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When To Start Using a Pregnancy Pillow (And Are They Necessary?)

When To Start Using a Pregnancy Pillow (And Are They Necessary?)

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Are you pregnant and having increasing difficulty sleeping comfortably throughout the night? Maybe you’re having pains in your back, or you just can’t find a comfortable position to sleep in. Could a pregnancy pillow help you sleep again?

Although a pregnancy pillow is not required for you to sleep during your varying stages of fetal development, many women consider it an essential comfort item and necessary for a good night’s sleep. Generally, women begin finding it difficult to switch positions during the night around week twenty. A common remedy for that is a pregnancy pillow.

Keep reading for more information about pregnancy pillows and how they may be able to help you sleep, as well as some information about how to choose the right one for your pregnancy.

What is a Pregnancy Pillow?

Pregnancy pillows are not an absolute necessity, but there are many women (and their husbands!) who may swear that they are.

A pregnancy pillow is a larger-than-normal pillow designed to provide support to pregnant women while relaxing and sleeping. These pillows contour the body and shape to give support where it is most needed. Unlike regular rectangular body pillows, pregnancy pillows can support more in terms of your whole body.

Pregnancy pillows come in several different shapes, sizes, and are made of several different materials.

Pregnancy Pillow Type

Pregnancy pillows are not just the standard pillows you’re used to having on your bed. They are designed specifically for pregnant women and their rapidly growing bodies.

Although they are different than regular body pillows, there are several different factors that provide a clear difference between regular and pregnancy pillows.

Types of pregnancy pillows

Pillow TypeSpecifications
U-Shaped Body Pillow
(Full body pillow)
Offers support to your head, neck, back, hips, and legs while keeping your neck and back aligned properly and keeping everything parallel throughout the night. Supports both back and front during use.
C-Shaped Body Pillow
(Full body pillow)
Supports your head, neck, back, hips, and legs while keeping your neck and back aligned properly and keeping everything parallel throughout the night. Supports only front side during use.
Wedge Pillow
(Small support)
Smaller pillows that allow you to maneuver them into various positions to support singular areas of pain or discomfort.
For example: if you have back pain because your back is slightly twisted you can slide this pillow underneath your stomach to realign your spine and relieve the pain.
Side Sleeper
(Small support)
Provides support to both the stomach and back, allowing for side sleepers to enjoy the comfort and soundness of laying on your side while keeping your back and neck aligned properly.

Pregnancy Pillow Materials

Pregnancy pillows not only come in different shapes and sizes but are also composed of different types of material to aid in the support each pillow provides.

Each material has its own benefits for support and comfort.

Pregnancy Pillow Materials

Memory FoamMemory foam contours well to the body, giving firmer support while molding to the curves of your body. Airflow is more restricted with this material, and it generally holds in more heat. Due to this it is most commonly found to be used in smaller pregnancy pillows.
Polyester FiberfillPolyester Fiberfill is made out of polyester. This material is softer than most and so it promotes a softer supportive comfort that allows for more airflow throughout. This material is commonly found in larger pregnancy pillows.
MicrobeadsThis material is comprised of small bead-like balls that are made up of polystyrene. It is great for contouring and supporting multiple areas of the body. Microbeads allow for good airflow and do not hold like other fill options. Generally found in smaller pregnancy pillows.
PolyfoamPolyfoam provides some support and contouring while being a bit firmer than memory foam. This along with slight airflow issues allows for more robust support for your back and stomach. Material is commonly found in larger pregnancy pillows.

Do You Need a Pregnancy Pillow?

Pregnancy pillows are specifically designed to fit and provide the appropriate level of comfort needed for pregnant women, whereas regular pillows are designed to rest your head, feet, and other appendages on your body.

Pregnancy pillows are not required for you to sleep during your pregnancy, although many women find it difficult to sleep comfortably without some kind of support.

The RMC Health System states, “Sleeping on your side promotes blood circulation, something that’s extremely important for pregnant women. Even if you’re used to sleeping on your side, it can become uncomfortable with your growing belly. A pregnancy pillow will give you more cushioning to contour to your changing body.”

How Much Are Pregnancy Pillows?

A lot of people probably expect pregnancy pillows to be incredibly pricey, way out of their pay range, seeing as there is so much else that needs to be purchased during the pregnancy to provide for your upcoming baby.

While prices will vary depending on the type of pregnancy pillow you choose, they’re generally in the $30-$70 range.

These pregnancy pillows can be found in several different vendors such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target. Amongst the brand-name pillow websites:,, and to name a few.

Are Pregnancy Pillows Worth the Money?

Pregnancy pillows are, in my opinion, a must-have for pregnant women struggling to sleep at night.

Seeing as it is not good to sleep on your back due to potentially blocking off a vital vein that leads to the fetus, and sleeping on your stomach becomes impossible as pregnancy progresses, most pregnant women become side sleepers out of necessity, whether it’s their preferred position or not.

However, side sleeping can also be uncomfortable during pregnancy, which is where pregnancy pillows come in. Standard pillows can be used in a pinch, but aren’t designed to offer the level of support required for a good night’s sleep.

