How to sleep with a pregnancy pillow? 4 best sleeping positions
Sleep during pregnancy can be difficult to navigate. It goes without saying that a growing belly comes with aches and pains — not to mention any attempt at changing sleeping position results in catapulting yourself around like those air dancers at car dealerships (bye-bye abs!).
Enter: The pregnancy pillow. Here, we'll look at how to lay on a pregnancy pillow comfortably to help ease the common aches and pains of growing a tiny human.
IN THIS ARTICLE:
What is a pregnancy pillow and what are the types?
Pregnancy pillows are body support pillows that allow for optimal positioning to improve comfort, thereby improving sleep. Pregnancy pillows can come in handy, as they are known to relieve common aches and pains associated with pregnancy, especially low back, and hip pain .
There are several varieties of pregnancy pillows, but the 3 most popular are:
Pillow wedges (much smaller and usually fit just behind the back or underneath the belly)
Regardless of the type of pillow you choose, the positioning of the pillow to promote neutral spinal alignment (the natural position of the spine when all three curves: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar are aligned with each other) is what is important.
This allows the muscles surrounding the pelvis and hips to relax. Whether you’re using a regular standard pillow, a U-shaped pillow, or a rolled-up towel, the recommendation is that it be placed between the thighs and knees, supporting those achy muscles and joints from the hips to the knees.
When should you start sleeping with a pregnancy pillow?
It is not absolutely necessary to sleep with a pregnancy pillow at all. However, most pregnant women find that they have increased difficulty finding a comfortable sleeping position or are unable to roll over without a struggle around 20 weeks. This may be a good time to try a supportive maternity pillow rather than trying to create a comfortable sleep space using all the throw pillows stolen from your living room.
4 best sleeping positions with pregnancy pillows
Here are the most comfortable ways to sleep using different pregnancy pillows:
Using C-shaped pregnancy pillow supports the back
By placing the C-shaped pregnancy pillow behind your back, laying your head on the part that reaches around, and placing the end between your knees, will give optimal back support.
Using C-shaped pregnancy pillow supports the front
Place the C-shaped pillow in front of you as you lay down on your side and placing the end between your knees will give you front support.
Using U-shaped pregnancy pillow to sleep
Place the full body U-shaped pregnancy pillow with the "U" connected end behind your head so it supports your head and both sides when you lay down.
Using I-shaped pregnancy pillow to sleep
Lay down on the side you want to sleep on and place the I-shaped pregnancy pillow, also known as a body pillow, on the side that you want to be supported.
Ways to use a pregnancy pillow after baby’s born
Good news: There's no need to get rid of your maternity pillow after delivery!
Here are a few ideas:
Keep using it for comfortable sleep while your body recovers from delivery or if you toss and turn a lot.
Use it for support while bottle feeding, breastfeeding, or holding your baby. (But don't let them sleep on it.)
As your baby gets older, it can be used to help prop them up as they learn to sit on their own.
If you have older kids, they can use it for comfort, too! Bring it on long car rides or relax with it on the couch.
To summarize, here are the key points for sleeping with a pregnancy pillow:
Pregnancy pillows provide optimal positioning for improved comfort and sleep during pregnancy. It is not necessary to sleep with a pregnancy pillow, but many pregnant women find it helpful for finding a comfortable sleeping position.
The two most popular types of pregnancy pillows are C-shaped and U-shaped pillows, with pillow wedges also available.
Regardless of the type of pillow, the important thing is to promote neutral spinal alignment and support the muscles and joints from the hips to the knees.
The four best sleeping positions with pregnancy pillows include using a C-shaped pillow for back and front support, using a U-shaped pillow for full-body support, and using an I-shaped pillow (body pillow) for support on one side while sleeping.
Experiment with different positions and pillow placements to find what works best for you and provides the most comfort and support during pregnancy.
After delivery, you can use your pregnancy pillow for support while feeding and holding your baby. (But don't use it for bed-sharing.)
Sleeping with a pregnancy pillow FAQ
Q: Can you sleep on your back with a pregnancy pillow?
A pregnancy pillow allows for a more comfortable side-lying position and generally helps to avoid flat-back sleeping. A U-shaped pregnancy pillow supports both the front and back, which helps to avoid rolling into a flat-back position. Even if you are partially elevated or supported in a more back-lying position, this is considered to be safe.
Q: Can you sleep on your stomach with a pregnancy pillow?
Generally, it is quite uncomfortable to sleep on your stomach at most points during pregnancy, and a pregnancy pillow is designed for comfortable side-lying positions.
Q: How to sleep with a pregnancy pillow for hip pain?
Read more about sleeping positions during pregnancy in this article. We talk about the best and worst positions for pregnancy. One position would be using a long regular pillow or a pregnancy pillow between the upper thighs to create space in the pelvis and hips.
Note: The content on this site is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice from your doctor, pediatrician, or medical professional. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact a medical professional.
Quintero, K, et al. (2018). Design and Development of Maternity Pillow: An Ergonomic Approach. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-13-1059-1_43