How To Use Pregnancy Pillow - Types & Their Benefits

How To Use Pregnancy Pillow – Types & Their Benefits

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rima Sonpal (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

Are you tired of tossing and turning at night, struggling to find a comfortable sleeping position during pregnancy? Look no further than the trusty pregnancy pillow! Regular mattresses are not designed to comfort a pregnant woman, and it may lead to body aches and hinder her sleep. This is where a pregnancy pillow comes in handy. One crucial aspect that needs attention is the sleeping position of the mother. Partners go through many sleepless nights to ensure the mother does not sleep in an awkward position that could harm the baby. The pregnancy pillow is a versatile and supportive pillow that can help alleviate aches and pains, promote better sleep, and even double as a nursing pillow once your baby arrives. Get ready for a restful night’s sleep with our guide on how to use a pregnancy pillow.

Video: Pregnancy Pillow – Benefits, Types and How to Use?

What Is a Maternity Pillow?

A maternity or pregnancy pillow is designed to suit and support the changing contours and curves of the body during pregnancy and offer support for various sleeping positions. They are designed to support the entire body and are much longer than the usual pillows. A maternity pillow makes sleeping more comfortable during pregnancy. It is beneficial in the later stages of pregnancy when sleeping in a normal position becomes a real challenge.

4 Benefits of Using a Pregnancy Pillow

The most obvious benefit of a pregnancy pillow is that it helps the woman sleep better by supporting the body. Following are some other benefits observed when you start using a pregnancy pillow:

1. Alleviates body aches and pains

As body weight increases during pregnancy, it puts stress and pressure on the back, hips and legs. Resting these body parts is crucial; that is only possible if you can sleep in a good position. A pregnancy pillow will support and comfort these parts and ensure proper rest, relieving the aches and pain.

2. Enhances the circulation of blood

Sleeping on your sides promotes blood circulation, and it is recommended for pregnant women. Sleeping sideways might be uncomfortable for a pregnant woman due to her growing belly. Owing to its soft cushioning, a pregnancy pillow allows you to sleep comfortably sideways, easing up and promoting blood circulation in the body.

3. Better, more relaxed, and longer sleeping hours

Good rest is the key to a safe pregnancy, and a maternity pillow will allow you to sleep better and for longer hours.

4. Helpful after delivery

A maternity pillow will be useful even after the baby’s birth as it will help you put your baby in the right position during breastfeeding to learn how to latch properly.

When Can You Start Using a Pregnancy Pillow?

While there is no fixed time to start using a pregnancy pillow, you can use it when you feel uncomfortable while changing positions during your sleep. At around 20 weeks of pregnancy, the belly expands, causing pain in the ligaments and other body parts due to increased weight. This is a good time to start using a maternity pillow.

Different Types of Pregnancy Pillows & How to Use Them?

There are several types of pregnancy pillows, and they come in different shapes and sizes. Each variety of pillow caters to a different set of needs. A maternity pillow should be selected after assessing and understanding the discomfort. Every pregnancy is different, and so are the challenges associated with it. The type of pillow required will differ from case to case. Following are the types of maternity pillows available:

1. Pregnancy wedge pillow

The pregnancy wedge pillow, also known as a maternity cushion, is the smallest of the pillows available. This pillow can be used during or post-pregnancy. A round wedge pillow and a triangular wedge pillow are two types of pregnancy wedge pillows available.

Pregnancy wedge pillow

How to use it?

It can be placed under the tummy or behind the back to provide the necessary support while sleeping on your stomach or sideways. The pillow can also be used as your standard pillow. It will assist in relieving heartburn and reflux as it raises your head above average body height.

2. Full-length pregnancy pillow

These long pregnancy pillows provide a cushion to the entire body. These pillows offer comfort to the arms and legs and support the tummy. While this type of pillow is suitable for hugging and embracing, it does not support the back significantly. Straight and flexible full-length pregnancy pillows are two types of pregnancy pillows.

full-length pregnancy pillow

How to use it?

The full-length pregnancy pillows are designed to hug and cuddle. Unlike other pregnancy pillows, they cannot be placed under the tummy or behind the back. You can wrap your arms and legs around the pillow by placing your belly at the centre of the pillow.

3. Total body pregnancy pillows

With a height of five to six inches, these pillows are perfect for women of any height. It is ideal to be used during the second trimester as it provides immense support to the spine and helps reduce hip and back pain.

There are two types of total body pillows:

 I) C-shaped pillow

As the name indicates, the pillow is shaped like the letter C and provides support to the head, tummy, legs and back.

total body C-shaped pillow

How to use it?

This pillow is useful for those who like to sleep in a riding position. You can place your head on the top of the pillow and slide your back into the curve.

