The Best Pregnancy Pillows for an Amazing Night’s Sleep
July 14, 2021
Does this sound like a familiar scene? You’re exhausted and can’t wait to crawl into bed, but when you do, your ever-growing bump is right there, creating a wedge between you and a good night’s sleep. While you might have dismissed a pregnancy pillow as an unnecessary purchase (after all, you have plenty of pillows already!), a great maternity pillow is actually engineered to ease the discomfort of pregnancy and cradle you off to Dreamland. Most support your belly, of course, but others target hip or back pain, because let’s face it: Carrying a baby for nine months takes its toll on more than just your midsection. So how can you find the right one for you? Keep reading for tips on how to shop for and use a maternity pillow, plus a roundup of the best pregnancy pillows on the market right now.
Regular pillows serve as a headrest, but the best pregnancy pillows are designed to ease various body aches. You can start to use a maternity pillow at any time during your pregnancy, although many moms-to-be appreciate the support beginning in their second trimester, when your bump is larger and it becomes important to sleep on your side instead of your back. “I recommend starting to use the pillow around 28 weeks when the weight of the uterus and baby is heavy enough to possibly compress the major blood vessel,” says Christian Pope, DO, FACG, an ob-gyn at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Too much pressure on the inferior vena cava can inhibit blood flow causing low blood pressure, nausea and other unpleasant symptoms. “The effects of low blood pressure on the baby can also be dangerous if it occurs for prolonged periods of time,” explains Pope. Health concerns aside, the common aches and pains of pregnancy tend to kick in after your first trimester is behind you.
So how do you actually use a pregnancy pillow? “I usually recommend placing a soft pillow under your right hip and buttock to tilt the body to the left a little (approximately 45 degrees from the horizontal),” says Pope. Although you can certainly use a regular pillow to position yourself this way, there are a few styles designed specifically for expectant mothers. We’ve listed the four main types below, plus tips on how to use them:
U-shaped pregnancy body pillow
This pregnancy pillow is the size of your body and, as the name implies, is shaped like a U to contour all around you (with you nestled in the center of the U). This style of pillow does it all, supporting your head, neck, back, hips, legs and bump.
Depending on sleep position, you can use it to prop yourself up if you’re a back-sleeper or sandwich your front and back once you begin sleeping on your side in the second trimester, with the edge of the pregnancy pillow tucked between your legs. You can slip your arm underneath the pillow and rest your head right on top. Keep in mind that this type of pregnancy pillow will take up a good amount of space (hopefully your partner won’t mind welcoming it into your bed!).
C-shaped pregnancy body pillow
This is another type of large pregnancy body pillow, but it’s shaped like a C instead of a U. Some C-shaped pregnancy pillows curve around your entire body to support both your back and bump, while others contour your front but not back. This pillow is used when sleeping on your side—rest your head at the top, prop up your bump (and possibly back) with the side and tuck the bottom of the C between your legs.
Pregnancy wedge pillow
A wedge is much smaller and less expensive than other pregnancy pillows; it’s designed to support a targeted area—typically your bump or back. To use it, slip the wedge under your belly to relieve the weight of your bump, or tuck it behind you to ensure you don’t roll over flat onto your back overnight. (If you enjoy spooning with your partner but need some support for your bump, this is a great cuddle-friendly pick.)
Inflatable pregnancy pillow
This is the largest pregnancy pillow option available and can feel like a life raft (as if you need to be literally rescued from aches and pains). This option isn’t necessarily the most practical, but it can be a good choice for stomach sleepers who have exhausted the alternatives.These often have a hole in which you can rest your pregnant belly. To use, simply inflate, slide it on top of your bed like a second mattress and settle in for the night.
Before you buy the first thing you see marketed as the best pregnancy pillow, you’ll want to consider a few key factors:
• Sleep position. Are you a side sleeper, back sleeper or stomach sleeper? While stomach sleepers have obvious challenges getting comfy while sleeping, back and side sleepers have different hurdles to overcome too.
• Firmness and support. Do you like firm foam or a softer fill? What’s going to feel best against your back or bump? If you’re picky about firmness—or the feel of the fabric is important to you—pay extra attention to find a pregnancy pillow that meets your needs.
Ready to start shopping? Somewhere on this list is the best pregnancy pillow for you. A good night’s sleep is waiting!
Overall best pregnancy pillow
Our first pick, made by PharMeDoc, won our 2021 Best of Pregnancy award for top pregnancy pillow. The C-shaped pillow surrounds you completely, front and back. Use it to sleep in any position as your aches and pains shift during pregnancy. You can even adjust it into a sitting position for nursing postpartum. Better yet, the pillow comes with a 100 percent jersey knit cotton cover that’s machine-washable. Still not convinced? This product has thousands of five-star reviews on Amazon, with one happy customer saying that “this pillow has been one of the best purchases of my life.” High praise indeed!
Buy it: PharMeDoc Pregnancy C-Shape Full Body Pillow, $48, Amazon.com
Best pregnancy wedge pillow
This compact wedge pillow from Boppy supports your bump as you sleep, but it helps in other ways too; women have been known to place it against their backs for lumbar support as they sit at a desk, or rest their knees on it as they lie on a couch. Its small size makes it easy to carry around the house, and the low price means you could have one at home and one at work. Talk about genius design!
Buy it: Boppy Pregnancy Wedge Support Pillow with Jersey Slipcover, $16, buybuyBABY.com
Best U-shaped pregnancy pillow
The best pregnancy pillows mold to your body, offering versatile, comfortable support. This option from Moonlight Slumber, checks every box on our must-have list. It’s made with a synthetic down called Fusion Fiber that’s soft and lightweight but still holds its shape after numerous washes. Users say this U-shaped pregnancy pillow helps alleviate back pain, even calling it a chiropractic pregnancy pillow. One pregnant mama, who heard about the maternity pillow from her chiropractor , said: “It’s helped immensely with round ligament and pelvic pain. Plus, it allows me to easily flip from one side to the other all night without having to readjust my pillows.”
