Best Body Pillow for Pregnancy: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide
Pregnancy is an exciting, if quite hectic, time in a person’s life. While you’re getting your home ready for your newest addition, your body is undergoing changes to nurture its new occupant. While these changes are optimal for your baby’s health and well-being, they may add some extra discomfort for you, especially as you’re trying to get to sleep.
Many pregnant women report insomnia and other sleep issues, often due to discomfort in their changing bodies. Pregnancy pillows are body pillows specially designed to help ease the aches and pains many parents experience throughout pregnancy. Using a high-quality body pillow during pregnancy can be helpful if you find yourself unable to get a good night’s sleep.
How Pregnancy Pillows Improve Sleep
Pregnancy pillows, or maternity pillows, are designed to help ease aches and pains that arise as your body goes through the intense changes of pregnancy, particularly in the hips, knees, and ankles as these joints loosen to accommodate your growing body. Pregnancy pillows also reduce back pain, one of the most common complaints in pregnancy.
As pregnancy progresses, and frequent bathroom trips, night sweats, and heartburn become a part of your nightly routine, you may find it harder to get uninterrupted sleep. A pregnancy pillow, designed to tackle multiple discomfort points, can help you get back to sleep faster, by providing support to painful areas and a soft, relaxing spot to fall back into dreamland.
For expectant parents who are accustomed to back or stomach sleeping, U-shaped pregnancy pillows, in particular, can help encourage them to stay on their sides by gently cocooning them between the arms of the pillow.
Pregnancy Pillow Types
Every pregnancy is unique and what eases pain for one person can heighten discomfort in someone else. Luckily, pregnancy pillows come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and fills to fit your changing body and provide head-to-toe comfort, targeting areas most likely to cause discomfort, and cradling your growing bump so you can get to sleep faster.
Among the most popular and versatile styles of pregnancy pillows, U-shaped pillows cocoon expectant parents between two equal length arms. You can position one arm to alleviate pain in the hips, knees, and ankles; while the other arm protects your back from the strain of the added weight in your abdomen.
These full-body pillows are an especially good choice if you’re the type to toss and turn in your sleep; you can flip to a more comfortable position without having to bring your pillow with you.
While most people rest on the top of the pillow, positioning the arms to support their various pain points, the U-shape can easily be inverted so that you can use your own head pillow, if you find the top too high or firm to offer proper neck support.
One of the big upsides of this type of pillow is also a potential downside; it’s a very large pillow. U-shaped pillows are often oversized, which can lead to great comfort, but they can be quite unwieldy, particularly if you have a smaller bed, like a full or twin size mattress, or if you share a bed with a partner.
C-shaped pillows are similar in design to U-shaped pillows, but generally take up less space, perfect for anyone who shares a bed with a partner, or has a smaller mattress size. The arms of the C-shaped pillow can be tucked under knees and ankles to ease pressure on your lower body, and both the open and closed sides of the pillow can support your back if you tend to move around in your sleep.
These types of pillows are also versatile outside of sleep; they can make excellent back support while sitting on the couch, and can be used after your baby comes to support their head while feeding.
Unlike the U-shaped pillows, the C-shape does not easily accommodate using your own head pillow. They can also be a detriment to taller people, as they don’t leave as much room to add supplemental pillows.
With their compact design, wedge pillows may not provide the overall coverage of some other pillows, but they are perfect for targeting specific pain points, whether it’s an aching back or sore knee joints. Some people place their wedge behind their back to help with any strain caused by their bump, while others rest their bump on top of the pillow for a little added support for the new weight.
Since these pillows are far more portable than most body pillows, they are great for traveling or adding extra support for days at the office or for driving.
The best wedge pillows can alleviate pain from one problem spot at a time, so they are most useful if there is one particular spot giving you the most discomfort.
Traditional Body Pillows
Traditional, straight body pillows may not be designed specifically for pregnant bodies, but they can still provide a great amount of support, without taking up precious bed space from a partner or being too cumbersome on a smaller bed. This pillow is perfect if you are primarily looking for support for your belly or knees, as the straight body pillow is slightly more adjustable than a U- or C- shaped pillow may be.
However, if you are feeling discomfort back and front, this pillow will not be the one for you. It may also be a hassle if you tend to flip sides in your sleep, as you’ll either need to bring the pillow with you or will have to change the side that is getting the majority of support.
Standard body pillows are also not the best option if you’re taller than 5 foot 8 inches tall, as the pillow may not be able to fully support your ankles. If ankle pain is your main complaint while sleeping, you may need to maneuver multiple pillows to find an ideal sleeping position.
