Carrying the weight of a large belly during pregnancy comes with many challenges. Simple tasks such as finding a comfortable sleeping position or turning around in bed can be an uphill battle. You may have also wondered how to use a pregnancy pillow and if they really help and the truth is, using one correctly will help new moms sleep better and have fewer body aches during the day.
What Is a Pregnancy Pillow, and What Are the Types?
Before diving into how to use a pregnancy pillow and the best sleeping positions, let’s find out what a it is and the types available (these pillows make great gifts for a baby shower).
A pregnancy pillow feels like a regular pillow, but its shape is designed to support pregnant women’s growing bodies. They come in different shapes and sizes to accommodate a woman’s changing figure throughout the pregnancy.
The American Pregnancy Association highly recommends using these shaped pillows, as they provide many benefits for the mother and growing baby. Here are the main types:
Wedge-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow
Wedge-shaped pillows are small. They allow you to move to different sleeping positions throughout the night.
Unfortunately, they can only support one body part at a time. Sleeping with a pregnancy will get more challenging as the weeks progresses. At that point, consider acquiring a full-length pillow that will support your whole body.
C-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow
C-shaped pregnancy pillows are larger than standard pillows. They provide support to your head, back, and knees at the same time. You can also use them on the front to help alleviate belly weight.
Body Pillow Shape
These are medium size pillows, which makes it easier to move them around while searching for the right position. While sleeping during pregnancy, you’ll want to support your head, belly, and knees simultaneously, which makes these pillows an excellent alternative (you might even want to include one when packing your hospital bag).
U-shaped Pregnancy pillow
For women struggling to get a good night’s sleep, especially during the third trimester, the U-shaped pillow is one of the best options. Keep in mind this is the most expensive pregnancy pillow available.
These are designed to provide full-body support. With U-shaped pregnancy pillows, you can simultaneously get extra support on your head, back, knees, and baby bump.
How Do I Use a Pregnancy Pillow Properly?
Sleeping during pregnancy starts being a challenge in week 20. If that is your case, a shaped pregnancy pillow can be the perfect solution.
Sleeping With a Pregnancy Wedge
Pregnancy wedges are small and easy to move around while looking for a good sleeping position. You can place it under your belly to support the weight, between your knees to alleviate pelvic tension, or behind your back as a supportive pillow.
Using a U-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow to Sleep
A U-shaped body pillow provides maximum support. Using the connected part of the pillow to lay your head on, both ends will support your back and front simultaneously.
Using C-Shaped Pillows to Support Your Back
You’ll get additional support for your back by placing the C-shaped pillow behind you. You put one end of the pillow between your knees and lay your head on the other.
You can also use a C-shaped pregnancy pillow in front of you. Use one end to lay your head and the other between your knees.
Body Pillow Shape
I-shaped body pillows will allow you to sleep comfortably on your side. Also known as body pillows, you can place these full-length pregnancy pillows on your back or front for belly and hip support. This kind of position is recommended for relieving pelvic tension.
Best Resting Positions Using Pregnancy Pillows
There are several ways pregnant women can use a pillow to feel more comfortable. Here are the best-resting positions using C-shape, pillow wedges, and U-shaped pillows:
- Under your knees. It’s highly recommended to sleep on the left side when pregnant. However, if you’re experiencing back pain and need some relief, you can lie on your back and place a wedge-shaped pillow or a C-shaped pillow under your knees.
- Under your head. Some women suffer from severe heartburn during pregnancy. Laying with your head elevated is recommended to help ease the discomfort. You can use a regular or C-shaped pillow to find a comfortable position.
- Upright rest. When resting upright, you can use a U-shaped pregnancy pillow around your body. This way, you’ll get support for your belly and back. If you have a C-shaped pregnancy pillow, you can use it to support your front or back.
- Bump wedge. One of the best resting positions with a wedge pillow is to place it under your bump. This will release some pressure and help you support your belly weight.
