Ask any expectant mother, and she will quickly confirm the fact that pregnancy has its woes. From backache, cramps, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, incontinence, constipation to heartburn and indigestion, annoying problems abound everywhere you look.
One common strain among these issues is that they can all negatively impact your wellbeing and significantly reduce your sleep quality. For many pregnant women, the most irritating problem is the simple inability to get some decent sleep.
Note: According to a 1998 sleep poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 78% of American women report significantly more disturbed sleep during gestation than in any other period of their lives.
Consequently, many pregnant women end up sleep-deprived and report episodes of extreme fatigue.
One solution popular that can help improve this issue involves the use of supportive pillows to help shore up the body and bring increased comfort and enhance the quality of sleep. Even better, you can opt for a pregnancy pillow that features a design that provides specialized support to help deal with any potential aches.
Tip: Even outside pregnancy, pregnancy pillows can provide the support and comfort you need to deal with other pains and aches, and unsurprisingly, you will find many mothers still using their pregnancy pillows long after their child is born.
However, to get the best experience from your new pregnancy pillow, you must know how to integrate it into your sleep setup to maximize comfort seamlessly.
How to Sleep With a Pregnancy Pillow?
The best way to sleep with a pregnancy pillow depends on the type of pillow you choose.
There are six main types of pregnancy pillows you can choose from depending on your needs and specific situation. Each pillow type comes with its own set of unique attributes, advantages, and possible use cases.
1. C-shaped Pillow
With C-shaped pillows, you get large curved pads that can provide extra support for you along one axis with spillovers for your head and pelvis. These pillows feature a design that wraps around your frame while you are lying on your side, propping your back, head, neck, and pelvic area.
If you need a body pillow that provides dedicated support to all significant problem areas, a C-shaped pad is one of your best options. Their extensive support also makes them an excellent choice for dealing with water retention in your ankles and leg.
However, one major drawback to C-shaped pillows is that because of their shape, you have to go through the hassle of flipping the pad every time you switch sides.
Nevertheless, on the flip side, this unique shape means that the pillow helps to keep you in position through the night, making it an excellent choice for women who aren’t used to sleeping on their side.
How to Use a C-shaped Pillow
Wrap the pillow around your back, using one end as a makeshift pillow for head and neck support, and the other in between your legs to support your pelvic region.
Alternatively, you can wrap the pillow around your front instead, providing support for your belly instead of your back.
2. U-shaped Pillow
Unhappy with the compromises that come with a C-shaped pillow? Then you should consider snagging a U-shaped one. U-shaped pillows are the most luxurious of the lot as they offer the most amount of support coverage for your body, providing props for your head and neck, knees, ankles, back, and belly.
Consequently, U-shaped pillows are often more extensive and more expensive than other pregnancy pillow types.
Thanks to their ability to support your back and belly at the same time, U-shaped pillows are excellent for women who toss and turn during the night as, unlike a C-shaped pad, you never have to flip this one.
Furthermore, this unique shape also makes them excellent for back sleepers as it provides enough support to prop the body from both sides.
Important: According to the American Pregnancy Association, the best position to sleep during pregnancy is on your side, preferably on your left side.
How to Sleep with U-Shaped Pillows
Wrap the pillow around your back and stomach, then enjoy.
3. Wedge-Shaped Pillows
Wedge pillows are small triangular-shaped or crescent-shaped pillows that you can use as props for extra support. Due to their small, portable size, wedge-shaped pads are the most versatile of the lot, as you can use them to target specific parts of the body. They are also dirt cheap, with most options retailing for under 50 bucks.
You can use wedge pillows to prop your head, belly, back, or postpartum as extra support when breastfeeding your baby. With wedges, the only limit to their use is your imagination, and it is not hard to see why they are a favorite option among pregnant and regular people alike.
How to Sleep with a Wedge-shaped Pillow
For pregnant women, one of the best potential use cases for a wedge is in supporting the underside of your belly when you are lying on your side.
This setup can help to increase comfort and improve spine alignment significantly. However, remember to opt for a pillow with a less steep incline during the later stages of pregnancy to avoid pushing your stomach too high.
Under the Head
This use case can considerably help with another common issue that faces many pregnant women: acid reflux and heartburn. Use a wedge under your regular pillow with the higher end starting at the top of your head and incline running along your neck and upper back.
This setup will give your head and neck a slightly vertical incline that can significantly reduce the occurrence of acid reflux.
4. J-Shaped Pillow
A J-shaped pillow is a U-shaped pillow with one side missing. Hence, these pillows bring similar properties to the U-shaped pillow, with the exception being that you can support your back and belly simultaneously with this option.
Since a J-shaped is also half the size of a U-shaped pillow, they are also significantly smaller and more compatible with more compact beds and sleeping with a partner.
How to Sleep with J-shaped Pillows
With J-shaped pillows, you have two possible use case option:
- Between Your Legs: You can hug the pillow, with one leg on top and the other underneath the pillow, so it provides support for your belly.
- Around Your Back: Alternatively, you can use the pillow as a prop against your back, providing support and helping to hold you in position through the night, by preventing you from rolling over.
5. Full-Length Pillows
Full-length pillows are akin to a regular pillow but longer. These pillows work similarly to a wedge as they are pretty versatile, and you can use them wherever you need the most support.
How to Use Full-Length Pillows
While you can use full-length pillows to prop up any part of your body, one of the most popular ways pregnant women use them is for belly support by hugging the pad with a leg above and the other below it.
6. Inflatable Pillows
Sleeping on your stomach during pregnancy, especially during the latter stages, is almost impossible. However, inflatable pillows provide some relief for women who default to sleeping on their stomachs.
These air-filled pillows work as an extra layer that sits atop your mattress to ease the strain on your belly when stomach-sleeping. Inflatable pillows come with a donut hole in the center that fits your stomach and prevents you from resting your weight on it.
However, we would not recommend inflatable pillow use, especially during your second and third trimester. Instead, consider training yourself to side sleep using a C-shaped or U-shaped pillow.
How to Use Inflatable Pillows
Sleep on your stomach and fit your belly into the provided donut hole.
Sleep With A Pregnancy Pillow: More FAQs
When Should You Start Sleeping With A Pregnancy Pillow?
For the first trimester, a little extra cushioning with a flat pillow is typically sufficient for areas where you need support. However, from the late second to the third trimester, you should consider upgrading to a dedicated pregnancy pillow.
Why Is It Wrong To Sleep On Your Back While Pregnant?
Sleeping on your back places the entire weight of your growing baby on your spine, your intestines, and your vena cava, the vain responsible for transferring blood from your lower body to your heart.
Cutting blood supply through your vena cava can cause low blood pressure and heart failure. Sleeping on your back can also exacerbate back pain.
How Much Sleep Do You Need While Pregnant?
Same as a regular adult, around 8 hours. However, due to the tasking nature of pregnancy on the body, matching the full recommendation is especially important for expectant mothers.