Choosing the Best Pregnancy Pillow
While the shape of your pillow is important for physical comfort, pillow fill and case are just as important to regulate heat and provide a soft surface to drift off to sleep.
Since your core body temperature is likely to rise throughout your pregnancy, you’ll want to avoid fills that can retain heat, like down or inexpensive foams. Your ideal firmness is a matter of personal choice; there are no medical findings that either firm or soft pregnancy pillows cause any harm to the baby. However, some people do find that even if they prefer a firmer head pillow, firm body pillows do not provide the same comfort on other body parts, particularly when it comes to cushioning their growing bump.
Memory foam body pillows are popular among pregnant people. Memory foam gets its name from the fiber’s ability to adjust to the shape of your body and provide comfort exactly where you need it. For pregnant people with specific needs when it comes to pain relief, this kind of unique molding to their body can be just what they need to feel fully rested and secure.
As with pillow fills, coolness and breathability are vital when considering the type of fabric your pregnancy pillow has. Unlike traditional head pillows, your pregnancy pillow will be in contact with most of your body and can cause night sweats if the fabric isn’t cool enough to accommodate your rising body temperature.
Tencel is considered one of the most breathable fibers available, engineered to absorb moisture if you experience night sweats throughout your pregnancy. Pure cotton sheets are also known for their breathability. Try to avoid synthetic fibers like rayon if you sleep warm during your pregnancy; stick to natural materials, which generally promote breathability.
You’ll also want to ensure that, if your pillow has a removable cover, it is easy to take on and off. The size and weight of most pregnancy pillows, as well as the unique shape, can make taking the covers on and off strenuous and irritating for a pregnant woman.
Try to find full-zip covers for your pillow, as opposed to a more traditional sham-style cover so you can spend less time wrestling with your pillow and more time resting in it.
Why is it so important to sleep on my side while pregnant?
Beyond the obvious restrictions for stomach sleepers as pregnancy advances, side sleeping is the ideal sleep position for both you and your baby. Sleeping on your back can cut off blood flow to the vena cava vein, which carries blood to your heart, and in pregnancy, to the placenta.
The increased weight in your uterus can also lead to backaches, digestive issues, and shortness of breath if pressed against your organs during sleep.
Flip-floppers rejoice; while sleeping on the left side does provide optimal flow to the vena cava, there is no medical proof that sleeping on your right side is at all harmful for you or your baby.
Does your body temperature rise while pregnant?
Many people do experience higher body temperatures during their pregnancy. A spike in body temperature can stem from:
- Your body producing more blood and your heart pumping harder to keep you and baby healthy and nourished.
- A rise in metabolism as your body takes in more food to support your growing baby, which can raise your body’s core temperature.
- Your baby’s own body heat; in the third trimester especially, when your baby’s development is almost complete, their body heat can be absorbed by you and warm you from the inside.
For your health and your baby’s, make sure to keep your body temperature below 101 degrees Fahrenheit, so avoid steaming hot baths, stay out of the sun, and ensure your bedding is made from light, breathable materials, like cotton or Tencel. Keeping your bedroom cool can also help promote deeper, more restful sleep. In most cases, the best temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 67 degrees.
What trimester should I buy a body pillow?
Expectant parents should start side sleeping sometime in the second trimester, as their bumps become more visible, and other sleeping positions become impossible or hazardous.
If you are accustomed to back or stomach sleeping, having a pregnancy pillow in the first trimester can help acclimate you to side sleeping throughout your pregnancy, so you don’t lose precious sleep time looking for a comfortable sleeping position.
How much does a body pillow weigh?
Pregnancy pillows tend to weigh a bit more than traditional head pillows because of their immense size. The Leachco Snoogle Maternity Total Body Pillow, one of the leading C-shaped pregnancy pillows on the market, comes in at just under 4.5 pounds, far heavier than head pillows with similar polyester fills, which weigh between 1 and 3 pounds.
As you search for the right pregnancy pillow for you, here are some considerations to keep in mind. If you expect to travel throughout your pregnancy or will have to take the pillow on and off your bed, you may want to consider a wedge pillow, which, due to its small size, is far more portable than most pregnancy pillows.
Pregnancy is a time of incredible physical and emotional change. While your body prepares itself to nurture your baby’s growing life, you may feel more aches and pains than you’re used to, and get less sleep than you need. But, with the help of a pregnancy body pillow that is the proper shape, size, and fibers to support your unique pregnancy, can help you relieve joint pain and promote comfort as your body changes, so you can get a peaceful and comfortable night’s sleep you and your growing baby need.