Why Does a Pillow Between the Legs Help During Pregnancy?
When a woman frequently wakes up with a sore back during pregnancy, putting a pillow between their knees may help reduce the pain.
This keeps their pelvis in a neutral position preventing the spine from rotating during the night. Maintaining a good spine alignment helps relieve the stress from the surrounding tissues.
What Is the Best Sleeping Position During Pregnancy?
It’s paramount for pregnant women to have a good night’s sleep, as it aids the baby’s and the mother’s well-being.
The best sleeping position is on her side, with her legs slightly curled. Doctors recommend sleeping on the left side. This position eases blood flow to the uterus, heart, and kidneys. It also improves the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the baby.
How Not to Sleep While Pregnant
While pregnant, you must avoid sleeping on your back as this position puts too much pressure on your spine and back muscles.
In this position, the uterus compresses major blood vessels such as the vena cava. This sort of compression disrupts the baby’s blood flow and brings you some uncomfortable symptoms, such as nausea, low blood pressure, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
Why You Should Consider Using a Pregnancy Pillow
Even for women used to sleeping on their side, this position may get uncomfortable with a growing belly. Here are some of the main benefits of using pregnancy pillows:
- Fewer aches. The extra weight on the midsection will cause pain in your back and hips. A pregnancy pillow will help you elevate the excess weight and prevent it from dragging the rest of your body out of place.
- Quality sleep. A pregnancy pillow will release the pressure throughout your body and improve REM sleep quality.
- Improve blood circulation. The support provided by pregnancy pillows will put less pressure on your veins and arteries, improving your blood circulation. As a result, more nutrients will reach your baby.
- Postpartum recovery. The benefits of using pregnancy pillows don’t end when the baby is born. After the baby arrives, you can use a shaped pregnancy pillow as a maternity pillow and get a comfortable position for you and your baby.
When to Start Using a Pregnancy Pillow
By 20 weeks, women start showing discomfort when looking for a good sleeping position. By week 28, sleeping on your side is necessary for your well-being and your baby’s.
Anytime between weeks 20 and 28 is a perfect moment to start using a pregnancy pillow.
If you’re looking for a pregnancy pillow, you may want to consider the space it will take up on your bed. During the last weeks of pregnancy, many women prefer to sleep alone for extra comfort.
If that’s the case, you can acquire a C-shaped or a U-shaped pillow. These are bigger but simultaneously support several areas of your body.
Pregnancy pillows, such as wedge-shaped or full-body, are excellent alternatives if you sleep with your partner and prefer a smaller size.
Is It Safe to Sleep on an Inflatable Pillow During Pregnancy?
Women who are used to sleeping on their stomachs will struggle the most when pregnant. An inflatable pregnancy pillow may help you with that, as it has a hole in the middle to accommodate your belly.
While this is a comfortable and safe pregnancy pillow, it will be challenging. For example, it’s hard to change position in the middle of the night as the pregnancy progresses and your belly grows. Another downside is that it takes up a large amount of bed space.
Tips for Better Sleep During Pregnancy
Women’s bodies undergo many changes during pregnancy. They are prone to discomfort, such as acidic reflux, hormone changes, and ache in the pelvic area and back.
Using a pregnancy pillow is excellent for getting quality sleep. Here are some additional tips that may help you sleep better during pregnancy:
- Minimize your fluid intake before bed. Otherwise, you will wake up several times during the night.
- Try to rest during the day. This will help you recover from sleep loss.
- Nighttime is typically when heartburn and acid reflux appears. Try keeping a simple diet before going to bed.
- If your doctor agrees, try exercising during the day. This will reduce the chances of having cramps during the night.
A Good Night’s Sleep Guaranteed
After being 20 weeks pregnant, you may start experiencing difficulty sleeping. You can use a pregnancy pillow to find a suitable position to provide abdominal and back support.
Follow our tips to get the quality sleep that will prepare you for your baby’s arrival.