Buy it: Moonlight Slumber Comfort U Total Support Body Pillow, $110, Amazon.com
Best C-shaped pregnancy pillow
Prepare to be blissed out by Boppy’s Total Body Pillow. Its C-shape cradles you from head to toe. One end is for your head and neck; the other tucks between your legs to realign your hips as you sleep. It earns a place on our list of best pregnancy pillows because it’s soft enough to fold into any position and comes in handy during waking hours too; tuck one side behind you on the couch, and use the other end as a lap desk, for instance. Bonus: Both the cotton slipcover and the inside pillow are machine washable.
Buy it: Boppy Slipcovered Total Body Pregnancy Pillow, $50, Amazon.com
Best affordable pregnancy pillow
For those less than eager to spend a lot of money on a pillow, this is one of the best pregnancy pillows you can snag on a budget. Basically, you can get a pregnancy body pillow for the cost of most replacement pillow cases. It features a C-shape design that’ll support you throughout your pregnancy (and beyond!) and comes with a velvety-soft cover that has hundreds of tiny air vents for air circulation. And if it gets grubby, you can toss the cover in the washing machine.
Buy it: 1 MIDDLE ONE Pregnancy Pillow, $29, Amazon.com
Best organic pregnancy pillow
If earth-friendly fabrics are at the top of your requirement list, the best pregnancy pillow for you is this Yana pick, crafted from all-natural materials. The U-shaped pillow is made from a shredded latex filling, topped with an organic cotton-bamboo blend cover that’s removable and washable. If you run hot, the breathable fabric will keep you cool and comfortable through the night. Although this body pillow can be used by anyone, expectant moms are sure to appreciate the ergonomic curved interior—it’ll provide the perfect amount of support and pressure relief.
Buy it: Yana Pillow, $200, YanaSleep.com
Best pregnancy pillow for back pain
Combat pregnancy-induced back pain with the Leachco Back 'N Belly pillow. The C-shape style offers equal support for your back and belly, and helps align your hips to reduce back strain. The pillow has inner contours designed to hug your natural curves, with a supportive wedge for your neck, shoulders and baby bump. And, like many of the best pregnancy pillows, this option has a removable cover that’s machine-washable.
Buy it: Leachco Soothing White Back 'N Belly Chic Supreme Contoured Body Pillow, $119, Wayfair.com
Best memory foam pregnancy pillow
If you love firmness in a pillow or mattress, this memory-foam pregnancy pillow is the one for you. Designed for people of all shapes and sizes—including pregnant women—this option has a medium-density filling that can be molded to suit your needs. Position it in front of you for your bump, behind you for your back or between your legs for your hips—wherever you need the most support. Plus, the soft, bamboo fabric is naturally hypoallergenic, so it won’t irritate sensitive skin.
Buy it: Coop body pillow, $70, CoopHomeGoods.com
Best multi-purpose pregnancy-to-nursing pillow
If you want a multi-use pillow that won’t break the bank, this U-shape option is the best pregnancy pillow for your needs. Unfold the pillow and use it under your bump and between your legs, or tie the safety strap to use it behind your back as you sit. Once you bring baby home, it becomes a feeding pillow too. Bonus: It has a removable cotton cover that’s machine washable.
Buy it: Bamibi Nursing Pillow and Positioner, $40, Amazon.com
Best pregnancy pillow for side sleepers
Need a pregnancy pillow that’s supportive but won’t take over your entire bed? Meet the Boppy side sleeper pregnancy pillow. This compact style, designed for expectant moms who like to sleep on their side, will take the strain off your belly and back. It has a stretchy panel in the middle that’ll keep the two side cushions firmly in place all night long, meaning you won’t have to rearrange your pillows at 2 a.m. Score! Plus, this style has tons of rave reviews. One mom-to-be wrote: “I am a first time mom and really wanted a great pregnancy pillow. I didn’t have the space for the large body pillow and chose this one instead. I am so happy!!! It is such a great pillow, and is very versatile too!”
Buy it: Boppy Side Sleeper Pregnancy Pillow in Grey Leaves, $30, buybuyBABY.com
Best pregnancy pillow for back sleepers
Expectant moms who are used to sleeping on their backs can have a hard time adjusting to side sleeping. That’s where this Belly Bandit pregnancy pillow comes in. Developed by an ob-gyn, this style makes side sleeping simple, and allows for optimal blood and oxygen flow to baby. It has an ergonomic foam back pillow designed to prevent rolling that’s connected to a super-soft wedge to support your belly via an adjustable velcro band. Genius!
Buy it: Belly Bandit S.O.S. Side Sleeper Pregnancy Pillow, $80, BellyBandit.com
Best pregnancy pillow for stomach sleepers
We feel you, stomach sleepers. If you don’t mind looking like you’re white water rafting belly-down while you sleep, this inflatable pregnancy pillow with a hole in the center might be right for you. (You’ll get over any silliness you feel once you get a good night’s sleep!) Adjust the amount of air in it to suit your comfort as your belly grows. Desperate times call for desperate measures—and if you really need sleep, it’s worth a try!
Buy it: Pregnancy Pillow by Cozy Bump, $80, Amazon
About the expert: Christian Pope, DO, FACG, is an ob-gyn at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He received his medical degree at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and his obstetrics and gynecology training at the Tufts University School of Medicine, Baystate Medical Center.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.
Plus, more from The Bump: