All information on this article is checked for the accurracy. Learn more about our process here

How to use a Pregnancy Pillow – Expert Tips [2021 Updated]

Pregnancy pillows, also known as maternity pillows, are specially designed with the objective to provide support to the changing body shape of the to-be-mothers, during sleep or while sitting. 

These pillows can be helpful to promote relaxation, better sleep, and proper body posture. They can also reduce body pains and aches. These are available in various sizes and shapes to meet different preferences. 

In this article, we will discuss how to use a pregnancy pillow, how to find the right product, and also some other related essential points to help you make the best out of it. 

How to use a pregnancy pillow?

The exact use of a pregnancy pillow depends on its type and shape. Generally, you place a pregnancy pillow either underneath specific areas of your body for extra support or around your whole body, depending on the type of pillow you are using.

Here are the different types of pregnancy pillows and instructions on how to use each one of them in the right way.

  1. Wedge pregnancy pillow
  2. Full-length pregnancy pillow  
  3. C-shaped pregnancy pillow 
  4. U-shaped pregnancy pillow 

Different Types of Pregnancy Pillows

Wedge pregnancy pillow

These handy pillows are available in multiple shapes and sizes. They make a useful choice if you need localized support for the back or the growing belly. These are a space saver on the bed and are inexpensive. So, if you don’t want to spend a lot on the pillow, wedges make the right choice. You can also use them for support while traveling or sitting on a chair. 

Using wedge pillows is simple. You just need to place the pillow under the area where you need extra support and relax. You can also use multiple wedges to create the right support as per your needs. 

Full-length pregnancy pillow  

As the name suggests, these pillows cover the full length of the body and you can choose one according to your height. These are ideal if you are habituated to sleep on your side and you do not move much, as the support is available only at one side. While changing sides, you will need to carry the pillow to the other side with you.  

Place the pillow on your bed and wrap your hands and legs around it, pull closer, and relax. The flexible full-length pillow should take the shape of our body and provide support. 

C-shaped pregnancy pillow   

A C-shaped pregnancy pillow supports your whole body – head, neck, back, legs, and tummy. These are truly effective to make sleeping more comfortable during the final trimester or advanced stage of pregnancy when the belly has grown big. But make no mistake, these will take a lot of space on the bed and limit your movement during sleep. If you sleep on one side and do not move much, these are a good choice. 

To use the C-shaped maternity pillow, place it on the bed and then position your back towards the curved part of the C-shape. Place your head on the top of the ‘C’ and take the bottom of the pillow between your thighs. The lower part of the open end of the ‘C’ should reach up to your belly and support it.

U-shaped pregnancy pillow 

U-shaped pillows offer complete body support. They practically embrace you from all sides, so that you can sleep comfortably. The best thing about U-shaped maternity pillows is that you can normally twist and turn while sleeping. It works for side sleepers as well as back sleepers. 

Place the pillow on the bed with the open end of the ‘U’ towards your legs. You can place your head on the top of the pillow and snuggle with the side. As the pillow has the same shape on both sides, to change sides, you just need to turn your body without having to move the pillow. 

Do you need a pregnancy pillow?       

Sleep often becomes elusive during pregnancy. At least 50% of pregnant women  [1]suffer from insomnia. In pregnant women, normal sleep is disturbed by a multitude of factors. Nausea, vomiting, need to urinate frequently, leg cramps, breast tenderness, anxiety, stress, and general discomfort are some common reasons that hamper sleep quality. 

Towards the advanced stages of pregnancy, an expecting mother often finds it difficult to reach a comfortable sleeping position, which again affects sleep. As the belly starts to grow bigger during the late second and third trimester, it causes strain on the back, leading to lower back pain. 

The growing belly also disrupts the proper posture which naturally leads to body pain. Many women suffer from round ligament pain, lower back pain, and sciatica nerve pain during pregnancy. 

Aches and pains coupled with lack of sleep considerably affect the health and quality of life of expecting mothers. Maternity pillows can do a great job in promoting better sleep and minimizing body pains and aches by providing better support. 

They also help to ensure proper blood circulation during sleep. The pillows ensure a good posture during sleep and offer extra support where needed. They help the expecting mother to find a comfortable sleeping position, which is important for better sleep. 

Anything that can help you to improve your life quality during the crucial 9 months of 

pregnancy is always worth the investment. That said, it is certainly not an essential item, you cannot do without.    

How to choose the right pregnancy pillow? 

Getting the right pregnancy pillow is essential for the best comfort. Before you buy, consider the following,

Size

Pregnancy pillows are available in a variety of sizes and you need to pick one that meets most of your requirements. Consider the available space on the bed and if you will prefer spot support or full-body support. 

