Unfortunately for back and stomach sleepers, side sleeping is best during pregnancy.Stomach sleeping is off the table for obvious reasons — sleeping on a beach ball that kicks isn’t particularly relaxing. But back sleeping is also discouraged since it can compress an important vein that carries blood to your baby.
That means side sleeping is the only option when you're further along in pregnancy, but your growing bump will also put increased pressure on your hips and back — and that's where a pregnancy body pillow comes in handy. These pillows provide support to different spots on your body; some to your back, others to your knees, others just to your belly and some to all of the above. Using one can make you more comfortable when you head to bed at night and help prevent aches and pains in the morning.
All pregnant people deserve quality rest, whether it is for several hours at night or a 20-minute catnap (or three) during the day. But growing a human is often an uncomfortable experience, making restful sleep tricky. Laura Erlich, fertility and obstetric specialist and founder of Mother Nurture Wellness, explains that “when it comes to pregnancy, sleep needs may change as the weeks tick by. Early pregnancy doesn’t usually require any changes to your sleep style, but as the belly grows, adjustments may be necessary.” Pregnancy pillows can help ease your bedtime pregnancy woes. Designed to support your hips, legs, and back — the parts of your body that tend to hold the most stress — Elrich explains that pregnancy pillows “allow you to tuck the lower part between your knees, keeping your hips aligned, a key to keeping the low back stable and pain-free.”
Most pillows that are marketed as pregnancy pillows are very large and deliver full-body support by way of U, C, or J shapes that help provide localized pressure relief to different parts of your body, depending on your needs. However, some pregnant people find that slimmer rectangular body pillows and wedge-shaped pillows get the job done without taking up too much space in their bed. No matter which shape you choose, the main purpose of a pregnancy pillow is to bring your head, neck, spine, and hips into a neutral position.
U-shaped pregnancy body pillow
This pregnancy pillow is the size of your body and, as the name implies, is shaped like a contoured U (with you nestled in the center). This style of pillow does it all, supporting your head, neck, back, hips, legs and bump.Depending on sleep position, you can use it to prop yourself up if you’re a back-sleeper or sandwich your front and back once you begin sleeping on your side in the second trimester, with the edge of the pregnancy pillow tucked between your legs. You can slip your arm underneath the pillow and rest your head right on top. Keep in mind that this type of pregnancy pillow will take up a good amount of space (hopefully your partner won’t mind welcoming it into your bed!).
C-shaped pregnancy body pillow
This is another type of large pregnancy body pillow, but it’s shaped like a C instead of a U. Some C-shaped pregnancy pillows curve around your entire body to support both your back and bump, while others contour your front only. This pillow is used when sleeping on your side—rest your head at the top, prop up your bump (and possibly back) with the side and tuck the bottom of the C between your legs.
Pregnancy wedge pillow
A wedge is much smaller and less expensive than other pregnancy pillows; it’s designed to support a targeted area—typically your bump or back. To use it, slip the wedge under your belly to relieve the weight of your bump, or tuck it behind you to ensure you don’t roll over flat onto your back overnight. (If you enjoy spooning with your partner but need some support for your bump, this is a great cuddle-friendly pick.)
Inflatable pregnancy pillow
This is the largest pregnancy pillow option available and can feel like a life raft (as if you need to be literally rescued from aches and pains). This option isn’t necessarily the most practical, but it can be a good choice for stomach sleepers who have exhausted the alternatives. These often have a hole in which you can rest your pregnant belly. To use, simply inflate, and settle in.
Ready to start shopping? Somewhere on this list is the best pregnancy pillow for you. A good night’s sleep is waiting!