Sometime ago when my wife was pregnant with our daughter (first time parents), she woke up middle of the night and told me she found it hard to get a night’s rest.
Her back was sore and tossing and turning around to find the best position.
The expanding bump and aching back made it hard for her to find an ideal position. Even if she found a sweet spot, it didn’t last long, and she was keeping me awake and affected my sleep too.
Sleeping during pregnancy is a nuisance. With heartburn, leg swelling, and nausea, the last thing you need is an uncomfortable bed.
However, pregnancy pillows may be of some help. They maintain the natural curve of your spine, support your shoulders and belly, as well as reduce swelling to your ankles.
It’s certainly one of the best investments you can make for your comfort. In this article, I’ll attempt to reduce your search for the best pregnancy pillow to essentials. Here are my two cents.
The Best 6 Pregnancy Pillows
Finding a pregnancy pillow that’s a good match is surely a challenge. Still, some models, you just can’t go wrong with. Here are six of my favorite pregnancy pillows.
The Leachco company has been around in the mama-baby business for 25 years, and they’ve excelled at it. Their Snoogle pregnancy total body pillow is no different. It offers great comfort as well as versatility.
For starters, it’s a C-shaped full-body pillow that, nevertheless, allows you to sleep both sideways and on your back. It has just the right combination of softness and support.
Furthermore, it’s made of non-clumping polyester filling, which is lightweight and moldable. The filling, as well as the cover, are hypoallergenic. That’s a profound feature, especially if you have sensitive skin.
On the downside, it’s considerably large. Although that comes as an advantage, it’s also a bit challenging when it comes to traveling around and storage. Moreover, it’s more expensive than other models.
Queen Rose has made it again, somehow, one of the best and most affordable full-body pillows on the market. It’s U-shaped and comes in two sizes; regular and king-sized.
U-shaped pregnancy pillows are known to be the most versatile, supporting all sleeping positions as well as breastfeeding.
Into the bargain, it’s made of adjustable loft and polyfill that ensures strength and creates a plush firm sleeping surface. The cover is a 100% cotton zippered case, which is hypoallergenic, breathable, and easy to clean.
However, some users have found Queen Rose pillow hard to get in and out of. It can also get quite lumpy with time.
The Boppy pregnancy wedge is one for minimalistic expectant moms, who’re seeking comfort without compromising on space. It does the job, no fuss no muss, and at less than 20 dollars, it’s practically a steal!
It measures 14×12 inches with a height of 4 inches. Its size is one of its greatest assets, as it can be easily carried around and used while traveling, in the car, at sleepovers, you name it!
On top of that, this small but mighty pillow offers you selective relief for different areas. You can use it below your shoulders, back, or hips. You can use it to support your bump as well.
On top of all pregnancy little annoyances, an uncomfortable sleep has got to be the worst. As a fellow stomach-sleeper, thinking of pregnancy has been a nightmare, until I came across Cozy Bump.
With an advanced patent design, this pregnancy pillow is inflatable and adjustable. It looks like an amateur floatable pool mat, but it’s Ob/Gyn and chiropractor approved.
Moreover, it’s made of a PVC material that’s phthalate-free, azo-free, and cadmium-free. It’s completely safe, but I’d still advise you to always check with your doctor.
Finally, although it takes up quite a lot of room, it can be deflated and easily stored or carried around. It’s also easily cleaned using a cloth and some dish soap, as it’s made of plastic.
Side-sleeping is said to be the healthiest for both you and your baby during pregnancy, as it increases blood flow to the placenta. This is why PharMeDoc has developed this C-shaped pregnancy pillow.
The most remarkable feature of this pregnancy pillow is its versatility. Although designed for pregnancy, it’s also useful for people with back pain, disc prolapse, or those recovering from surgery. It’s a sound investment for you and your whole family.
Back to pregnancy, it’s made of hypoallergenic polyester and covered with a 100% cotton zippered case. It’s super soft and comfortable in different positions.
Another huge plus to this pillow is that it can be rolled and manipulated into other shapes. This can help stomach sleepers and target specific areas for relief.
For over 14 years, Dreamgenii has offered a range of UK Midwife recommended pregnancy pillows. Based on a patented design, the dreamgenii pregnancy pillow will help you through a comfortable pregnancy and the pillow can be used as a feeding support pillow.
Its unique shape and design encourage you to sleep on the left side, in the recovery position and believed if used regularly from the second trimester, can encourage the baby to get into the optimum position for birth.
