstand nightly use and still maintain their shape and support.

In the end, a high-quality pregnancy pillow should provide comfort, support, and withstand the test of time. After all, a restful night’s sleep is invaluable during the magical journey of pregnancy.

Sleeping Positions for Pregnant Women

The recommended sleep position for pregnancy is ‘SOS’ (Sleep on Side). Specifically, sleeping on your left side may benefit your baby by improving blood flow and increasing nutrients to the placenta. You might find it comfortable to:

  • Bend your knees and keep your legs relaxed
  • Use a pregnancy pillow between your legs

How Not To Sleep While Pregnant

Certain sleep positions should be avoided during pregnancy:

  • Back Sleeping: Lying on your back can cause problems such as backaches, breathing issues, digestive system troubles, hemorrhoids, and low blood pressure. It can also decrease circulation to your heart and your baby.
  • Stomach Sleeping: In the early stages of pregnancy, sleeping on your stomach is generally safe. However, as your belly grows, this position becomes uncomfortable and can exert unnecessary pressure on the baby.

It’s important to note that turning to these positions momentarily while you’re sleeping isn’t a cause for panic. Your discomfort will likely prompt you to move before any harm can come to you or your baby.

The Best Way to Sleep While Pregnant

The best way to sleep during pregnancy is on your side (SOS), specifically on your left side. Sleeping on your left side increases the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and the baby. Here are some tips:

  • Use a Pregnancy Pillow: A pregnancy pillow can help you maintain a side-sleeping position and provide support to your belly and legs.
  • Regularly Change Sides: If your left side becomes uncomfortable, it’s okay to switch to your right side.
  • Use a Regular Pillow: If you don’t have a pregnancy pillow, a regular pillow between your legs can help align your hips and make side-sleeping more comfortable.
  • Elevate Your Upper Body: If heartburn is a problem, propping up the upper body can help.

Sleep is crucial during pregnancy, and ensuring you’re in the correct position can make a significant difference. Listen to your body, use supportive tools like pregnancy pillows, and enjoy restful, nourishing sleep during your journey to motherhood.

Why Pregnancy Makes Sleep Difficult

Pregnancy can alter sleep patterns due to several reasons including hormonal changes, physical discomfort, and emotional stress. These factors can cause sleep interruptions, making it difficult for expecting mothers to achieve restful slumber.


Hormones play a significant role during pregnancy, and can majorly influence your sleep. Progesterone levels rise, which can cause increased sleepiness during the day but also result in disturbed sleep at night. Another hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), is associated with increased frequency of urination, causing disruptions in sleep. Relaxin, another pregnancy hormone, can lead to physical discomfort and restless sleep.

Furthermore, hormonal changes can also lead to vivid dreams or nightmares, further disturbing sleep. Despite these challenges, understanding these hormonal shifts can help manage them better, improving sleep quality during pregnancy.


Heartburn, a common issue during pregnancy, is caused by the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the valve between your stomach and esophagus. This can allow stomach acid to leak into your esophagus, causing heartburn. As your pregnancy progresses, your growing baby can put additional pressure on your stomach, exacerbating heartburn.

Heartburn can be especially bothersome during the night, interrupting sleep. To alleviate heartburn, avoid spicy and fatty foods, eat smaller meals more frequently, and don’t lie down right after eating. Elevating the head of your bed or using a wedge pillow can also help reduce nighttime heartburn.


Pregnancy can be a time of excitement, but it can also bring about stress and anxiety. Worries about your baby’s health, changes in your body, labor, delivery, or the responsibilities of becoming a parent can lead to increased stress levels. This emotional turbulence can disrupt your sleep, leading to insomnia or restless sleep.

Consider implementing stress-management strategies, such as deep-breathing exercises, prenatal yoga, or meditation. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you feel overwhelmed. Good emotional health is not only beneficial for your sleep but also for the overall well-being of you and your baby.

Understanding these factors can empower expecting mothers to take control of their sleep. Remember, every pregnancy is unique. Listen to your body, seek advice when needed, and ensure you are giving both yourself and your baby the restful sleep you deserve.

Tips for Better Sleep During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of immense changes that can, unfortunately, affect sleep quality. Here are some tips for better sleep during pregnancy to help you and your baby rest easy.

Create a Comfortable Sleeping Environment

  • Use a Pregnancy Pillow: Specialized pillows can provide the extra support your body needs. Consider using C-shaped, U-shaped, or wedge pillows based on your preference.
  • Choose a Comfortable Mattress: Opt for a mattress that is supportive and comfy, catering to your new sleep needs.
  • Keep the Room Cool: A cooler environment often enhances sleep quality. Consider adjusting your thermostat or using a fan.

Adopt Healthy Sleep Habits

  • Stick to a Schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Consistency reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
  • Create a Bedtime Ritual: Establish a soothing pre-sleep routine like reading a book, taking a warm bath, or listening to soft music.
  • Avoid Electronic Devices: The blue light emitted by phones and tablets can interfere with your sleep. Try to avoid these devices an hour before bed.

