- What is a Pregnancy Pillow
- Benefits Of Pregnancy Pillow
- When To Start Using Pregnancy Pillow
- Types Of Pregnancy Pillows And How To Use Them
- How To Choose The Best Pregnancy Pillow
- Top Rated Pregnancy Pillows
How you long for a sound sleep during pregnancy! The growing baby bump, expanding hips, increased stress and a lot more affect your sleep quality. But, did you know that all these pregnancy worries can be circumvented by using a pregnancy pillow? Yes, these pillows are great to use as they alleviate any discomforts and help you get enough sleep.
What is a Pregnancy Pillow?
Pregnancy pillows provide a bed to the changing curves of your body and offer support in certain sleeping positions. They help in making the sleeping positions comfortable especially in the later stages of pregnancy when sleeping on the back and stomach becomes difficult.
They are longer than the normal pillows so as to support the complete body.
You may feel the need to use a pregnancy or maternity pillow when you notice that your bodily changes are interfering with your sleep (1).
Benefits Of Using A Pregnancy Pillow:
A pregnancy pillow helps you adjust perfectly to your body, providing support to your hips, neck, back, shoulders and legs. Its design allows you to rest in the half-fetal position, the position that is highly recommended by doctors. Here are the various ways how a pregnancy pillow can be beneficial to you:
1. Eases blood circulation:
Doctors usually recommend moms to sleep to the side to promote easy circulation of blood. However, even this position is uncomfortable due to the growing belly. The pregnancy pillow is comfortable due to its softness and cushioning effect. Also, it can be adjusted to suit your abdomen or body parts.
2. Prevents body pains:
Intense pain or numbness in the back, neck, hips, knees and legs is common during pregnancy. Research studies show that 50-80% women experience a kind of lumbar pain through the and even beyond (2). If you have any lower lumbar or pelvic pain, pregnancy pillow is the best source of relief.
3. Longer sleeping time:
You can beat the stress and aches during pregnancy by resting and sleeping enough. Maternity pillows offer sound sleep. The more you relax, the healthier you become and can prepare yourself for the arriving baby.
4. Useful after delivery:
You can also use these pillows post pregnancy to help position your baby for breastfeeding so that she learns to latch properly. Their different shapes and sizes will make your life easy when breastfeeding.
When To Start Using A Pregnancy Pillow?
There is no particular time to start using a maternity pillow. However, from week 20 you can feel more comfortable with the pillow. As your tummy starts to show around this time, it causes round ligament pain and other body pains, and therefore you require a pregnancy pillow.
Types Of Pregnancy Pillows And How To Use Them:
There are various types of pregnancy pillows, each meeting a different set of needs. You can choose the most suitable one by assessing your discomfort levels. For instance, a woman having sciatica or pelvic pain may not need the same pillow as a woman with back pain. Each pregnancy is different, and so are the pillow requirements.
1. Pregnancy Wedge Pillow:
The wedge pillow, also known as maternity cushion, is the smallest of all the pregnancy pillows. It slides under your tummy or back to offer the necessary support throughout the sleep time (3). You do not need to be pregnant to use this pillow; it can also be used post pregnancy.
You can use this pregnancy wedge pillow in different positions:
Beneath your tummy: It supports the growing tummy, thereby keeping the weight from causing discomfort to your hips and back.
Behind your back: If you are used to tossing and turning, a wedge can help you sleep in the side position.
Under your standard pillow: Raises your head from the average height and assists in relieving reflux and heartburn.
As a support: It can also be used to hold a hot compress or hot water bottle against a side.
Pregnancy wedge pillows are of two different styles again. They are:
Round pregnancy wedge pillow: It resembles a filled-in crescent moon.
Triangular pregnancy wedge pillow: It looks like a wedge of cheese.
- Small and compact
- Perfect to use while traveling
- Multipurpose design allows supporting different body parts
- Supports only a small section, therefore, you may need separate pillows
- Requires a different head pillow
2. Full Length Pregnancy Pillow:
Full-length pillows are long and easily adaptable. They run along the length of your body and can be curled in any way to suit your needs. Though they are great to hug and embrace, they offer less support to the back when compared to other types of pregnancy pillows. You can feel the comfort by placing your arms and legs around it with the center supporting your tummy.
They are two different styles:
Straight full-length pregnancy pillow: It resembles a regular pillow but is much longer. It is made of polyester fibers and is not easily bent.