Will you be traveling with the pillow and where you will be storing the pillow when not in use –  are some other factors you should think of before making your choice about the size. 

Shape  

From small circular wedges to full-body U or C-shaped – maternity pillows are available in unique shapes. You should consider your preferred sleeping style and your support needs to decide the right shape of the pillow. 

Keep in mind, even if you prefer sleeping on your back[2], during the second and third trimester of pregnancy, you are advised to sleep on your left side. So, choose the pillow shape accordingly. 

Fabric 

While buying your pregnancy pillow do not miss to ask about the fabric. Check out if it comes with a removable cover that can be washed at home as per need. Make sure that the fabric is breathable, feels comfortable against your skin, and is easy to clean, dry, and maintain. 

Stick to natural fabrics. Cotton is always the top choice. Silk is also good but pure silk is naturally fragile and any silk mix with synthetic materials will not give the desired level of comfort. 

Filling  

The filling of the pillow is another essential factor to consider as it is directly related to the level of comfort. From natural cotton filling to styrofoam, microbeads, wool, memory foam, polyester, and air – all types of fillings are available in maternity pillows. 

You should pick one according to your preferred comfort level. The air-filled pillows are usually inflatable, so you can adjust the height during use and storage is also simple. However, they might not feel as comfortable as wool, cotton or microbead filling.      

Noise

If you are a light sleeper, which most pregnant women are, you should consider the noise aspect of the pillow too. The crinkling of seeds or beads inside the pillow or the rustling of the cover might feel loud when you are sleeping on it and hinder your sleep. 

Budget

The price of a pregnancy pillow depends on the features. An alphabet shape pillow will be naturally more expensive than a full-length straight pillow or widgets. The price will also depend on the filling and fabric. The widgets are the most inexpensive options from the lot. However, it is advised not to compromise with your comfort for the price. 

Pro tip 

While buying a maternity pillow, keep in mind that there is no one size fits all theory, and if something has worked well with your friend or sister it does not necessarily mean that it will work for you too. Before you go shopping, it is best to try out loose pillows around you in a few different setups to find out what makes you most comfortable. Once you know what type of support suits you best, you can make a specific choice.  

Conclusion    

Pregnancy pillows can make sleeping during pregnancy more comfortable, improving sleep quality and day-to-day life during this crucial phase. The right pillow can also help to reduce backache and body pain.

If you normally prefer sleeping on your stomach, which might be harmful to the baby during pregnancy, a maternity pillow will ensure that you comfortably sleep in a posture that is healthy for you and the baby. The pillows are available in different budgets, sizes, styles, types, and fillings. The use is pretty straightforward and depends on the type of pillow you choose.

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Felder, J.N., Baer, R.J., Rand, L., Jelliffe-Pawlowski, L.L. and Prather, A.A. (2017). Sleep Disorder Diagnosis During Pregnancy and Risk of Preterm Birth. Obstetrics & Gynecology, [online] 130(3), pp.573–581. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28796676/ [Accessed 26 Apr. 2021].
  2. ‌O’Brien, L.M. and Warland, J. (2014). Typical sleep positions in pregnant women. Early Human Development, [online] 90(6), pp.315–317. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4005859/ [Accessed 26 Apr. 2021].
Ananya Lahiri

Aricle by:

Ananya Lahiri

Ananya Lahiri holds a Bachelor's degree in Life Sciences and a Master's degree in Bioinformatics. She is also the published author of several Health & Wellness blogs, guides, and e-books. With years of experience in the education and e-learning industry, she is keen on sharing information that can help people in making informed choices. Ananya is an avid dog lover with a specific interest in Huskies and GSDs. She is also a certified translator and holds a certificate in digital marketing. Apart from Health and Medical, Ananya also enjoys writing on tech, fashion, and beauty niches. She has crafted study materials for Cosmetology & Nursing courses.

Aricle by:

Ananya Lahiri

Ananya Lahiri holds a Bachelor's degree in Life Sciences and a Master's degree in Bioinformatics. She is also the published author of several Health & Wellness blogs, guides, and e-books. With years of experience in the education and e-learning industry, she is keen on sharing information that can help people in making informed choices. Ananya is an avid dog lover with a specific interest in Huskies and GSDs. She is also a certified translator and holds a certificate in digital marketing. Apart from Health and Medical, Ananya also enjoys writing on tech, fashion, and beauty niches. She has crafted study materials for Cosmetology & Nursing courses.

Avatar
Written by:
Keith Myers

Keith J. Myers is Editor in Chief of the Health Canal. He has overseen and directed the editorial growth and skill of this website since 2012. Before joining Health Canal, Keith was a writer and editor who covered topics in CBD, health, science, and wellness.