Dreamgenii is also designed to provide utmost support for your back and additional comfort and support for your bump, hips and knees. The result is restful, comfortable night sleep which is something most moms-to-be yearn for as pregnancy progresses, sleeping becomes more difficult.
Dreamgenii is popular amongst moms for its comfort and effectiveness. It is no wonder that Dreamgenii is a multi award winning pregnancy pillow for many years now.
Why do you need a pregnancy pillow?
When you enter the 2nd trimester of pregnancy, your baby is starting to grow and develop into from a tiny into a fetus.
This is where your body will experience major shifts and changes.
Your body will grow, the baby bump will start to appear in early 2nd trimester and will continue to grow bigger.
When your belly is growing, your clothes are getting tighter and gaining weight, you will start to feel like your joints are stretching and every part of your body feels sore.
The extra weight you are carrying will naturally add burden to your lower back and spine hence a good cushion, mattress or pillow will be able to support when you rest. Rest is important during your pregnancy.
This is where getting a good pregnancy pillow can help you feel better, reduce your soreness and most importantly getting a good night’s rest. A good pillow can help you position yourself comfortably and help support your growing bump & aching joints (from round ligament pain)
Also, some pregnancy pillows can be used as a nursing / feeding pillow after you delivered and start to breast feed. (your arms and back will thank you later)!)
Of course, if you have nagging back pain and having a pregnancy pillow is not enough, here are a few ways to help you with your back pain during pregnancy.
How to Choose the Best Pregnancy Pillow?
Figuring out what works for you on your first pregnancy is no easy feat. I feel you. I’ve been there. All that chatter about pillow types, sizes, and materials does get confusing.
In this section, I’ll explain, to the best of my knowledge, what I’ve amounted to during my journey. Buckle up.
Type is the first feature that meets the eye. There are several types from which you get to choose, which frankly might be confusing. Here are the most popular of these types.
A full-body pillow is a pregnancy pillow that offers support all-around, especially to target areas liable to strain and fatigue.
Moreover, body pillows can be used outside the scope of pregnancy. You can use them after a c-section for better scar healing and pain relief. Additionally, they can be used as feeding pillows or for baby’s tummy time.
There are three main types you want to look into before purchase, namely U-shaped, C-shaped, and I-shaped body pillows, among others. The type goes hand-in-hand with your sleeping position.
U-Shaped Body Pillow
The U-shaped body pillow is incredibly versatile. It can be used as an all-purpose pillow, suitable for all sleeping positions.
It helps you maintain proper alignment for your neck and back in addition to offering support for your knees and hips. It wraps around your entire body, backing both sides.
It’s adaptable to different sleeping positions, from hugging it while on your side, to lying on your back. Whatever sleeping position you like the most, it’ll be there to support your belly and relieve shoulder pain.
On the downside, it can be somewhat space-consuming, which isn’t always ideal for everyone. It’s important to consider the dimensions of your bed before purchase. If your bed is on the smaller side, maybe opt for another type of pillow.
C-Shaped Body Pillow
C-shaped body pillows are a bit more limiting. They’re tailored for side sleepers as they leave more room for your belly on the side. A C-shaped pillow is the same as the U-shaped body pillow in many aspects, offering the same support and occupying the same space.
You rest your head at the top of the C and put the base in between your legs. This position ensures support for both your back and pregnancy bump.
It’s especially useful in the third trimester when your tummy needs more space. This helps in relieving pressure on your bladder and chest.
I-Shaped Body Pillow
An I-shaped body pillow’s name is self-explanatory. It’s an elongated thin pillow that offers support for your shoulder and thighs. This can relieve shoulder strain and prevent ankle swelling.
On the other side, it doesn’t offer much back support, which is counterproductive for pregnancy back pain.
There are many less commonly used full-body pillows, albeit just as comfortable and supportive.
These include ‘J,’ ‘L,’ ‘E,’ and ‘O’ body pillows. Maybe look into the different shapes, or better yet, try them out before buying.
A wedge pillow is a pillow shaped like a tapered block with a taller and a shorter side. It can be put below your shoulders, back, waist, hips, or legs. Whatever works!
Further, it can be used with different sleeping positions, whether you’re a side-sleeper or a back-sleeper. You can use it as a side cuddle, for back and shoulder pain relief, or to prevent pregnancy heartburn. We all know that’s the worst!
Although it doesn’t offer support on par with full-body pillows, it’s much more affordable and flexible. It’s also small, which works perfectly for both traveling and using on your bed. You don’t want to kick your partner out, now do you?
While a knee pillow isn’t particularly a pregnancy pillow, it works perfectly as such. It’s actually quite popular, too.