Flexible full-length pregnancy pillow: It looks like a draft stopper with a much larger version. It can bend and conform to any shape. Expensive pillows contain microbeads while cheaper varieties have standard styrofoam balls.
- Supports your complete body
- Relaxes your muscles. Therefore, you can have better blood circulation and breathing
- Does not require an extra pillow
- Offers less support for your back
- Hard to wash
- Occupies space on the bed
3. Total Body Pregnancy Pillows:
Total body pillows are ideal to use during the second trimester. They are long enough to tuck between your knees and prevent back and hip pain. As they are five to six feet long, women of any height can cuddle in it. It is an excellent support to the spine.
It is available in two varieties:
C-shaped pillow: It looks like the letter C and is suitable for a riding position. It offers support to all the four areas of the body – the head, tummy, back, and legs. The top of the C is used as a headrest and the base between the legs. Your back slides into the C curve, thereby easing the pressure on the spine.
U-shaped pillow: It is useful in a straddling position and for those who like to sleep on their back. It offers support from the head to the toe. To use it, place your head at the center of U and your two legs in a straddled position.
- Most supportive pillow
- Does not require any extra pillow
- The full body pregnancy pillows, especially the U-shaped, can also be used to support your toddler when breastfeeding.
- Too expensive
- Requires more space on your bed
An Ultimate Guide To Choose The Best Pregnancy Pillow:
You cannot buy just any pillow. What use can a pillow be if it does not suit your requirements? Ask the following questions before you zero in on a pillow:
1. Does the pillow have a removable cover?
A removable cover makes it easy to keep the pillow clean. During the later part of your pregnancy, you sweat a lot as the hormones work overtime. The pregnancy pillow will absorb the sweat and it could be difficult to clean it. A removable cover can keep the pillow clean and hygienic.
Also, choose the covers which have a simple slip or a zip rather than buttons or studs, for easy removal.
2. What filling is used in the pillow?
The material filled inside the pillow will have an impact on your sleep quality. The pillows are filled with different materials:
i. Styrofoam ball filling:
These are the tiny white balls, which you find in a bean bag. They are cheaper than other varieties and the most sold ones. The light-weight pillows are made of polystyrene and are filled with air so that they are easily adaptable to your body shape and support your body.
The only drawback is that they make noise as you toss on the pillow. They are not suitable for extended sleep.
ii. Polyester fiber filling:
It is a soft filling and does not cause any noise. They are the second most highly sold pillows. The amount of fiber in the pillow determines the firmness. It supports the body and allows you to toss around the bed.
The drawbacks of polyester fiber filling include:
- This material absorbs heat, and can also collect mites, dust, and bacteria. It can, therefore, result in breathing issues.
- Has a short lifespan of two years.
iii. Micro-beads filling:
They are pretty fine balls and make you will feel like there is sand inside the pillows. They are lightweight and less noisy. They are soft and smooth, and you can quickly move around the pillow with ease.
iv. Memory foam filling:
Pregnancy body pillows with memory foam filling are firm. They take the shape of your body when pressed against it, and regain their shape once you are up. They reduce the pressure point, body aches and relieve back pain.
The drawbacks of memory foam filling include:
- They emit an unpleasant odor, which may be due to your sweat and the chemicals in the material.
- They can increase your body temperature during hot seasons.
v. Natural and organic filling:
Natural fillings make pregnancy pillows breathable, ventilated and environment-friendly. The commonly used materials are bamboo, fiber, wool, spelt, and kapok.
The drawbacks are:
- They cannot regain the original shape after one use.
- They are not easy to clean.
vi. Buckwheat pillows:
They are durable. Buckwheat pillows contain a cotton bag filled with buckwheat hull. You can add or remove hull to suit your requirement. They are organic pillows, with very fewer chances of contracting allergies. You are also less likely to have heat build-ups during hot seasons and nights. Unlike the synthetic materials with a lifespan of two to five years, buckwheat pillows can stay for more than a decade.
The drawbacks of buckwheat pillows include:
- They make noise.
- They are expensive than memory foam, latex and polyester pillows.
vii. Therapeutic Pillow:
Experts mostly recommended this pillow as it supports the neck pain. It is made of two components: water, present inside the polyester pouch, and memory foam that floats over the water bag to offer great support to your head.
The reasons why clinical experts suggest this pillow are:
- You may quickly fall asleep
- You can sleep better
- You will have fewer sleep interruptions
3. The noise and smell of the pillow:
Some pillows produce freaking noise when you move your body and head. It disturbs your sleep. You should, therefore, pay attention to the material used in the pillow. Avoid styrofoam based pillows as they make noise.
