Never has good sleep felt so vital than during the final months of pregnancy, but it gets harder to accomplish that with each passing day. Between the constant bathroom breaks and the discomfort faced with each toss and turn, a good night’s rest can start to feel like a pipe dream.
My own growing bump sent me on a hunt for the best pregnancy pillow, but my husband ultimately saved the day when a vacuum-sealed package showed up on our porch (spoiler: it was the best pregnancy body pillow ever). It was a long, bumpy road (get it?) to find the right match, so here’s what I learned along the way—and how you can choose the best pregnancy pillow for you.
Pillow Talk: What to Look for in a Pregnancy Pillow
It’s strange to say, but the second trimester of my fourth pregnancy was the first time I considered buying a pregnancy pillow. I was surprised to learn that there isn’t just one kind of pregnancy pillow, but that they actually come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
The design and size of the pillow come down to how much extra support you need while you sleep:
- U-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow. The biggest pillow out there is a U-shaped pillow and it literally wraps around your entire body. It can be used to provide support to your back, hips, knees, bump, head, and neck — all at the same time. This would be a great option for someone who is experiencing a lot of discomfort in multiple places during their pregnancy.
- C-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow. Slightly smaller, but still pretty all-encompassing, is the C-shaped pregnancy pillow. Cuddle up with the long back of the “C” supporting your back while the top curve of the C supports your and chest and the bottom curve your hips and bump.
There are also pregnancy pillows that are much smaller and used to target specific areas of the body. For instance, a small, wedge pillow is great for someone who just needs a little extra support for the bump or between the knees. There is also a side sleeper pillow, which is two wedge pillows connect by fabric. One wedge is placed under your bump and the other supports your back. As you grow in your pregnancy, you may also find that your comfort needs change, so don’t be afraid to buy or use another pillow if you find that your current method just isn’t working for you—you need all the rest you can get right now, mama!
Best U-Shape Pregnancy Pillow: PharMeDoc U-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow
The PharMeDoc U-Shape Pregnancy Pillow has earned a 4.5 star rating on Amazon from the over 26,696 buyers who took the time to leave their thoughts on their purchase—that’s a lot of well-rested expecting parents and a number like that almost speak for itself, doesn’t it?
Since this is a U-shaped pillow, you can really use it to support your whole body while you sleep. It can help relieve back strain, hip, and knee pain, and give you some relief by supporting that growing bump. Something I really loved about this pillow is that it can also be adapted to an extent. For instance, if you don’t always need (or want) the entire pillow in bed with you, the front portion detaches to serve as its own body pillow. When this portion is removed, the rest of the pillow resembles a slightly smaller, C-shaped pillow.
As far as features go, the jersey-knit cover is easily removed for a quick wash but that also brings us to the con I noticed in the reviews: the zipper. The cover does have a zipper that hangs on the outside of the pillow. It’s not massive, but it does need to be placed out of the way if that’s something that may irritate you at night.
According to reviewers, what makes this the best pregnancy pillow is how much support it can provide: “I had back pain before I was pregnant and after becoming pregnant, my pain got to the point where I wasn’t sleeping cause I just couldn’t get comfortable…This pillow helped me cause I could sleep on my sides or my back & have a pillow comfortably fitting under me & my belly.”—Amazon.com review
Best C-Shape Pregnancy Pillow: PharMeDoc C Shape Pregnancy Pillow
Also made by PharMeDoc, the C Shape Pregnancy Pillow has a lot of the same awesome features as their U-shaped option, with a little less pillow. This is the pillow my husband bought me and I love it. Most often, I sleep with the top of the “C” resting under my head so that it curves around front and gives me something to hug while I sleep on my side. The back of the “C’ supports my back while the bottom curve wraps between my legs and tucks under my bump, giving both my hips and bump a place to rest comfortably.
Four pregnancies in, I’m amazed this is the first time I’ve snuggled up with this pillow. My sleep isn’t perfect, but I am certainly more comfortable than I’ve ever been at 33 weeks pregnant.
What I like most about this pillow is that it is pretty easy to adjust to fit your body just right so it provides support exactly as you need it. The cover slips off easily for a wash and is made from a really soft jersey. Like the U-shaped option from this same brand, the only real bummer is zipper placement. Every once in a while, I get settled just right only to realize the zipper is exactly where my arm is resting, so I’ve got to start all over and flip the pillow. Easier said than done when you’re trying to get comfortable with a third-trimester bump!
On Amazon, the PharmMeDoc C-shaped pillow has 9,381 reviews and a 4.6-star rating. One gushing reviewer compares sleeping with this pillow to sleeping in a rose bed. Another reviewer left five stars and best captured my own feelings about this pillow:
“I bought this pillow for my second pregnancy and I am in LOVE with it. It seriously is so soft and comfortable–it feels like I’m sleeping in a freaking cloud every night.”
The Best Compact Pregnancy Pillow: The Hiccapop Wedge Pillow
Both the U-shaped and C-shaped pregnancy pillows are great options, but not every expecting parent is looking for a pillow that is practically like having an extra person in their bed all night. There are smaller, more compact pillows that can provide targeted support for body parts.
A really versatile option is the Hiccapop Wedge Pillow. It is much smaller, but can be used if you only have one area you want to support. Wedge it under your bump, between legs or knees, or behind your back.
This specific pillow made our list because of its great rating on Amazon. With 3,403 reviews, the Hiccapop Wedge Pillow holds a 4.6 star rating. I also loved how versatile something so small seemed to be, with both soft memory foam on one side and firmer memory foam on the other. According to the creators, supporting your belly can actually help prevent swelling in other parts of the body, making this a great pillow to buy even if you’re still sleeping comfortably.
“It felt like the weight of my belly was pulling the entire front of my body into the mattress, to the point where even my skin hurt from being stretched,” one reviewer wrote on Amazon. “But now that my bump is supported, I don’t have that discomfort anymore.”
Best Non-Pregnancy Pregnancy Pillow: Ebung’s Wedge Pillow
The Bed Wedge pillow wasn’t created with pregnancy in mind, but I am so glad that I went ahead and bought it anyway. It’s been a really versatile option for me as I try to deal with some common (and not-so-common) pregnancy ailments. I use it often when I am dealing with acid reflux to sleep a little more upright. I also flipped it and used it to prop up my feet to manage typical pregnancy swelling and encourage good blood flow in hopes of reducing the pain caused by my varicose veins.
This specific wedge pillow has 3,169 reviews and a 4.3 star rating, which is why I bought it for myself and why I added it to this list. Many reviewers point out how helpful it is for acid reflux as well as reading or watching TV in bed. The big drawback I noticed in reviews, and find myself facing, is it is impossible to store. It doesn’t fold up or compress, so it sits on the floor next to my bed when I’m not using it.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should you start using a pregnancy pillow?
You can start using a pregnancy pillow as soon as you start to feel uncomfortable in bed. I started using mine early in my second trimester and it has made a big difference in how well I sleep each night.
Where should your pillow be when pregnant?
A pregnancy pillow can be used wherever you need support. If you have back pain, it’s a good idea to support both your back and your belly to relieve some of the strain caused by your growing bump. One reviewer reported using their pillow behind their back to avoid sleeping flat at night, while others said they placed it between their legs for hip and knee support.
Is a U or C shaped pregnancy pillow better?
This is a matter of preference. A U-shaped pregnancy pillow offers the most support, but it also takes up the most space in your bed. A C-shaped pillow is really great if you need a little more room and you’re OK with giving up some of the extra support provided by a larger pillow.
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