As the name implies, it’s very helpful to be put between the knees for pain relief. Pregnancy joint pain is definitely a drag!
While your sleeping position doesn’t say a lot about you per se, it says a lot about the pillow arrangement you should go for. As the NYT puts it, a good position is your next position. You’re not supposed to lie motionless all night long.
If you’re one to toss and turn during your sleep, consider a U-shaped body pillow, a wedge pillow or a knee pillow. However, if you have a certain sleeping position, such as side-sleeping or stomach-sleeping, go for a designated pillow for that position.
Determining the appropriate size of your pillow depends on your comfort, budget, and space. Consider the size of your bed, the space left for your partner, and the room you have for storage.
Is it practical to buy a full-body pillow? Do you have a large storage room? Do you want your partner to sleep on the couch? All valid questions!
Nevertheless, also consider that size isn’t synonymous with support or comfort. Sometimes it’s a burden. Body pillows can feel claustrophobic and cause overheating, we all know how bad pregnancy night sweats are already!
Material is a complex concept. It can be broken down into many aspects; sensitivity, filling, and breathability.
As your body changes during pregnancy, you become more and more sensitive to some fibers. Some wake up with the sniffles, others find it hard to breathe, especially if asthmatic.
Always make it your priority to look for pillows made with hypoallergenic materials, especially if you have sensitive skin or any allergies. Thank me later!
A good way to figure out filling for yourself is to match the filling you have for a regular pillow. If it works for your neck, it works for your whole body.
A general rule of thumb is less filling means softer, more flexible pillows that are overall more comfortable. However, don’t just follow that blindly. If firm pillows work for you, listen to your body.
There are several options, the most popular of which are organic, polyester fiber, micro-bead, and memory foam. Each one of them has its pros and cons.
On one side, natural fillings are free of potentially toxic materials found in many foams fillings. They’re also remarkably breathable.
On the downside, some find that natural materials tend to have an odor that doesn’t fully go away.
Polyester Fiber Filling
Polyester is one of the most popular materials used in pillow fillings. It’s a combination of softness, affordability, and lightweight. It’s also notably easy to clean.
Having said that, polyester has its drawbacks, and they’re quite considerable. It’s not breathable and can feel very warm. Additionally, it’s not malleable and clumps easily, which isn’t very comfortable in the long term.
Microbeads are teeny tiny balls, just around 1/32 inch wide. They’re used to fill up pillows and feel a bit like sand. They’re remarkably malleable and breathable, giving you comfort and coolness.
One limitation though is their rapid degeneration and short life span. You might want to invest in something that would likely last longer. Moreover, it does have a chemical odor that not only can exacerbate allergies but can also cause harm to your baby.
Memory Foam Filling
Memory foam is known to be incredibly supportive, as it takes the shape of the body part pressed against it. It’s firm and malleable, quickly regaining its original shape.
However, it makes you prone to overheating, which is hard to tolerate on its own, let alone with pregnancy night sweats. It also thins and softens when body heat is absorbed, leading to non-uniformity.
Cool and Breathable Materials
During pregnancy, your blood flow increases, which can lead to you feeling hotter and getting night sweats. It’s the cherry on top of the cake that is pregnancy.
Try to avoid materials like polyester and memory foam if you feel like you’re prone to this problem. Moreover, look for pillows with covers made of cotton or bamboo, rather than polyester.
Cover and Cleaning
Pregnancy pillows are hard to clean, no surprise here. They’re big and uniquely-shaped. You can’t easily fit them inside a washing machine or even a sink.
This is why you should always go for pillows with removable zippered covers. You can just remove the case every week or two and throw it in the washer.
Pregnancy pillows have a wide range of pricing, from $15 for wedge pillows to $100 or more for full-body pillows. You can also find full-body pillows for as low as $40. There’s something for everyone, don’t fret!
Looking for a warranty when buying pillows might sound silly, but when it comes to pregnancy pillows, it’s crucial. There are even some companies offering a warranty for up to 5 years after purchase.
Sleeping during pregnancy, like everything else during pregnancy, is a challenge. However, pregnancy pillows are there for the rescue.
If I have to pick my favorite one all over again, it’d be Leachco Snoogle Original Maternity/Pregnancy Total Body Pillow. It’s just the right combination of everything you need as a first time expectant mother; softness, safety, and versatility.
That’s not so easy to come by now, is it? It’s also durable, which makes it a wise investment for any future pregnancies.
Alternatively, if you’re on a tight budget, consider looking into QUEEN ROSE Pregnancy Pillow. It’s on par with luxurious pregnancy pillows, for a fraction of the cost.