If you’re currently pregnant, you may already be experiencing one of the more unpleasant side effects of expecting: not sleeping well. Between trying to find a comfortable position, heartburn as soon as you lay down, and having to get up to pee all the time, sleeping when pregnant can be a serious challenge. Pair that with back pain, hip pain, and a bulging belly, and it’s a very frustrating mixed bag. That's why finding a good pregnancy pillow is vital to some much-needed shut eye throughout your three trimesters.
“Before you get too focused on a specific pillow, it’s best to think about your sleep style and how to best accommodate that and troubleshoot any pain or discomfort your current set-up might be contributing to,” says Laura Erlich, holistic fertility and obstetric specialist and founder of Mother Nurture Wellness in Los Angeles.
Whether you’re a stomach, back, or side sleeper, there is a pillow for you. While it is recommended that pregnant women sleep on their side, most don’t stay in one position for too long. “Ultimately people sleep in all sorts of positions throughout their pregnancy—what's most important is that they do sleep and that they sleep well!” says Celeste Compton, PT, DT, physical therapist & consumer content lead at Origin, a pelvic floor and physical therapy center based in California.
Check out our list of the best pregnancy pillows below, with specific expert recommendations included.
Best Pregnancy Pillows Overall
This compact two-part pillow keeps you from rolling onto your back or stomach while sleeping. “Pregnant women are generally advised to sleep on their left side for optimal blood flow to the baby,” says Dr. Christina Burns, L.Ac, FABORM, founder of Naturna and doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine,. If you’re not used to sleeping on your side, this can help “train” you to do so, while also supporting your back and belly.
“Low back pain gets worse as the belly grows,” explains Erlich. “This is often because the weight of the pregnancy begins to impact posture, leading to stress on the lower back. Overstretched abdominal muscles don’t help matters, so using a supportive pillow is crucial.
Erlich says using a U-shaped pillow, like this highly rated one on Amazon, is often the most dependable for the kind of support needed to keep low back pain at bay.
This plant-based down pillow is perfect for pregnancy. It comes with a 50-day risk free trial, a four-year warranty, and is organic and soft. “The most important place to have a pillow is between the knees and under the head/neck to align the neck and low back,” says Burns. “Longer pillows go between the knees to give support to the back and supply a resting place for the arm. I recommend the Sweet Zzz’s body pillow, especially since it’s organic.”
Best Pregnancy Pillows For Back Pain
This U-shaped pillow is a one and done type of situation. It’s like having four regular pillows cradling your back, neck, belly, and between your knees all at the same time. The pillowcase is washable, and the fill is hypoallergenic. It will also keep you cool thanks to moisture-wicking fibers and alleviate back pain because of the comforting shape.
This small, compact pillow is great for pregnancy and postpartum. “A wedge pillow can support your belly as it grows and reduce tension in your back. I like this one from Boppy,” says Dr. Compton. This pillow may also be great if you’re more petite thanks to its smaller size.
Best Pregnancy Pillows For Hip Pain
This C-shaped pillow has a removable, washable cover with two sides. One side is a soft, jersey T-shirt material while the other is cooling if you sleep warm. The cover is also hypoallergenic and antimicrobial. It relieves pressure on the shoulders, belly, and/or hips, depending on how you position it. Though it’s large, it weighs less than 10 pounds.
This singular pillow supports your head, neck, back, hips, and bump, and can be used in front of you or behind you depending on where you feel pain. By sleeping with it in the front, it will cradle your belly and prop up your knee, leading to more aligned hips. The cover is also washable.
This pillow has over 50,000 reviews and 4.6/5 stars on Amazon. “Often a dull ache that wakes you from a deep sleep, pressure on your hips while pregnant can be painful and sleep-disrupting,” says Erlich. “There are a few ways to manage sore hips, the most important being making sure there’s a pillow between your knees and thighs. This helps keep your pelvis in the proper position while you sleep and protects your lower back from getting out of alignment to boot. This can be accomplished with a C-shaped pillow.”
Best Pregnancy Pillows For The Third Trimester
This highly-customizable pillow can be positioned in a C, I, L, or U shape to target your specific needs. You can twist and bend the flexible pillow, all while keeping cool thanks to the micro-bead filling that allows airflow. It’s also compact and easy to bring with you if you have to travel.
It can feel impossible to get a full night’s sleep when you’re in your third trimester. As great as body pillows are, we can’t forget about the “regular” head and neck pillow we all need! With a surge of hormones running through your body, you may be experiencing hot flashes. We love this cooling pillow from Allswell which has a special gel layer to transfer heat away from the body. The memory foam fill is comfy and cozy, and the knit cover is machine washable.
When looking for a pillow, Felice Gersh, M.D., OB/GYN and founder and director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, in Irvine, CA, offers the following advice: “Be sure to check out the types of fabric and quality of the workmanship. Check the return policy in case you are disappointed with either. Also, check on the cooling properties of the pillow, as pregnant women often feel very hot.”
Best Pregnancy Pillows That Also Work For Breastfeeding / Bottle Feeding
This brand-new launch is a super supportive French cotton that’s quilted and cozy. The cover is machine washable and the fill is comprised of micro-pearls that conform to your body. It can be used in both pregnancy and while breastfeeding a baby, and it’s OEKO-TEX certified.
If basic, boring white pillows just aren’t your thing, may we recommend this chic option from DockATot? It comes in a variety of stylish colors and patterns. Use it between your knees to minimize hip pain, or to cradle your growing belly. It’s designed as a nursing pillow, so obviously it works once you’re postpartum as well and it’s pretty enough to leave on your couch all the time.
This best-selling pillow works as a huggable body pillow during pregnancy and then clips closed to form a doughnut for breast or bottle feeding after you have the baby. It can also be used to support your back and neck while you’re in a seated position. The cover is machine washable and it comes in five different prints and patterns.
Best Pregnancy Pillows for Side Sleepers
This pillow does exactly what its name suggests—it hugs your body, leading to increased comfort and a reduction in back, hip, and arm pain. There is an ergonomic twist design that helps you perfectly align your body, especially when sleeping on your side. You can remove and wash the cover, and the pillow comes with a 30-day risk free trial.
The Bottom Line
“Creating a plan to help support great quality sleep while pregnant can be a daunting task,” says Dr. Gersh. “There was a time, not too long ago, when using standard home bed pillows and couch throw pillows were the only options one had when attempting to secure a better and more comfortable sleep experience. Now a wide variety of pillow options exist, produced to facilitate comfort and restful, restorative sleep.”
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