I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it a billion times: pregnant folks are sages. Something about growing life from scratch fills the mind with Jedi Master levels of wisdom. We as a society would do well to heed their guidance. They are pioneers! Eating for two? Why yes, I do deserve a second slice of pizza. Did anyone else consider using their belly as a table? Now we all do it, especially in summer. But chief among the gestational innovations is easily the pregnancy pillow–and it’s not just for walking baby factories.
What is a pregnancy pillow?
When you’re growing a human baby inside of you, many things most people do easily suddenly become Herculean tasks. Sleeping is chief among them. After all, there are only so many safe sleeping positions for both mother and baby.
Doctors recommend expectant parents sleep on their side. This is easier said than done of course. The secret weapon to getting some shut-eye with a baby inside you is a pregnancy pillow. A parent-to-be can use it so they can sleep on their side. It provides support to different parts of their bodies: the back, knees, and even belly so they can get a full night’s sleep. It even helps prevent all those aches and pains associated with pregnancy come morning. My editor Christine Burkson used one during her pregnancy and sings its praises.
“If it wasn’t for this pillow, I’d be a husk, a mere desiccated insect of a woman,” she says. “With it, I am strong, I am powerful. My fist can tear through stone, and I can roast a cornish game hen with the sheer aura of my radiance.”*
*(Note from the editor: I…did not say that. But he is also not wrong, so this quote can remain in the article.)
But here’s the thing: you don’t need to be pregnant to own a pregnancy pillow. Anyone can buy one, even if you’re not trying to start a family.
What is the best pregnancy pillow?
While pillow material and size can vary, pregnancy pillows break down into two different styles.
- U Shape: these pillows are shaped like a “U”, letting you cradle yourself easily. My favorite models taper in the center, which helps you relax while sitting up in bed or on a couch.
- C shape: more or less shaped like a “C”, I find these resemble snakes. Instead of cradling you, these are built to wrap around your body. They’re not as sturdy as the U shape, but offer more possibilities and positions.
- H shape: While not as popular, the third style still has its uses. It’s basically half a U shape pillow with a second smaller pillow connected to it via strap. The second pillow is built for providing comfort to the belly, making it the most pregnancy pillow of pregnancy pillows.
Why use a pregnancy pillow?
Pregnancy pillows aren’t for everyone. Some people don’t want their gibbon-like bodies cradled in a warm pile of brioche dough. That’s the feeling I get when I sleep with a pregnancy pillow. Without one, I might as well be a cave-dweller, living off forest rodents and being afraid of the sun. My partner bought one and after I fell in love with softness, they bought one just for me. My partner uses the C shape, I’m partial to the U. We each nestle in our own pillow, though the queen size mattress is a little cramped now. I’d bet my left eye it’s the coziest bed this side of the Mississippi.
How to use a pregnancy pillow
Because I am not and have never been pregnant, I can utilize a pregnancy pillow with a near infinite amount of configurations. Here are a few of my favorite positions.
- Venus in Repose: The goddess of love is perhaps most known for emerging from seashells in the middle of who knows where. I lay the U pillow flat on the bed, nest a pillow in the center, lay on my back, and cross my arms over my chest like I’m at my own funeral. The peace I emanate is graceful, not unlike the seaborn deity.
- Picard on Deck: When Captain Picard is in the captain’s chair on the Enterprise, the man is all business. When I’m in bed and not sleeping, I push the center of my pillow against the headboard to sit up comfortably. I’m so cozy that it makes gaming, watching TV, and eating a bowl of jalapeno kettle chips feel like a feel-good adventure. Like that episode where Data became a cowboy.
- The Yoko: When I sleep on my side, I like to clutch the side of my pillow, the way John Lennon clutched his wife Yoko in the legendary Annie Leibowitz photo. I should note that this position usually renders some pretty weird dreams. I won’t be digging too deep into that though.
- Angsty Jigglypuff: Do Pokemon experience teenage angst? Do they listen to Linkin Park while they lay face down on a mattress? I live a charmed life so when I sleep on my stomach, face buried into the center of my pregnancy pillow. There is zero hormonal anxiety coursing through my blood. But even if there was, I’d be as cozy as a Fairy-type Poke’ Diva.
These are just a few ways you can mold a pillow around your body. Us non-pregnant folk have a little more liberty when it comes to sleeping positions so the sky’s the limit here.
Pregnancy Pillow Review: The Verdict
Sleep is a problem many folks struggle with. The CDC reports that up to one in three Americans have issues going to sleep and staying asleep. I’m not a doctor, nor am I qualified to give medical advice. What I can say is that sleeping with a pregnancy pillow has been revelatory.
The funny thing is, it doesn’t matter how I sleep with a pregnancy pillow, so long as I sleep with one. I’ve upgraded to softer pillows before. And once I moved in with my partner, we splurged on an expensive mattress. But the improvements in sleep with those past purchases pale in comparison with the swaddling peace the pregnancy pillow brings every night. And best of all, even the higher end models won’t run you more than $50.
I’m not saying that sleeping with a pregnancy pillow will improve your sleeping. But I am saying it certainly couldn’t hurt. Here are three selections, one for every style.
C shape: Snoogle, The OG Pregnancy Pillow
Developed by a registered nurse and mother, this is one of the pregnancy pillows folks ask for by name. It’s a sturdy offering in the C shape class that cools while it offers comfort.
U Shape: Queen Rose, Velvety Comfort
Remember how George Costanza would always tell people he would drape himself in velvet if it were socially acceptable? I couldn’t agree more. This is the pillow I sleep on every night, and on especially lazy weekends, I even drag it into the living room to use on the couch. It’s lined in velvet, which is as fancy as it is cozy.
H Shape: Insen Pillow
Sure, it’s easily the strangest offering in the bunch, but maybe you’re after that. This pillow is made from breathable material, and lined in velour so it will feel even fancier than the velvet (though it may lack some of velvet’s natural cooling properties). Still, one of the best and most affordable offerings in the bunch.