Also, pillows have a chemical smell. For this, you should air the pillow for a few days. Memory foam pillows give an unpleasant smell.
4. Size of the pillow:
Size is another real factor you need to consider. The bigger the pillow, the more space it would occupy on the bed. You can go for a bigger pregnancy pillow if you have a large bed. It all depends on your bed size.
5. Soft vs. firm pregnancy pillows:
Most of you may prefer a soft pillow. However, they may not provide proper support. So, go for a firm pillow. Even though you may feel uncomfortable during the initial weeks, you will get used to with time.
6. Hypoallergenic pillow:
During pregnancy, your body is sensitive and is susceptible to allergies. If you have any allergies that lead to breathing problems or skin issues, choose hypoallergenic pillows.
7. Body Types, Sleeping Positions And The Choice Of Pillow:
You should also consider your body type and sleeping position before finalizing a pregnancy pillow. Here is an understanding of different body types, sleeping positions and choice of the pillow.
i. Twins or more:
Women with twins or more have a larger tummy than the regular pregnancy tummy. Therefore, a larger pillow would offer the needed support. The most recommended pillows for them are U-shaped pillows.
ii. Plus sized women:
C-shaped pillows are the perfect ones as you can fit in them perfectly.
iii. Petite women:
If you are short, you can get small sized pregnancy pillows. Best ones for short-sized women include LeachcoSnoogle Mini Compact and the Total Petite Body Pillows.
iv. Side sleepers:
If you are a side sleeper, it is easy to get comfortable. There is a range of pregnancy pillows to choose from, but the original shredded memory foam bamboo pillow is the best.
v. Back sleepers:
It is not advisable to sleep on your back. However, if you cannot help it, you can use Snoogle and Back N Belly pregnancy pillows as they help push against the back.
vi. Stomach sleepers:
Sleeping on the stomach may be enjoyable, but it also poses certain health risks. You are likely to develop a body ache and also snore. You should not use firm pregnancy pillows as they can make your face develop wrinkles. The shredded memory foam bamboo pillow is the best option.
Best Rated Pregnancy Pillows:
Here is a list of best pregnancy pillows. We took them based on the reviews by actual users:
1. LeachcoSnoogle Total Body Pillow (Best C-shaped pregnancy pillow):
It is labeled as the best selling full pregnancy body pillow on Amazon. This pillow has a long track record for offering support and cuddling to pregnant mothers. It is designed in such a way that its shape gives a perfect sleeping and resting time (4).
- Best pregnancy pillow for back pain as it offers maximum support to your back, helps relieve lower back pain and sciatica.
- Easy to tuck between knees, therefore controls body’s temperature and supports your back.
- The head support system helps relieve heartburn and acid reflux.
- Removable and washable sham-style cover.
- Dimension are 60 x 24.8 x 7.2 inches
- Made in the US.
2. Leachco Back N Belly Contoured Body Pillow (Best U-shaped pregnancy pillow):
The main aim of a maternity pillow is to have a good night’s sleep and wake up fresh in the morning. This pillow does just that. Its design suits your curves and does not cause any inconvenience when you re-position on the bed. It also elevates your hips in a proper position.
- Customized fitting that goes with your every move.
- Head support is double because of the reverse ends.
- Offers equal support to both your tummy and back.
- Removable and washable cover.
- Perfect fit for pregnant women and nursing mothers of all sizes.
- Designed in such a way that it prevents sciatica, acid reflux, congestion, fibromyalgia and carpel tunnel syndrome.
- Made of polyester.
- Available in two colors – ivory and white.
- Dimensions are 51 x 33.5 x 8.8 inches
- Made in the US.
3. Boppy Petite Grey (Best Pregnancy Wedge Pillow):
- Compact and portable.
- Easily removable Pima cotton cover.
- Machine washable zip-off cover.
- Dimensions are 14.5 x 11 x 3.5 inches
4. Shredded Memory Foam Body Pillow (Best Memory Foam Pillow):
- Combination of polyester (60%) and bamboo (40%)
- Machine washable
- Dust and mite resistant
- Made in the US
- Dimensions are 20 x 45 inches
The maternity pillow was once a luxury but has now become a necessity. Also, you can get them at a convenient price.
Have you ever tried a pregnancy pillow? How did you select that? Share your experiences in the comment section below.
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