Updated on: May 20, 2017

Best Pregnancy Pillows: How to Pick a Maternity Pillow

A buyer's guide for moms that don't have all day to read about maternity pillows.
Sleeping Isn't Easy When You're Pregnant

Pregnancy is pretty much going to destroy any chance you have of maintaining your favorite sleeping position. For lots of moms, sleeping itself will become almost impossible. Back sleepers and tummy sleepers usually have it the worst.

But, you probably already know this because you're most likely searching for maternity pillows or pregnancy pillows.

The Busy Mom's Quick-Pick
If you're short on time and can't read the whole article, here is my #1 pick: U-shaped Back ‘N Belly. It is a full body pillow that offers more support than any other option. Click here to read more information about our top pick.

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A wedge pregnancy pillow

Pregnancy is a blessed state, but also one that brings many changes to mom’s body. The outcome is the most wonderful thing in the world, but the process of getting to hold your baby (while being worth it) sometimes isn’t comfortable.

Enter pregnancy pillow – a majestic invention that helps mommies rest and alleviates their back and neck pains.

There are numerous brands and types of pregnancy pillows out there, and I’ve received enough public interest/requests to decide it’s worth writing a buyer’s guide. In this article, I won’t just tell you my favorite pillow, I’ll be doing my best to help you choose the best pregnancy pillow for you.

Benefits of Pregnancy Body Pillows

I don’t know how people got through pregnancy without one! Most women have leg cramps, back pain, and general uncomfortableness as their belly continues to grow. There are different types of pillows, each with different benefits, but the goal is always the same: let mom sleep.

More than two-thirds of pregnant women experience back pain and almost one-fifth experience pelvic pain. The pain increases with advancing pregnancy and interferes with work, daily activities and sleep.

— Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group [source]

My personal experience

During my first pregnancy, I was high-key paranoid that I would somehow hurt the baby in my sleep. This fear was mostly rooted in the fact that I tend to kick at night.

I found it very hard to relax and was constantly in fear that somehow I would completely roll over on my belly. Don’t ask me how, physics is not my strong suit… Right about this time one of my friends guided me towards purchasing a pregnancy pillow. At that point, I just wanted to sleep through the night. Whether I was snuggled in a pillow nest or tied to the bed post, it seriously did not matter much to me – so long as I was asleep and relaxed.

List of benefits

There are many known benefits of using a pregnancy pillow. From personal experience, I can attest to the following:

  • an overall feeling of comfort
  • full body support (back, baby bump, neck, legs, shoulders, etc.)
  • less tossing and turning by limiting movements
  • longer, uninterrupted sleep
  • less snoring
  • better blood flow
  • less water retention
  • reduced heartburn

Thanks to my pillow, I could sleep still in half fetal position.

The baby product you can keep on using!

I almost never get to say this when I talk about maternity and baby products! This is a purchase that you can always use. After giving birth, you can use your pillow for support while nursing. Ten years down the road, I still imagine that I’ll use my pillow for relieving back pains and keeping my feet elevated.

My husband uses it too, and he isn't alone.

I had been eyeing that pillow during my wife's entire pregnancy. After our son was born she casually mentioned how she didn't need it anymore and was planning to get rid of it. I figuratively and literally jumped on that pillow immediately and have been sleeping with it ever since.

— Reddit User fangorn [source]

If you've got a dog, your pup might even try to claim it for his own. This isn’t a car seat or a baby swing that quickly becomes useless after your baby grows for a few years.

The Types of Pregnancy Pillows

Finding the right pillow is a lot like true love, you just have to find your perfect match. Let’s see what’s out there!

Full-Body Pregnancy Pillows

Well, the main pro is that it’s big. And the main con is… that it’s big. Since I bought the U-shaped full body pillow, the neck was also covered. It did help me with overall muscle relaxation and immense back pain, but I simply have to sleep on my pillow.

I know what you are going to say, “if it’s U-shaped, why didn’t I just turn it around?” Well, if I did, then I had to put my feet up. Overall, it’s a great pillow, and a lifesaver but at times I just missed my own neck pillow. This pregnancy pillow might be approved by moms, but some dads won’t be so fond – for couples who like to snuggle up real close when sleeping, full coverage is an issue.

