All pregnant people deserve quality rest, whether it is for several hours at night or a 20-minute catnap (or three) during the day. But growing a human is often an uncomfortable experience, making restful sleep tricky. Laura Erlich, fertility and obstetric specialist and founder of Mother Nurture Wellness, explains that “when it comes to pregnancy, sleep needs may change as the weeks tick by. Early pregnancy doesn’t usually require any changes to your sleep style, but as the belly grows, adjustments may be necessary.” Pregnancy pillows can help ease your bedtime pregnancy woes. Designed to support your hips, legs, and back — the parts of your body that tend to hold the most stress — Elrich explains that pregnancy pillows “allow you to tuck the lower part between your knees, keeping your hips aligned, a key to keeping the low back stable and pain-free.”
Most pillows that are marketed as pregnancy pillows are very large and deliver full-body support by way of U, C, or J shapes that help provide localized pressure relief to different parts of your body, depending on your needs. However, some pregnant people find that slimmer rectangular body pillows and wedge-shaped pillows get the job done without taking up too much space in their bed. No matter which shape you choose, the main purpose of a pregnancy pillow is to bring your head, neck, spine, and hips into a neutral position.
To that end, while hugging a squishy soft pillow might sound the most appealing, Seth Davis, sleep consultant and founder of Sleepably, explains that firmer pillows are usually the way to go. “Firm pillows are a great option for full-body support because they do a better job of supporting people during the night,” he says. “Because they are firmer, they are better at providing head and neck support, helping you maintain healthy body alignment during sleep, preventing unnecessary movements, and taking pressure off of your joints.” Soft pillows aren’t totally out of the question, though. Davis explains that soft pillows can be comfortable and still offer a lower level of support that may suit your needs.
We talked to Davis, Elrich, and three other experts to find the best pregnancy pillows to snuggle up with for nine months and beyond.
Best overall | Best less expensive | Best for side sleepers | Best C-shape | Best U-shape | Best rectangular | Best for back sleepers | Best J-shape | Best wedge | Best adjustable shape | Best memory foam | Best for tall people | Best contoured
What we look for:
Shape:Carleara Weiss, Ph.D., member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and adviser to Pluto Pillow, explains that “pillows of different shapes and sizes have a different impact on sleep, according to the area covered, such as the side or the back of the head, the side of the body, and part of the shoulders and arms.” Unlike bed pillows that are commonly limited to some form of a rectangle, pregnancy pillows come in various shapes and sizes to help target pains and aches associated with pregnancy. Here’s how they break down.
U-shaped: These extra-large pillows provide head-to-toe support, which can especially come in handy in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Some U-shaped pillows feature a contoured curve that mimics the shape of a pregnancy bump, while others are more like a folded spaghetti noodle. Whichever you choose, U-shaped pillows “are great for side sleepers who flip from side to side frequently, as you don’t have to move pillows back and forth,” Erlich explains.
C-shaped: Similar to U-shaped pillows, a C shape provides extended support when compared to a standard rectangular body pillow. “C-shaped pillows work similarly to U-shaped but without the second side. They take up less space and can move easily with you,” explains Erlich. Since the second side of the pillow isn’t there, you will have to shift a C-shaped pillow from one side of your body to the other if you want to alternate between back support and belly support.
J-shaped: Shaped like a candy cane, “J-shaped pillows provide an extra curve at the bottom, which offers added support between the legs, helping to keep the hips properly spaced to support the lower back,” says Erlich. You can also flip them around to use the curve of the J underneath your head.
Wedge: In contrast to the other options, a wedge is for localized support. Shaped like a chunk of fancy aged cheese, you can slide this type of pillow under your bump, under your lower back, or between your thighs or knees for extra support. They tend to be smaller, which is great if you are working with limited or shared sleeping space. The main downside is that you will need to use them in conjunction with another pillow.
Fill Type: As with your regular bed pillows and mattress that you sleep on, the type of fill in your pregnancy pillow matters. According to Weiss, the best pillow for pregnancy should be medium-firm, which she says is “soft enough to be comfortable but sturdy enough to support body weight overnight without flattening out.” This level of firmness is typically achieved with polyfill, memory foam, microfiber, or latex — or a mix of a few of these fill types.
Size: Bed pillows typically stick to a handful of sizes that range from standard to king. Pregnancy pillows, in contrast, can vary in length and width depending on the shape. While an oversize pillow will definitely offer you the most full-body support, it will also take up a ton of real estate in your bed, which can be uncomfortable for you and anyone you share your sleeping space with. Additionally, large C- and U-shaped pillows tend to be quite bulky, so lugging them from your bed to your couch and back again when you’re in your third trimester can be quite the task. Smaller pillows like wedges and standard body pillows will leave plenty of room in your bed, but you are swapping head-to-toe support for that extra space.
