“Are you sure you want to take a flight?”
“Should you be drinking that coffee?”
Unsolicited advice is something that most pregnant women get a lot of. What they don’t usually get enough of is… sleep! Enter the maternity pillow.
This glorious piece of pregnancy paraphernalia is intended to sling around your back or belly, through your legs, under your head and into your heart. I personally slept without one for too long into my first trimester (since I should have been sleeping with it from the start). If you’re dealing with any amount of heartburn or pain in the back or hips, this will truly help get you a restful night sleep. It also inadvertently acts as a blockade between you and your partner, just in case you need a little space — an added perk.
Whether you’re attempting to sleep on your backside, leftside, rightside, or whatever side will let your maternity body get some rest without having to toss and turn, these pillows are designed to keep you comfortable — or, as comfortable as you can be with something that feels like a bowling ball growing inside you.
Leachco’s Snoogle Total Body Pillow is very popular. I heard about this pillow before I was even pregnant, probably in part due to its wide availability (Target, Walmart, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Amazon…) and in part due to its funny name. I didn’t end up going with this pillow, since I thought something that was open at the bottom was my best option (more on this later), but from a functional perspective the shape of this does seem appealing, especially for side sleepers. Generally, doctors do say sleeping on your left side is the best option for getting oxygen to the baby. It’s also contoured to most body shapes and with it’s all-encompassing size, it really is quite supportive. The pillow cover is removable and machine washable, which is key, since you’ll want to lay your head directly on it. It’s a bit bulky, as are most, but this one’s firmness and form keep it’s shape nicely. If you’re looking for something that feels similar to sleeping in a nest, this one’s for you.
The All Nighter Total Body Pillow, also by Leachco, is a bit more “customizable” if you will, than its company counterpart, the Snoogle pregnancy pillow. With less firmness and more flexibility, this pillow can be pulled up to rest between your knees, and can also function as a belly wedge pillow a bit more easily than The Snoogle. It is touted that the All Nighter was specifically “designed by a registered nurse primarily to meet the needs of the expectant mother, but considering the reviews we have received about this phenomenal pillow, we just say it's for everyone,” which could make this a great buy for those looking to use this as a general body support pillow long after giving birth, especially for anyone who experiences back and body pain outside of pregnancy.
Most new moms or moms-to-be who have perused a baby store have heard of Boppy. Most popular for their nursing pillows, they are also providers of a pregnancy pillow with a similar shape to The Snoogle. The Boppy, however, has a few differences. With a more open design, it seems to have less back support. It does have a slimmer middle though, making it more flexible. By positioning the pillow behind your back, while sitting up, the lower half can be situated across the lap. This could make it extra functional for those who are hoping to use it after giving birth for supporting a baby, reading a book, or as a nursing pillow. I’m all about multi-functional maternity purchases, so anything that has a long lasting appeal gets an extra star in my book.
Another solid offering is the Leachco Back ‘N Belly. Designed specifically for the expectant mother with aching back complaints, the pillow’s inner contours are designed to provide the maximum amount of support for both the belly and back simultaneously. As an added bonus, this u-shaped pillow also elevates and aligns the hips to prevent strain on those poor, ache-y joints of yours, and its snug fit will ensure there’s no chance of you rolling onto your back in the middle of the night. One mom wrote in her Amazon review that she even enjoyed using this multi-purpose pillow in lieu of a desk during the later months of her pregnancy, when sitting your maternity body upright in a chair gets to be a bit much. Plus, the pillowcase is removable and machine washable; however, it fits so snugly around the pillow that your mobility-limited self might need some help getting it off and on!
This was my personal choice for getting a restful night sleep during my pregnancy. I did a moderate amount of research when figuring out what I needed, and determined that something all encompassing with lots of flexibility seemed like the most appealing option. I wanted to be able to scrunch and tuck my pillow since I do that with my regular one, and this pillow fit the bill. It also has a lower price point than most of the other pillows I found at the time, although as a whole, it looks like most are now more affordable than they were over a year ago. The one downside is that this pillow is huge! I sleep in a king-size bed, so for me it wasn’t an issue, but if you are looking for a more tailored body support pillow, you may want to make a different choice. I also carried extremely high, and needed to sleep propped up much of the time since I couldn’t breathe well on my sides later in my pregnancy. This pillow was great for that. It’s open at the bottom, so when i did sleep on my side I was able to flip from one side to another. I’ve since lent it out to friends and family, and have not received any complaints.
If you’re sleeping in a small to mid-sized bed, a more compact maternity pillow may be right for you. The Preggle Comfort Air-Flow Body Pillow touts a smaller size, with the ability to target specific areas of the body as your pregnancy progresses. Need extra neck support, but nothing between your knees? Check. Miss your old pillow but still need belly support? It’s got that covered. For a smaller size than the others, I wanted the price point to be a bit lower, but it has great reviews and also appears to facilitate great airflow, so for those who are warm sleepers, this could be the perfect fit.
The Jill & Joey Pregnancy Pillow Wedge, which you can buy on Amazon, is a top pick. You can place it under your belly, under your head or neck, or even between your legs. The zipper is placed on the side on purpose so it won't poke you in the stomach. It's made of high-quality foam to keep you comfortable, and it comes with a free travel bag, too.
And the one that you shouldn't buy...
As an expectant mother, your pregnancy body needs support in some pretty specific, targeted ways. This pillow ain’t it. That’s not necessarily the fault of the manufacturer, however; the Comfort-U pillow wasn’t actually designed to be a pregnancy pillow, and it isn’t advertised as such. A u-shaped pillow can offer loads of health benefits to those who aren’t pregnant, too, and are commonly used by people with regular body pain (especially in the back and hips), arthritis, carpal tunnel, and poor circulation, to name just a few typical ailments this pillow is designed to alleviate. One ailment it won’t help, due to a lack in firmness? Pregnancy/maternity pains, even though the Comfort-U pillow commonly populates amongst maternity pillow lists and searches. Take our word on this one.
The Verdict: There are many great options for help sleeping through the night sans the toss and turn as an expectant mother. Leachco looks to have the largest variety of pillows (including many not mentioned in this article), but Boppy and Lavish Home are solid contenders, too. What it comes down to — as with anything in pregnancy and parenthood — is that you have to do what’s right for you. My best piece of advice is to figure out what you like most in a regular pillow and let that guide you and your pregnancy body in your choice. Sweet dreams!
Katie Klein is a blogger, former magazine editor, and ecommerce director. She’s passionate about supporting working moms (because she is one!) and navigating unusual career trajectories (because she’s had one!). She also loves funky shoes, flea market finds, and female empowerment. You can find her at her blog, overlyambitious.com.