Most pregnancy pillows are fairly inexpensive and are generally less money than standard pillows, meaning you get more bang for your buck!

Can You Use a Body Pillow as a Pregnancy Pillow?

Body pillows can offer good support to someone who is looking for an alternative to the bulky pregnancy pillows that just take up so much space in the bed.

Although they still offer some support, body pillows are bulky and do not offer the level of support that pregnancy pillows can.

You may use a body pillow as a pregnancy pillow if you have one available, or do not wish to have the extra support and comfort that a pregnancy pillow offers. Full-body pillows offer support to the head, neck, arms, and legs whereas pregnancy pillows offer support to your hips and back also.

For example, A U-shaped pillow supports the head, neck, back, hips, and legs on both sides of you. A body pillow will support most of these but only on one side and due to their bulkiness, they will not conform to your exact needs as a pregnancy pillow will.

How to Use a Pregnancy Pillow for Back Pain

Are you experiencing a lot of back pain, whether it be during the day while relaxing, or at night when trying to sleep? Maybe you need some added support to help you relieve some of that pain.

When sleeping normally, our neck and back can fall out of alignment. A good way to correct that is to use a pregnancy pillow to provide the proper support to realign and alleviate any further back pain.

When Should You Start Sleeping on Your Side During Pregnancy?

It is safe to start sleeping on your side whenever you want – your sleeping restrictions really apply more to when you should no longer be sleeping any other way.

Most expectant moms will stop sleeping on their tummies once the baby is large enough to be felt during the night, but they should also be careful to sleep sleeping on their backs by the third trimester.

Sleeping on your back after 28 weeks has been linked to stillbirths as it potentially cut off the blood flow to your baby during the night.

What to Do with a Pregnancy Pillow After Pregnancy?

Even after giving birth, your pregnancy pillow can provide comfort.

Your body will need time to recover from being pregnant and you will not likely just snap back into sleeping well. The pregnancy pillow could greatly help you with getting yourself the rest you need and preparing yourself to adjust back to not being pregnant.

How to Choose the Right Pregnancy Pillow

With such a variation in shape, size, material, and pricing understanding how to choose the right pillow can be a daunting process.

Pregnancy pillows are fairly inexpensive, generally costing less than fairly nice standard pillows. Whether looking for small support pillows (wedge or side sleepers) or full-body pillows (U-Shaped or C-Shaped) you can expect to spend from $30 up to $70 on average.

While smaller pillows are mostly made up of firmer, more robust materials such as Memory Foam, Full body pillows are made up of softer, more contouring materials such as Polyester Fiberfill.

Want to know how to choose the right pregnancy pillow? Let’s take a look at some of the details we will need to know to best determine which would be best.

Full-Body Pregnancy Pillows

Full-body pregnancy pillows come in several shapes, sizes, and with several different materials used to fill them. In addition to normal body pillows, there are U-shaped, C-shaped, and L-shaped varieties. If you are looking for a full-body pillow that will support everything on both sides of you, I recommend a U-shaped pillow.

U-shaped and C-shaped pregnancy pillows offer a lot of support in terms of just how sore you may be feeling. Although bulky, these pillows give excellent support throughout your entire body, giving you the perfect level of comfort to get the rest that you deserve.

The only real downsides to these pillows are that they are rather bulky and will definitely take up quite a bit of space on your bed. If you’re ok with that and you are interested in this level of comfort, then these pillows are definitely for you!

Small Support Pregnancy Pillows

Small support pregnancy pillows are used to target specific areas of pain in your body.

Although not designed for a specific location, they generally can be used wherever you are feeling pain or discomfort. Unlike standard pillows, these support pillows can offer that extra needed elevation to realign your back, neck, or provide any other support and comfort needed.

Wedge pillows, Boppy pillows, and side sleeper pillows are the most common small support pillows on the market today. If you only need support in one spot, or maybe it varies depending on the time of night or day, I recommend using a smaller wedge pillow.

If you are experiencing pain throughout your body and that is making it difficult to sleep at night, then maybe these pillows are not for you as they only provide support to singular areas.

Which is Better, U-Shaped or C-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow?

Generally speaking, the U-shaped pillow offers all the same support as a C-shaped pillow only on both sides of you. Being able to support both the front and back of you could potentially be invaluable to someone seeking that type of comfort.

On the other hand, C-shaped pillows take up a little less space and if sleeping with a spouse they may thank you. Not only that, but it may begin to grow uncomfortable if you cannot turn over without switching the pillow over to the opposite side.

What is the Best Pregnancy Pillow for Back Pain?

What is the best pillow for back pain? Back ‘N Belly Pregnancy/Maternity Contoured Body Pillow made by Leachco is one of the top-rated pillows for back pain.

This C-shaped pillow offers proper back support while still supporting your stomach.

Joshua Bartlett
Joshua Bartlett

My name is Joshua Bartlett I run this blog with my wife Jarah. We have more than 11 years of parenting experience including three girls and one boy. I started this blog in late 2018 when I realized that I was dealing with baby-related issues on a constant basis…please read more about me here!