Best overall pregnancy pillow
Poly-fill | U-shaped | 31 by 55, 60, or 65 inches | Medium firmness | Machine-washable cover
Contoured to gently hug your body, the Queen Rose pregnancy pillow will be especially useful from the second trimester onward. The U-shaped design is a preferred option, according to the experts we talked to, because it offers full-body support. Sleep consultant Kelly Murray explains that U-shaped pillows are great for anyone, pregnant or otherwise, who in general “experiences pain on a higher level and wants to feel supported all over,” from people with fibromyalgia to expectant mamas — “especially those well into their pregnancy, those with sciatica, lumbar pain, and neck pain combinations.” Stuffed with polyfill, this pillow is firm enough to keep your limbs supported while you rest. The cozy cover can be tossed in the wash to keep maintenance low-key, and it comes in three lengths so you can choose the one that will best suit your height.
Best (less-expensive) pregnancy pillow
Recycled polyfill | C-shape | 30 by 57 inches | Firm | Machine-washable cover
The CeeCee pillow by PharMeDoc has a comforting C shape that can be wrapped around your bump or used to add support along your spine. The firm polyfill pillow has an organic cotton cover that can be easily removed and washed. You can also twist this pillow around your waist for lumbar support while you are sitting upright or use it to elevate potentially swollen feet.
Best pregnancy pillow for side sleepers
Polyester fiber | Dual wedge | 14 by 24 inches | Firm | Machine-washable cover
Sleeping on your side is really the only option available once your bump begins to expand, and this pregnancy pillow by Boppy is created to support you in that position. Weiss explains that “the ideal pillow should provide spinal alignment for side sleeping, comfort, and stability without flattening out during the night,” and this dual wedge pillow does just that, with one end nestling under your lower back and the other side fitting under your bump. The stretchy middle panel that connects the wedges helps you to stay in the side-sleeping position throughout your slumber, and you also don’t have to reposition the pillow if you turn to your other side. It’s a smaller pillow that provides more isolated support for your bump and your lower back, unlike the full-body options on our list. Additionally, you’ll have to use a separate bed pillow under your head, which could be a plus if you have a favorite that aligns your spine, head, and neck.
Best C-shaped pregnancy pillow
65 percent polyester, 35 percent cotton fill | C-shaped | 25 by 60 inches | Medium firmness | Machine-washable cover
Highly rated and reviewed, the C-shaped Snoogle pregnancy pillow can provide belly and knee support or spine and hip support, depending on how you use it. It’s a bit more versatile than a U-shaped pillow because you can more easily maneuver and position the length of the C shape to deliver more or less support where you need it. However, you have to readjust it when you change sleeping positions. Like the CeeCee pillow above, the Snoogle can be twisted around your waist for lumbar support while you sit.
Best U-shaped pregnancy pillow
Cooling gel or natural latex | U-shaped | 28.5 by 55 inches | Firm | Machine-washable cover
Erlich explains that U-shaped pillows “are great for side sleepers who flip from side to side frequently, as you don’t have to move pillows back and forth.” The Yana pillow has a contoured U shape that is designed to hug the natural curves of your body. The semi-flexible pillow can be tied, twirled, twisted, and used while sleeping, sitting, or just lounging. The brand offers two fill types — cooling gel or natural latex — that you can choose between when you order. Both fill types are the same price and are adjustable to make the pillow firmer or softer, so you can customize your sleeping experience. The pillow has a machine-washable cover, and the brand notes that it can be “tied in a decorative knot for compact storage when not in use.”
Best rectangular pregnancy pillow
Shredded memory foam and microfiber | Rectangular | 20 by 54 inches | Adjustable firmness | Machine-washable cover
Although it’s common for pregnancy pillows to have specialized shapes, there’s a fair argument for using rectangular body pillows for bump support, especially if you are short on bed space. Davis notes that “you can hug it, place it between your knees, and place your head on it like the other options,” which will bring your body into a neutral, pressure-relieving position. Filled with a blend of cross-cut microfiber and memory foam, this Coop Home body pillow is firm and supportive without compromising comfort. The amount of fill inside the pillow can be adjusted to create a softer or firmer feel. If you are uncertain of whether to buy a larger pregnancy pillow or a traditional rectangular body pillow, Davis mentions that although rectangular body pillows can certainly suffice, they are “not as contoured to your body as the other options, and you won’t get support for your back,” which could make a difference depending on your needs. However, they may be your best choice for a full-body pillow if you are short on space.
Best pregnancy pillow for back sleepers
Polyurethane foam | Dual wedge | Adjustable size | Medium-firm | Machine-washable cover
Many doctors recommend avoiding back sleeping later in your pregnancy. For die-hard back sleepers, snoozing on your side can be a rough but necessary transition. Personal trainer Holly Roser says that rolling onto your back to sleep “can put too much pressure on your vena cava,” which carries blood to your heart, so using a pregnancy or body pillow can help keep you on your side. The unique shape of the Belly Bandit SOS Side Sleeper pillow gently locks you into a side sleeping position while also supporting your lower spine and belly. The three-piece pillow has a velcro strap that lays under your body, a tall triangular wedge pillow that is placed behind your back to prevent you from rolling onto your back, and a flatter wedge pillow that is placed under your belly for sturdy support. The two pillows can be moved along the velcro strap to accommodate your belly as you get further into your pregnancy. This pillow is similar to the Boppy Side Sleeper pillow but is a better option if you want firmer support and a customizable design that will easily expand with your bump. The solid polyurethane foam pillows are protected by stretchy covers that can be removed and washed.
