Why a body pillow is a pregnant person’s best friend
By Cradlewise Staff
Why a body pillow is a pregnant person’s best friend
By Cradlewise Staff
If you’re pregnant, you may have discovered by now that every day brings something new and often unexpected. The experience of growing another human body (or two!) means that your own body is often affected in surprising ways.
And the best solution to staying comfortable, especially as your stomach grows and your sleep starts to become impacted? A pregnancy body pillow. This article will provide more information on how to use a pregnancy pillow, how pregnancy pillows work, and when to start using a pregnancy pillow.
What are the common challenges of pregnancy?
A 2021 study found that the most common physical symptoms in pregnant people are lower back pain, fatigue, and sleep issues.
Pregnancy can also cause a wide range of physical discomfort such as hip pain from the growing baby, swelling from increased blood and fluid volume, and even muscle spasms.
Those aches and pains—and the fact that nighttime urination often increases—can severely impact a pregnant person’s ability to sleep. And because quality sleep is critical to health, as well as an important way to ward off the risk of postpartum depression, finding ways to stay comfortable during pregnancy is key.
What’s a pregnancy body pillow?
The Sleep Foundation explains that a pregnancy body pillow is designed specifically to support a pregnant body during sleep and rest. Unlike a regular pillow, which is usually designed just to support and cradle the head and neck, a pregnancy body pillow supports the entire body.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends side-sleeping for pregnant people because it avoids putting pressure on blood vessels that carry important oxygen and nutrients to the baby, so most pregnancy body pillows are designed to help a pregnant person sleep on their side.
A pregnancy body pillow is usually long to accommodate the full body and provides support for hips, knees, a growing abdomen, and the back.
How does a pregnancy body pillow work?
A body pillow works by providing additional support to the body, particularly in the knees, hips, back, and stomach. There’s no right or wrong way to use a pregnancy pillow, but the type of pregnancy pillow you use can determine how to best use it.
For instance, there are three most common types of pregnancy pillows:
- C-shaped pregnancy pillow: You can place the curve of the “C” underneath your stomach to support it, between your knees pointing up, or behind your back for comfort.
- U-shaped pregnancy pillow: A U-shaped pregnancy pillow is often longer than a C shape and can be used to support the entire body at once, from head and neck all the way down to hips and knees. Most often, the entire pillow is placed underneath the body, with part of “U” going between the legs.
- J-shaped pregnancy pillow: A J-shaped pregnancy pillow often supports just one side of the body and can be used to support the belly or back, along with the head, neck, and knees, or hips.
You can also combine more than one pregnancy body pillow or use a combination of shapes to find the best fit for your own body shape and size.
Benefits of using a pregnancy body pillow
The multifunctional nature of body pillows provides support to different parts of the body simultaneously, which is key to helping support a pregnant body at rest. Plus, pregnancy means your body is always changing, so a body pillow allows you to customize support where you need it the most as you approach delivery.
Everyone is different, but in general, a pregnancy body pillow could provide benefits such as:
- Spinal alignment. The ACOG notes that the growing weight of your uterus can throw you off balance. They recommend side-sleeping to keep the weight of your stomach off your back, but laying on your side can also cause a lot of pull if your stomach is large.
A pillow placed underneath your stomach and along your back can help place you in the proper alignment once again.
- Improved sleep. A 2021 study found that a pregnancy body pillow helped improve sleep in pregnant individuals, especially if side-sleeping was a new position for them.
- Reduced pressure. Using a pillow underneath your stomach and between your knees helps reduce the pressure and strain from increased size and weight on your joints as you sleep.
- Leg elevation. Pregnancy leads to an increase in your blood and fluid volume, which, along with increased pressure from your expanding uterus, can lead to leg swelling, especially if you’re on your feet a lot. Sleeping with a pillow to help keep the legs elevated can help reduce the swelling in your feet and legs.
- Relief for pelvic pain. If you are experiencing pelvic pain, or sciatic pain from nerve irritation, keeping your legs propped up and in proper alignment can help decrease pain and swelling to keep you more comfortable.
While a pregnancy body pillow might be your best friend when you’re pregnant, once you bring your baby home, Cradlewise will be your new best friend that will help support better sleep for your entire family.
Cradlewise is the world’s smartest crib for your baby. This bassinet-crib combo grows with your baby and can be used from birth to 24 months. It’s an all-in-one sleep solution that comes with a built-in monitor, sound machine, and innovative AI technology that detects your baby’s most subtle movements and cues, and customizes the soothing approach to help your baby drift back to sleep.
Tips for choosing the right pregnancy body pillow
If you can, it may be helpful to borrow a body pillow from a friend or family member to see if you like the shape and feel before purchasing. Otherwise, you may need to experiment to find a pillow that’s best for you.
In general, however, purchase a pillow that supports the specific areas you’re experiencing discomfort. For instance, if you have a lot of lower back or hip pain, buy a pillow that will support your lower back and can run the length of your legs to keep you in alignment.
All pregnant people should definitely choose a pillow that supports the abdomen, with options for more support as you grow. One easy option is to use a J-shaped pregnancy pillow on the side you sleep on, then stack regular pillows behind your back for adjustable comfort.
Last, but not least, it can be ideal to choose a hypoallergenic body pillow that comes with a washable pillow cover so you can keep it clean and use it far beyond just your pregnancy.
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Q: How does using a body pillow benefit pregnant individuals?
A: A body pillow can help pregnant individuals be more comfortable while they sleep and decrease pain caused by the weight of a growing abdomen. Additionally, because side sleeping is recommended for pregnancy, a body pillow can help someone who isn’t used to side sleeping adjust to the position.
Q: What distinguishes a body pillow from regular pillows?
A: A body pillow is usually much larger and longer than a head pillow, and provides support to various areas in the body, especially to a growing abdomen, back, and legs.
Q: Can a body pillow be used throughout all stages of pregnancy?
A: Yes, a body pillow can be used throughout your entire pregnancy. You can find that you need to change the size or shape of your pillow—or add another pregnancy pillow—as your pregnancy progresses and your shape changes.
Q: How does a body pillow help with sleep quality during pregnancy?
A: A body pillow helps decrease pain and prompts better alignment and circulation to allow for better restorative sleep during pregnancy.
Q: What are the different ways to use a body pillow during pregnancy?
A: Most often, a body pillow is used underneath a growing abdomen, behind the back and/or hips, and between the knees to keep the legs aligned.
Q: Can a body pillow help with postpartum recovery?
A: A body pillow can help with postpartum recovery, especially if someone has had a C-section or finds laying directly on the bed uncomfortable. Just be sure no body pillows are ever used around a sleeping baby.
Q: Are there specific types of body pillows recommended for pregnant individuals?
A: The U, C, or J-shaped body pillows are most often recommended for pregnancy. However, any pillow can be used to achieve better back, knee, or hip support.
Q: Can a body pillow be used for pain relief besides sleep during pregnancy?
A: Absolutely. The support that a body pillow provides for knees, hips, and back can help anyone achieve better sleep, even outside of pregnancy.
- Sleep patterns in pregnancy. 2021. NCBI. “Identifying Patterns of Symptom Distress in Pregnant Women: A Pilot Study.”
- Sleeping on back during pregnancy. 2021. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Can I sleep on my back when I’m pregnant?”
- Late pregnancy sleep position. 2021. BMJ Open. “Modification of maternal late pregnancy sleep position: a survey evaluation of a New Zealand public health campaign.”