II) U-shaped pillow

The U-shaped pregnancy pillow is suitable for those who prefer sleeping on their back but cannot sleep in this position due to an increase in their belly size. It offers support to the entire body, including the tummy and the back.

total body U-shaped pillow

How to use it?

Like C-shaped pillows, the top of a U-shaped pillow can rest the head and slide your body into it. You can wrap your legs around one of the sides and sleep.

4. Bean-shaped pregnancy pillow

This pillow has a unique, bean-shaped design that provides targeted support to your hips and back. 

How to use it?

To use it, place the pillow on your bed or couch, and lie on your side with the curve of the pillow against your back. You can then tuck the bottom of the pillow between your knees for added support.

5. Inflatable pregnancy pillow

This type of pillow is great for travel, as it can be deflated and easily packed in your luggage. 

How to use it?

To use it, simply inflate the pillow to your desired firmness, and place it underneath your belly or behind your back for support. Some inflatable pregnancy pillows also come with a removable cover for easy cleaning.

6. Adjustable pregnancy pillow

This type of pillow allows you to customize the level of support and comfort you need by adding or removing layers of padding. 

How to use it?

To use this pillow, simply position the pillow on your bed, and adjust the layers to your desired level of firmness and support. You can then lie on your side and position the pillow to support your belly, hips, and back. Some adjustable pregnancy pillows also contain extra attachments, such as a detachable headrest or a side pocket for storing small items.No matter which type of pregnancy pillow you choose, it’s important to ensure it provides adequate support to your growing belly, hips, and back, and helps you maintain a comfortable sleeping position throughout the night. Experiment with different pillow types and positions to find what works best for you and your body by understanding different ways to use pregnancy pillow. 

The pregnancy sleeping pillow is a convenient and useful accessory for women having body aches and back pains, so getting a good night’s sleep becomes challenging.

How to Choose the Right Pregnancy Pillow?

Different pregnancy pillows serve different purposes; hence, a pregnancy pillow can be picked only after you have ascertained your requirements. You need to analyse the following points before buying your pregnancy pillow.

1. Can the pillow cover be removed and washed or changed?

Cleanliness is an important aspect to be kept in mind while the pregnancy is progressing. A lot of sweat is generated during pregnancy, and the pillow cover will absorb it. A removable pillow cover will allow you to keep the pillow clean and maintain hygiene.

2. Identify the filling in the pillow

Pillows are generally filled with different materials with their own characteristics. The filling in the pillow will impact the comfort and quality of your sleep.

Following are the different types of material that are filled in a pillow:

  • Polyester fibre filling:- One of the most popular fillings for a pillow, polyester fibre is soft and provides good support to the body. The degree of firmness of the pillow can be altered by changing the quantity of fibre filling. While it is a very versatile and useful material, it tends to absorb heat and trap dust and bacteria and is not recommended for those with dust allergies. It has a short lifespan as it lasts for about two years only.
  • Styrofoam ball filling:- Cheaper than other varieties of pillows, styrofoam balls are tiny white balls that are also filled in bean bags. Pillows made up of this material are light and air-filled, allowing them to easily adapt to your body contours to provide extra support and cushioning. However, these pillows are not suitable for extended sleep.
  • Filling of microbeads:- These are small, lightweight balls that feel like sand inside the pillow. Very soft and smooth, one can move around these pillows easily and quickly.
  • Memory foam pillow:- Memory foam pillows are firm and take the shape of your body when slept on. They provide good support to the body and reduce body aches and pains.
  • Buckwheat-filled pillow:- These pillows are filled with buckwheat hulls stuffed in a cotton bag. Buckwheat pillows are organic and decrease the chances of allergies and heat build-up. Buckwheat pillows are durable and can be used for more than a decade.
  • Therapeutic pillow:- Experts highly recommend this pillow for pregnant women. The pillow is made up of water inside the polyester pouch. This construction provides excellent support to the head and helps in cases of neck pain.
  • Pillow with organic filling:- Organic pillows are filled with natural materials like wool, bamboo, fibre, and kapok. These pillows are environmentally friendly, free from chemicals, and suitable for women who have a dust allergy. The drawback of organic pillows is that they are not easy to clean and lose their original shape after one use.

3. Size of the pillow

A bigger pillow will occupy more bed space and will be heavier to lift. A big pillow is suitable for those who keep moving their head around while asleep.

4. Noise and smell of the pillow

Some pillows make an awkward noise when you move around on them. Pillows filled with styrofoam should be avoided if you are a light sleeper, as they will make a noise. Also, pillows that are not organic will smell of chemicals. It is essential to evaluate these two characteristics as they will affect you daily.

5. The degree of softness of the pillow

Different people prefer different levels of firmness in a pillow. Soft pillows should be avoided as they may not provide proper support. Firm pillows are better when it comes to giving support to the head and the body.