Pros

  • Size – it’s so large and fluffy, that you feel like in a peaceful nest.
  • Full coverage - it totally envelops the entire body, and I didn’t have any doubt about me not moving
  • Can be used by toddlers – after the pregnancy, kids can enjoy it too.

Cons

  • Bulky – these full-body pregnancy pillows take up a lot of space in the bed (but yes, the size is also a huge pro).
  • Price – since full-body pregnancy pillows are the largest, their price is also… Full.
  • Can’t use your own pillow – this may just be a con to me, I am emotionally attached to my old one.

Best Full-Body Pregnancy Pillow

U-shaped Back ‘N Belly pregnancy pillow

Best Full-Body Pregnancy Pillow out there: U-shaped Back ‘N Belly pregnancy pillow. Little pricey but, it can also be used as a fully locked breastfeeding pillow.

Will a ‘regular old body pillow’ work?

The answer is: maybe. This is a possibility, especially in first pregnancy stages. But if you attempt to cushion yourself with it, you will find that it lacks the necessary back support. With a ‘regular body pillow,’ you will probably turn in your sleep and roll around. If you put it in the back, then your tummy isn’t cushioned. Full support just is not going to happen.

I know a friend who bought 2 body pillows and used them in combination when she wanted to feel all snuggled in. But honestly, the unique and intentionally designed shape of a pregnancy pillow is still something worth the investment.

Wedge-Style Pregnancy Pillows

This type of body pillow is small, easy to transport, doesn’t take up too much space in the bed, and can help you with securing your tummy. Price is worth mentioning, as well. Small size equals smaller bill. Wedge style pregnancy pillows could come in handy - I often used mine for breastfeeding.

My suggestion: it is worth the small invest if you give it some good wear and tear, but don’t expect this pillow to get the job done for the whole pregnancy and full-time use. It is designed for your baby bump. I know lots of moms that like to use a combination of several pregnancy pillows and wedges. Its best to try out several for yourself.

Pros

  • Small – it definitely doesn’t take that much space.
  • Easy to use – you just…. Wedge it. Insert it below your tummy, or your knees.
  • Can be used as a nursing pillow after pregnancy - then again, you can always use real nursing pillows for that.

Cons

  • Lacks full coverage – or even semi coverage. The only coverage it provides is in the tummy area.
  • Can’t help with back pain, neck pain – and these are criminal during pregnancy. Although most manufacturers say that it can be used for the back, I find them lacking in support.

Best wedge style pregnancy pillow

Boppy Pregnancy Wedge
Best wedge style pregnancy pillow

Deciding between wedge style pillows shouldn't be very difficult. They are all extremely similar. Whichever you choose will be okay, really. I had a Boppy Pregnancy Wedge and so that is what I'm recommending.

What I've seen recommended most recently on baby bump communities

hiccapop Memory Foam Pregnancy Pillow Wedge

If you're looking for a second option, this is the one. Over the past two months I've seen "hiccapop" reviews popping up rather frequently.

Bean-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow

A bean shaped, or crescent shaped, pregnancy pillow is good for moms who just need a simple, comfortable maternity pillow. It’s good for side sleeping and provides reasonably ‘efficient’ comfort.

You can use it as a neck pillow. Push it back a bit more, and you can replace your usual pillow. I have observed that, for some reason, bean-shaped pillows are somehow thinner and less spacious than other body pillows. This unique shape is ideal for newborn feeding time, especially for moms who had a cesarean section.

Pros

  • Versatility – again me and the neck pillow thing.
  • High comfort for side sleeping – which pregnancy pillow should be all about.
  • Good for later use – breastfeeding your little one.

Cons

  • It’s not long enough. I always feel like a part of it is missing.
  • Price – When comparing different pillows, you’ll have to decide if it is worth it.
Best bean-shaped pregnancy pillow out there
Boppy Pregnancy Support Pillow
Best bean-shaped pregnancy pillow out there

Shaped Maternity Pillows

Here’s where maternity pillows get unnecessarily complicated. Designers just love changing up the names of shapes and creating novel designs.

