What is a Pregnancy Pillow? Uses and Benefits

Having a special pillow for pregnant women minimizes the discomfort caused by the physical changes of pregnancy. In addition to sleeping comfortably, you contribute to your baby's well-being.
What is a Pregnancy Pillow? Uses and Benefits
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Last update: 09 October, 2022

As gestation progresses and body changes occur, sleeping discomfort also increases. A pregnancy pillow can be a great solution to help you fall asleep.

It’s common for women to feel physical discomfort when pregnant, especially during the last trimester. These special cushions made for pregnant women can help to relieve your discomfort.

Also, sleeping without so many inconveniences allows you to wake up in a better mood and without aches and pains. So, what are these miracle pillows? What are they made of? We’ll tell you all about them in this article!

What is a pregnancy pillow, and what are its characteristics?

A pregnancy pillow is an accessory designed to help expectant mothers rest comfortably. In addition, using prenatal pillows helps the baby’s well-being.

Research published by The Journal of Physiology assures that the variability of the fetal heart rate is affected by the maternal position. According to this claim, the posture adopted by the mother is very important and conventional pillows sometimes aren’t enough.

Instead, maternity pillows promote ergonomic positions that minimize pain in the back, neck, legs, pelvis, and hips. Such ailments complicate falling asleep and are experienced by insomnia, cramps, fatigue, and weight gain.

Pregnancy pillows vary in length, so you can choose according to your height. As for the composition, they’re filled with cotton, feathers, or foam. They’re quite elastic and don’t break down easily. 

Types of pregnancy pillows

There are long and straight prenatal pillows, but depending on your needs, you’ll find more than one type. Here they are.

Rest during pregnancy is key. Many mothers suffer from insomnia and can’t find a suitable sleeping position.

Pregnancy pillows: Wedges

The term gives away the appearance of the cushion. It’s a small wedge made of foam.

These pillows require a traditional pillow as a compliment, to put your head or back on when you’re lying down or sitting. They’re often perceived as “hard,” as they’re created to soothe pain in the lumbar area, legs, and ankles.

Two-in-one pregnancy pillows

These are also known as “maternity pillows.” They’re ideal for supporting the head, back, and belly when sleeping on your side. The structure consists of two cushions joined with Velcro.

Tubular pillows

The essence of this pillow is a soft tube that the woman hugs to accommodate her belly.

Half-moon cushion pillows

In theory, these are manufactured to facilitate the position of the child and the comfort of the mother during breastfeeding. However, during pregnancy, they function as a complement to maternal rest.

Alphabet pillows

With various sizes and simulating letters, these pillows are among the most popular among mothers-to-be:

  • Type C: These are approximately one and a half meters long. With them, you sleep on your side, supporting your hips, belly, and back. You can put it between your legs as well. They’re recommended to soothe pelvic tension and fluid retention in the ankles.
  • Type J: If you sleep in a medium bed, this is a good option. It’s suitable for resting your head and legs.
  • Type L: This is designed for women who sleep on their side.
  • Type U: This type adapts to the curvature of the body. Those who sleep on their back find complete support with this model. In addition, they allow you to elevate your knees and hips, thus mitigating joint stiffness.

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The benefits of pregnancy pillows

Although it’s not easy to find a pleasant position in the last trimester, these alternatives pamper vulnerable points, adapting to the physiognomy of any pregnant woman.

They’re a very compact product. They don’t take up so much space in the bed or when it’s time to store them. Let’s take a look at some other benefits.

1. They help you sleep

At the beginning of pregnancy, progesterone levels rise and the metabolism is accelerated. The situation could lead to fatigue and drowsiness, according to an article from the Mayo Clinic.

The main advantage of these pillows is linked to rest. If you have a pregnancy pillow and position it correctly, you reduce movement in bed. And when you relax, you fall asleep better.

2. Pregnancy pillows help to relieve low back pain

Low back pain predominates among the frequent complaints of pregnant women, according to the Revista Clínica de la Escuela de Medicina UCR-HSJD (Clinical Journal of the UCR-HSJD School of Medicine). The text argues that the condition corresponds to the hormonal, physiological, and physical transformation of conception.

With these pillows, perhaps the mother will put an end to this and other pains or reduce them, thanks to the anatomical particularities of the article.

3. They promote healthy blood flow

Blood circulation in pregnant women can be affected, especially by the weight they are carrying. This helps to rest with the legs elevated and to the left.

In this regard, a study published by the National Library of Medicine of the United States highlights that some professionals ask to sleep on the left side to improve the blood flow between the heart, the uterus, the fetus, and the kidneys.

They add that this position eliminates the pressure on the liver. A prenatal pillow is useful in this mission.

4. Pregnancy pillows provide support when breastfeeding

The investment extends until after delivery. Just as you used it to rest, the ergonomics of the cushions are useful in breastfeeding. Take advantage of it to feed your baby without cramping your arms or shoulders.

5. They help soothe abdominal pressure

If you’ve had a cesarean section, it’s likely that in the weeks that following, your abdominal region will continue to be tender and a little sore. Using the cushion to lie down or to hold the baby prevents discomfort and reduces pressure on the abdomen.

6. They’re hypoallergenic

The manufacturing materials are designed to benefit both mother and child. Since they’re breathable and hypoallergenic, there’s no risk of allergies or skin rashes.

Apart from cotton, foam, and feathers, these pillows are also available in polyester fiber and polystyrene beads. They may also be made of latex or gel due to the consistency of these materials and their ability to resist dust mites.

Almohada de embarazo para los dolores.
The correct use of these pillows can result in less pain and more comfortable sleep.

7. Cleaning is simple

Washing pregnancy pillows is very simple: almost all of them go in the washing machine. Some allow you to remove the lining. In any case, check the manufacturer’s instructions.

We think you may be interested in reading this, too: Physical Exercise for Pregnant Women: Good Exercises during Pregnancy

Tips for using a pregnancy pillow

As long as you use the cushion properly, you’ll get the rest you want. Take note of the following tips to improve your experience:

  • It goes under the belly: By positioning it under the belly, you balance the weight and do not overload the thighs and knees.
  • Accommodates your neck: Try to keep the spine as straight as possible.
  • Cross your legs: Tucking your limbs between the prenatal pillow lowers the pressure on your lower back.
  • Raise your knees: These joints suffer too much from the weight in late pregnancy. Elevate your knees for fluid circulation and to avoid fluid retention.
  • Support your back: If you have good back support, there will be no postural changes during the night, and you won’t interrupt your sleep.

How to choose the right pregnancy pillow

To purchase the right pregnancy pillow, check factors such as manufacturing material, size, durability, cleaning instructions, comfort, and flexibility.

When choosing such a cushion, it’s also important that you take into account the way you are used to sleeping and your physical build. This way, you can get the most out of it.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.