Best J-shaped pregnancy pillow
Synthetic fiber fill | J-shaped | 28 by 40 inches | Medium-firm | Machine-washable cover
J-shaped pillows are similar to the traditional rectangular body pillow, but the main difference is that the hook shape can be used between your legs for knee and hip support or under your head for pressure relief. The Momcozy J-shaped pregnancy pillow has a contoured shape along its inside curve, so you can pull it close to your body.
Best wedge pregnancy pillow
Memory foam | Wedge | 15 by 13 inches | Adjustable firmness | Machine-washable cover
Versatile and portable, wedge pillows can be used in conjunction with another pillow or on their own to provide localized support for your legs, hips, belly, or back. This double-sided wedge-style pillow features soft, moldable memory foam on one side and firmer foam on the other so that the pillow can fit your needs as your bump grows. The wedge can be placed under your bump for support or under your lower back to prevent you from rolling onto your back while you’re snoozing. While the larger pillows on this list offer full-body support, this wedge is much smaller and targeted. It measures 13.25 by 15 by 4.5 inches, so you can toss it in a bag, carry-on, or diaper bag to use on the go.
Best adjustable-shape pregnancy pillow
Polystyrene Foam Beads | Rectangular | 9 by 54 inches | Adjustable firmness | Machine-washable cover
Aches, pains, and pressure during pregnancy have a way of ping-ponging throughout your body, and this extra-flexible pillow can deliver support where you need it. Filled with polystyrene microbeads, the Frida Mom pregnancy pillow has a memory foam-like responsiveness but is more breathable as heat is able to dissipate easily, which Murray says is an essential component of quality sleep. “Our core body temperature must lower by a couple of degrees Fahrenheit in order to synthesize melatonin at night to help us fall asleep and stay asleep, so it’s really important that the body pillow you choose is breathable and doesn’t make you too hot,” Murray explains. With a customizable design, the pillow has a short, tapered end on one side and a fuller, longer end on the other. The ends are separated by an adjustable strip that allows you to twist and fold the pillow into a C shape, U shape, I shape, or J shape. One side of this compact pillow has a soft, stretchy material that gives to the weight of your body, while the non-stretch side offers a firmer surface for more support. The cover can be removed and washed and dried with your regular laundry.
Best memory-foam pregnancy pillow
Memory foam | Rectangular | 20 by 54 inches | Medium firmness | Entire pillow is machine washable
According to Davis, shredded memory foam can give you the firm responsiveness that you need for consistent support but without trapping heat like solid memory foam can. This GreenGuard Gold and Certi-PUR US certified pillow is filled with breathable shredded memory foam and wrapped in a machine-washable bamboo cover that allows air to flow through. Since this is a rectangular shape instead of a letter shape like the other picks in the list, it is a good choice for leg, hip, and under-the-belly support. While it isn’t contoured, the shredded memory foam filling allows you to bring it close to your body to hug. Plus, the entire pillow can be machine-washed and dried.
Best pregnancy pillow for tall people
Polyester fiber fill | U-shaped | 31 by 65 inches | Adjustable firmness | Machine-washable cover
This 65-inch pregnancy pillow by Meiz can provide support for anyone who’s taller than average, measuring nearly a foot longer than many of the pillows on this list. The lengthy pillow has a polyester fiber filling, making it firm and comfortable. If the pillow arrives too firm, you can remove some of the filling to make it more flexible and soft. The large U shape can be used as a leg, hip, belly, head, and neck support, and the cover is machine washable.
Best contoured pregnancy pillow
Polyester fiber fill | C-shaped | 25 by 48 inches | Medium firmness | Machine-washable cover
One of the major downsides to full-body pregnancy pillows is that they eat up so much of the space in your bed, which can be a pain for your partner, pets, or anyone you may be sharing your bed with. This pregnancy pillow by Boppy has a slightly shorter profile, and the super-narrow middle section allows you to secure the top portion under your upper body and the lower part between your legs without taking up as much extra room. The slim C-shaped pillow has a contoured curve that makes it comfortable to curl your body around it, which Murray explains is the best way to use a body or pregnancy pillow. “The shape you’re going for is a modified fetal position, just like when we were in the womb. You want a gentle extension of your spine through your tailbone and also through your neck. When the tailbone is poking up in a ‘swoop,’ the C curve of the fetal position is disturbed and can put pressure on the lumbar spine,” she explains. When you’re awake, the narrow middle section allows you to fold and twist the pillow so that you can use it as a nursing pillow or for back support while sitting.
• Seth Davis, sleep consultant and founder of Sleepably
• Laura Erlich, fertility and obstetric specialist and founder of Mother Nurture Wellness
• Kelly Murray, sleep consultant
• Holly Roser, personal trainer
• Carleara Weiss, member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and adviser to Pluto Pillow
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