Various types of shapes:

There are many other shapes of maternity pillows, C-shaped, L-shaped, V-shaped, pillows that resemble number 8, and many, many more. The “many, many more” are just confusing and are nothing more than small variations to the already presented shapes.

Below is an example of a V-shaped pregnancy/nursing pillow. These pillows are excellent for helping mom sleep, placing between legs to support the pelvis, supporting the bump, supporting mom on the sofa, protecting a newborn from sudden moves, and supporting the baby during nursing.

V-shaped maternity pillow

Our review: The Best Pregnancy Pillow

Que Drumroll… The winner is… The U-shaped Back ‘N Belly pregnancy pillow!

Well, actually, nothing beats the model I have. It’s called Jason, and he is the only reason I made it through three pregnancies (love you, honey!).

My wife got one and I hate it. I call it the Husband Replacement Antisnuggle Device.

— ElectricNed [source]

After doing additional research after testing out multiple models myself, the best maternity pillow is the U-shaped Back ‘N Belly pregnancy pillow. This pregnancy pillow entirely envelops your body so that you are relaxed and secure. I felt like I was sleeping on a fluffy cloud, and that is exactly how you want to feel during your pregnancy. And, how you deserve to feel.

Yes, it’s big, but in the last trimester, it will be almost impossible to live without it. My second pregnancy was a risky one, so I was advised to rest a lot, and this pillow is still the best choice out there.

Got twins? If you know that you are carrying twins, don’t think twice, you must get a pillow with this level of support. Twins will cause so much additional pressure on your muscles, joints, belly and back.

Runner Up: Queen Rose U-Shaped Pillow
Runner Up: Queen Rose U-Shaped Pillow

Pros:

  • You can flip from side to side without dragging the pillow with you.
  • Probably the fluffiest of all.
  • Really helps with back pain.

Cons:

  • No neck support.
  • If you want a firm pillow, it isn't the best choice.

Ultimately, the best pregnancy pillow for your needs will transition you from feeling like:

Sleepless night without a maternity pillow

To being just as content and comfortable as these polar bears:

very comfortable sleeping polar bear mommy

The Best Pregnancy Pillow for Stomach Sleepers

To sleep on your stomach, you're going to have three options.

  1. Buy a huge expensive contraption.
  2. Modify a long body pillow for your needs.
  3. Blow up beach tube life hack.

Using a Long Body Pillow

Most stomach-sleeping moms won't find a way to stomach sleep. The solution is to purchase a long body pillow and push it firmly against your stomach while you sleep on your side. Lean into the pillow. This should create pressure that feels quite similar to sleeping on your stomach.

It will take some getting used to, but its the best solution I've heard.

Beach tube life hack

Using a beach tube for sleeping on your stomach while pregnant

I've seen this on Facebook, but never personally tried it. From the research I've done, this really is not the best way to get relief. It is a cool idea, and definitely a life hack, but I'll let my Facebook friends mess around with that nonsense, and keep my heavenly pillow.

How Could You Forget About the Snoogle?

The Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow probably has the best name recognition of any brand. So why isn't it my #1 pick?

  • Lots of people report that they never get the "hang of it."
  • The people that like it only used it (or start liking it) in the 3rd trimester.
  • You're probably better off with a U-shaped pillow. I see countless reports of moms with Snoogles wishing they purchased a U-shaped pillow.
  • It really kills a lot of space.
  • There are reports that the pillow flattens significantly after a few weeks of use.

The Snoogle Pros

  • I have seen reports that the Snoogle works really well for hip pain.
  • Keep in mind, the Snoogle is designed to keep you aligned.
  • You should also consider the mini Snoogle as a very versatile pillow.
  • If you don't love it, your dog certainly will!

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About Cristina Staten

Cristina loves writing about travel, mothering, teaching, history, and lifestyle. She is a self-professed geek/techie with a B.A. in Linguistics. She has spent the last few years freelance tutoring.