Mind Your Diet

  • Avoid Large Meals Before Bed: Eating heavy meals can cause discomfort and heartburn. Opt for a light snack if you’re slightly hungry before bed.
  • Limit Fluid Intake in the Evening: This might help reduce the number of trips to the bathroom during the night.
  • Avoid Caffeine and Stimulants: Caffeine can interfere with your sleep. Try to avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, especially in the afternoon and evening.

Manage Stress and Anxiety

  • Practice Relaxation Techniques: Engage in deep breathing, meditation, or prenatal yoga to relax your mind.
  • Talk About Your Concerns: Share your thoughts and concerns with a partner, friend, or healthcare professional.
  • Educate Yourself: Sometimes, knowing what to expect can alleviate worries. Read up on pregnancy and childbirth.

Incorporating these tips into your daily routine can greatly improve sleep quality during pregnancy. Listen to your body, make your comfort a priority, and don’t hesitate to seek help if you need it. A well-rested mother contributes to a healthy and happy pregnancy journey.

How To Get A Decent Night’s Sleep During Pregnancy

Navigating the world of pregnancy pillows can be a daunting task, given the plethora of designs, options, and types of pillows available. From C-shaped and U-shaped pillows to adjustable pillows and wedge-shaped ones, the choice depends largely on personal comfort and specific needs.

Women during the various weeks of pregnancy may experience joint pain, body aches, and shoulder pain due to weight gain. These issues underline the need for supportive pillows that provide extra cushioning. A well-chosen type of pregnancy pillow can indeed offer a comfortable position for sleepers, ensuring decent sleep and an overall improved quality of sleep.

Another consideration is firmness. Adjustable firmness is an excellent option to consider. As your body changes, the ability to adjust the support level of your maternity pillow can keep you comfortable.

Further, pregnancy can lead to issues such as acid reflux and night sweats. A wedge-shaped pillow, for example, can alleviate acid reflux by elevating the upper body, thus promoting better blood circulation around major blood vessels. Some pillows also feature materials that help regulate body temperature, ideal for combating night sweats.

For postpartum recovery, certain kinds of pregnancy pillows, like the U-shaped one, can double as nursing pillows, providing support during breastfeeding.

The practicality of pregnancy body pillows should not be overlooked. Removable covers that are machine washable make maintenance a breeze. Simply pop the cover in the washing machine, and it’s good as new. Find out: How Long Does COVID Live on Pillows?

While choosing an expensive pregnancy pillow may seem extravagant, it’s worth considering the added benefits. Some pillows are crafted from eco-friendly materials like recycled plastic bottles, making them a sustainable choice.

And let’s not forget the added value of warranties. These provide peace of mind, assuring you that your investment in a pillow for pregnancy is protected.

In conclusion, the shape of pregnancy pillows, the type of pillow, and even the timing of use (avoid using heating pads for hours before bed, for instance) all contribute to better sleep during this critical period.

Whether you’re combatting varicose veins, navigating the challenges of postpartum, or simply seeking relief from common types of discomfort, the right pregnancy pillow can make all the difference.

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Sleeping With A Pregnancy Pillow FAQ

Can You Sleep on Your Stomach with a Pregnancy Pillow?

Yes, in early pregnancy stages, you can use a pregnancy pillow to sleep on your stomach. A doughnut-shaped pregnancy pillow can allow you to sleep on your stomach by providing a space for your belly. However, as your belly grows, this position might become uncomfortable and not recommended due to potential pressure on the fetus.

How to Sleep with a Pregnancy Pillow for Hip Pain?

A U-shaped, C-shaped, or a full-length body pillow can be useful for hip pain. These pillows can be positioned between your knees, aligning your hips to a neutral position and reducing the pressure and discomfort.

Can You Sleep on Your Back with a Pregnancy Pillow?

Sleeping flat on your back is not recommended during the later stages of pregnancy. However, you can use a pregnancy pillow to prop up your upper body, creating an inclined position. This can help prevent backaches, breathing difficulties, and digestive problems associated with back sleeping.

How to Sleep with a Pregnancy Pillow: Which is Best?

The best way to sleep with a pregnancy pillow depends on your personal comfort. However, the most common use is to cuddle it, with the pillow’s length aligned to your body, one end supporting your head, and the other end tucked between your knees for hip alignment.

What is the Best Sleeping Position During Pregnancy?

Sleeping on your side, particularly the left side, is often termed as the best sleeping position during pregnancy. This position improves blood flow, delivering more nutrients to the baby. Using a pregnancy pillow can further enhance comfort in this position.

Is it Safe to Sleep on an Inflatable Pillow During Pregnancy?

Yes, it is safe as long as it provides sufficient support and comfort. However, inflatable pillows might not offer the same level of comfort or body-contouring as other types of pregnancy pillows.

How Much Sleep Do You Need While Pregnant?

The amount of sleep needed varies among individuals. However, pregnant women often need more sleep due to the demands of pregnancy. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and consider additional short naps during the day if you feel tired.

Remember, the goal is to achieve restful, quality sleep for the well-being of you and your baby. Always listen to your body and adjust your sleeping habits and tools to cater to your unique needs during this special journey.