6. Hypoallergenic pillows

Hypoallergenic pillows are ideal for those who are susceptible to allergies from dust. It is essential to keep allergies at bay during pregnancy; these pillows will help achieve that.

7. Pillows to match body type and sleeping position

The selection of a pregnancy pillow also depends on the body type and preferred sleeping position. Listed below are some of the body type and sleeping position combinations with the ideal pillow choice:

  • Pillows for plus-sized women: C-shaped pillows are ideal for plus-sized women. The design of the pillow will allow you to fit in comfortably.
  • Petite women: Total petite body pillows are perfect for short women.
  • Pillow for those who sleep on the sides: There are many different pillows for those who sleep sideways.
  • Pillows for back sleepers: While it is better not to sleep on the back, if you do, you can use the snoogle pregnancy pillow is a good pregnancy pillow to opt for. The snoogle supports the head, neck, back, hips, and belly by taking the shape of the pregnant woman’s body and providing comfort.
  • Pillow for those who sleep on the stomach: Sleeping on the stomach can cause body aches and snoring problems. A shredded memory foam or bamboo pillow is the best option for those who like sleeping on their stomachs.
  • Pillow for women pregnant with twins: U-shaped pillows are the best type of pillows for women pregnant with twins as the tummy is bigger and a larger pillow will offer better support.

Selecting the right pregnancy pillow might be tricky as it requires careful multiple factors assessments. After using a pillow, if you feel uncomfortable, you should discontinue its use immediately.

Tips to Improve Sleep During Pregnancy

  • Eat small meals before going to bed, as it will help you avoid the problem of heartburn and acid reflux. It is also best to avoid spicy and fatty foods as they disturb digestion.
  • Stay active during the day by exercising and doing yoga. The exercise will improve blood circulation in your body and also help you sleep well.
  • Drink a lot of fluids during the day but don’t drink a lot before going to bed, as waking up in the middle of the night will disturb your sleep.


1. Why Do Regular Pillows Not Work for Pregnant Women?

Why Do Regular Pillows Not Work for Pregnant Women

Regular pillows might not support a pregnant woman as they are not designed to do that. Regular pillows might slide around as you sleep, causing discomfort and body aches. However, if you are used to your pillow and comfortable using it during pregnancy, you should continue using it.

2. How Are Pregnancy Pillows and Body Pillows Different?

Pregnancy pillows are designed specifically to support the changing body shape and size of pregnant women―they have the necessary curves and contours to match the shape of a pregnant woman. On the other hand, body pillows are long and straight. While some pregnant women feel comfortable using a body pillow, others prefer pregnancy pillows because of their comforting and adapting shape.

3. Should You Sleep on Your Back With a Pregnancy Pillow?

While sleeping on your back is not recommended during pregnancy, using a pregnancy pillow to support your body can help alleviate some pressure on your back and hips. However, it’s still important to try and sleep on your side to promote healthy blood flow to the uterus and growing baby.

4. Can I Sleep on My Stomach With a Pregnancy Pillow?

Sleeping on your stomach is generally not recommended during pregnancy as it can pressure your growing belly and cause discomfort. While a pregnancy pillow can support and help alleviate some of this pressure, it’s still best to try to sleep on your side for optimal comfort and safety.

5. How to Use a Pregnancy Pillow for Hip Pain?

If you’re experiencing hip pain during pregnancy, using a pregnancy pillow can help support and alleviate some discomfort. Position a pregnancy pillow for hip pain between your legs and tuck it against your body. This will help align your hips and reduce pressure on the joints.

6. Can Pregnancy Pillows Help You Sleep on Your Side?

Yes, pregnancy pillows are designed to help women sleep comfortably on their sides during pregnancy. A pregnancy pillow can help alleviate discomfort and help you maintain a comfortable sleeping position throughout the night by supporting the belly, hips, and back.

While a pillow might seem insignificant for a pregnant woman, it is an essential accessory that can provide better comfort and support. Selecting the right kind of pillow after assessing the mother’s needs is crucial. The right pillow will also help reduce body and backache, which is caused due to an increase in weight during pregnancy. Above all, it will ensure that the mother-to-be sleeps comfortably, which is essential for the well-being of the mother and the baby.


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2. Thomas. IL, Nicklin. J, Pollock. H; Evaluation of a maternity cushion (Ozzlo pillow) for backache and insomnia in late pregnancy; PubMed Central;; May 1989

3. Do You Need a Pregnancy Pillow?; RMC Health System;

4. Noyed. D, Best Pregnancy Pillows; Sleep Foundation,

5. 8 Best Ways to Improve Sleep During Your Pregnancy; Cleveland Clinic;; May 2019 

Also Read:

Sleeping on Back during Pregnancy
Is It Safe to Sleep on the Floor in Pregnancy?
Sleep on Right Side during Pregnancy – Is it Safe?

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