Sleep. You never know how much you appreciate it until it’s taken away! And unfortunately pregnancy can be a time when sleep feels like an impossible goal. There’s those frequent trips to the loo, plus fluctuating hormone levels, heartburn, restless leg syndrome, stress and a growing baby changing the shape of your body.

Then you’ve got sleepless nights to think about when baby comes too. So, you really need to get some decent shut-eye when you’re pregnant. And pregnancy pillows can help. But which is the best pregnancy pillow? Let’s find out…

What is a pregnancy pillow?

Pregnancy pillows, also called maternity pillows, are a special type of pillow designed to offer support during pregnancy when you sleep or otherwise lie down.

Pregnancy pillows help cushion and hold parts of your body that regular pillows don’t, like your growing bump and your back. They come in a wide range of shapes and materials, so it’s important to spend the time to make sure you get the best pregnancy pillow for you.

Do I need a pregnancy pillow?

Some mothers-to-be sleep fine throughout their pregnancies. But many don’t. In fact, most don’t. And pregnancy is a time when you need sleep badly. Sleep helps your baby develop and helps you recover from fatigue, stress and the challenges of pregnancy. Good quality sleep keeps you healthy, and your health is vital for your baby’s health too.

There are plenty of frivolous and unnecessary pregnancy accessories out there, but pregnancy pillows are rarely one of them. If you have problems sleeping during pregnancy, a pregnancy pillow can be an absolute lifesaver. Think vital, not frivolous.

What type of pregnancy pillow are there?

Pregnancy pillows come in a wide range of shapes and styles, but most fit into the following three types:

  1. U-shape pregnancy pillows are long tubular pillows that have been bent into a tight U-shape, with a curved end, two arms, and an open end. They’re large, full body pillows that support your entire body.

You sleep in the open space between the arms of a U-shape pillow, with your head on the curved part and your feet at the open end. One arm supports your back and bum, the other supports your bump and your chest. You can wrap your arms and legs around an arm of the pillow too to find the most comfortable position.

  1. C- and G-shape pregnancy pillows are like U-shaped pillows but are curved into a C-shape or a G-shape.

They’re also full body pillows – you lie within the curve of the pillow and are supported front and back. You can sleep facing the curve or with it behind you, and you can wrap your arms and legs around the pillow to find the best position. G-shape pillows have an added curved section you can tuck-in between your thighs or rest your head on too.

  1. Wedge pregnancy pillows are different from full-body pregnancy pillows in that they’re smaller and are designed to support specific parts of your body rather than the whole of you.

You slide wedge pillows under you to help you get comfortable in bed, usually under your back, bump, head or between your legs. Some women use more than one wedge pillow at a time, and some mothers-to-be even combine them with full-body pregnancy pillows for added support.

Which pregnancy pillow is the best for me?

Thinking about a pregnancy pillow? Ask yourself:

What kind of support do you need?

If you need support in a specific area, such as under your bump, a wedged shape pregnancy pillow will be the most suitable for you. For more widespread comfort, support at both the front and back, or support for your whole body, a larger U-, C- or G-shape pillow may be a better choice.

How much space do you have?

Full-body U-, C- or G-shaped pillows are large and can take up more than half your bed. They may leave little room for your partner and can be hard to store. On the other hand, a full body pillow, offers lots of comfort. If space is tight, a smaller size pregnancy pillow, like one or more wedge pillows, may be a better option than a full-body pillow.

How much do you roll over in bed?

If you frequently roll over in bed and change position at night, a U-shaped pregnancy pillow may be a better option than C-shaped or G-shaped pillows. U-shaped pillows are the same shape front and back, whereas you may need to flip a C- or G-shaped pillow over to get back into the same comfortable position when you roll over onto your other side.

How firm do you like your pillow and mattress?

Pregnancy pillows often state how hard or soft they are and the materials they’re made from. If you’re used to sleeping on a soft pillow, opt for a pregnancy pillow made from softer materials. If you prefer a firmer pillow, go for denser materials like a memory foam pregnancy pillow.

How easy is a pregnancy pillow to wash?

We recommend you look for a pregnancy pillow with a removable, machine-washable cover as they’re the easiest to keep clean and fresh.

What material is a pregnancy pillow made from?

You should consider pregnancy pillows made from breathable materials, not synthetics. These will keep you cooler at night and won’t make you sweaty, even if they wrap around you front and back.

Do you or your partner have any allergies?

You can buy hypoallergenic pregnancy pillows if either of you have any allergies that may be triggered by a conventional pillow.

Does it look comfy?

Finally, do you have a good feeling about the pregnancy pillow you’re considering? Do you like the look of it? Are you happy with the colour, shape and feel of it? You’ll likely spend a lot of time with your pregnancy pillow, and we want you to have one you love. A pregnancy pillow is an item to enjoy and luxuriate in, not to have any doubts or frustrations with.

More advice on sleep and pregnancy

A pregnancy pillow can be a huge help when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep during pregnancy. But they are just one useful tool to help you sleep better. The NHS has compiled a guide to sleeping during pregnancy that covers some of the most frequently asked questions about sleep and pregnancy.

If you have any concerns about pregnancy or sleep, or are experiencing any problems, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or midwife too.