The Best Pregnancy Pillows, Tested by HGTV Editors
Our experienced moms and editors share the pregnancy pillows they recommend for expecting moms.
Our Top Pregnancy Pillow Picks
Pregnancy is a journey. From the initial high when you get a positive test result to the wave of lows caused by sickness, fatigue and hormonal fluctuations, there are so many changes in such a short amount of time (that also somehow feels like an eternity?) that it's no wonder pregnant women are emotional and uncomfortable. Anything that will make life easier during these unpredictable nine months is more than welcome.
But, if you're feeling overwhelmed by the oversaturated market of mom-to-be products, let me first say that less is best. After three pregnancies, I've developed some opinions on baby and pregnancy products, and, quite honestly, most of it is fluff. I didn't use a pregnancy pillow in my first two pregnancies, but after testing multiple styles for the third go-round, I'm eager to share my thoughts with other expecting mamas who may be wondering what they actually need and, also, which products are the best.
Do You Need a Pregnancy Pillow?
No, not necessarily. In fact, a normal body pillow or bed pillow will work just fine. However, the benefit of using a pregnancy pillow is that most are contoured to fit perfectly around your growing bump and offer relief from common pregnancy symptoms like low back pain and swelling. Most pregnancy pillows also fit around your entire body so you don't have to fumble with multiple pillows during the night. If you decide to sleep with a pregnancy pillow, you likely won't need one until the late second trimester or third trimester when your bump really gets bigger, causing more discomfort.
The biggest argument you'll hear in favor of pregnancy pillows is that they keep you positioned on either your left (preferred) or right side while sleeping. Around 20 weeks, your doctor may recommend that you start side-sleeping exclusively to keep blood flowing unobstructed to the uterus. Laying on your back for an extended period of time puts you and the baby at risk of compressed blood flow. However, research is inconclusive on whether or not sleeping positions actually cause serious harm, so just follow your doctor's recommendation.
Types of Pregnancy Pillows
- Wedge: A small, firm half-moon-shaped pillow that slides under your bump or behind your back for extra support. These pillows don't take up much room and can be used while sleeping or sitting.
- Full-Body, U-Shaped or C-Shaped Pillows: Large tubular pillows that envelop your whole body and feature a contoured shape to support your legs, low back and stomach. These pillows are very bulky in bed but can provide great relief from low back pain and swelling in the legs and/or feet.
- Specialty Pillows: Designed to relieve discomfort in targeted areas instead of all over, like the Boppy Side Sleeper Pillow or Cuddle. These are more compact and versatile but may need more frequent adjusting while sleeping or lounging.
Really, the decision to use a pregnancy pillow or not comes down to your own personal situation. Are you tossing and turning all night trying to find a suitable position? Do you suffer from low back pain or insomnia? Do you need support for your bump, legs or both? Are you willing to splurge a little for a specialty pillow to relieve temporary discomfort? Below, my fellow editors and I share thoughts and recommendations for the best pregnancy pillows that saw us through the most uncomfortable times.
At just under $50, this pillow is affordable but not cheap. If you're looking for something with contoured, full-body support, then this is the best buy for your money. It had a lower profile than others I tested and kept its shape throughout my multi-night testing period. And with more than 14,000 ratings on Amazon, it's certainly a popular, reliable pick. While I wasn't particularly fond of most of the pillows I tested, this was the one that I actually could tolerate. It's a bit shorter than some of the other full-body pillows so it wasn't as cumbersome, plus it has an organic cotton cover, which is important to me. (I get hot during the night, so anything made from velvet or satin was off-limits.) I felt perfectly cocooned and supported and appreciated the relief I felt from persistent low back pain. For someone in their first or even second trimester, I think this pillow would be a bit much, but once you really start experiencing those uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms like swelling and achiness, it really comes in clutch. A few downsides to note: I had to put on the cover myself, and I noticed a tear in the cover seam after just one night. Both were minor annoyances but not deal-breakers.
This was my second favorite pillow after the INSEN. I loved how soft the organic cotton cover was. It was plush without being overstuffed and bulky. The CeeCee felt much higher-quality than the less-than-$50 price tag would suggest. And, depending on which color you choose, you can even snag this low-back-pain-saver for less than $40! Like my co-worker mentions below, I also liked using this to prop up on the couch and elevate my feet to reduce swelling. It's pretty big and therefore takes up a lot of space in the bed, but if you like feeling safe, snuggled and secure all night, I definitely recommend this one (along with 50,000 other Amazon reviewers).
From Managing Editor, Kayla Kitts: At the beginning of my third trimester, I was experiencing a lot of insomnia, back pain and sciatic nerve pain. I couldn't sleep on my back. I couldn't sleep on my side. I just couldn't sleep. This C-shaped body pillow helped relieve some of my pain and helped me sleep comfortably — for once! It wasn't just good for the bed either. I would pretzel the pillow into a supportive seat while watching TV on the sofa, too. It takes up quite a bit of room in bed (the longest side is almost five feet long), but it's worth it for the support and comfort you get.
From Assistant Editor, Ellie Sanders: Overall, I would rate this pillow 9/10. It was incredibly supportive and didn't force me to use five pillows to be comfortable at night or when I used it a few times while watching TV. It doesn't get super hot, which I found surprising due to the size and the material (jersey). I think the only downside for me was the size. It is large, and if I didn't have a king-size bed, I can't imagine fitting my pregnant self, this pillow and my husband and his pillows in the bed. Besides that, I will say that I used this until about halfway through my third trimester because it started making me feel really claustrophobic, but also — what didn't at that point?
I found this pillow to be way too bulky for the bed, but it was amazing for relaxing on the couch. I loved how supportive this pillow was for watching TV or reading. In the third trimester, I was never able to get comfortable sitting down, but the Leachco just curled around me, propping me up in all the right places. It even came with a handy visual guide of different configurations you can try for back or leg support. This pillow is relatively expensive, though, and may only be worth the splurge if you plan on having multiple pregnancies or experience a lot of discomfort in your low back or from swelling.
If you're strictly looking for something to elevate your legs and keep your spine aligned to relieve low back pain, this relatively smaller support pillow works pretty well. The top half was a bit too plush for me. It felt awkward and bulky around my belly, but I liked using most of the pillow between my legs to help with low back pain. At just $40, it's not a major splurge, either, and it's small enough to travel with or even use as a nursing pillow once baby arrives. Like the rest of the pillows we recommended, the cover is washable. The best part about this pillow, though, is its size. If you're looking for something supportive and not overly bulky or expensive for third trimester discomfort, this is a solid pick.
I'm glad that I tried a few different styles of pillows to figure out what worked and didn't work for me. If I'd never tried a pregnancy pillow, I'd always wonder if using one would have helped. So, if you're on the fence, I recommend getting one to try out.
My one, pretty big complaint about all of the full-body pregnancy pillows I tried, though, is that crawling over these pillows in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom is an absolute chore. It's hard enough to get up from a seated or reclined position when you're extremely pregnant, so fumbling my way over a large, tube-shaped pillow in the middle of the night posed a significant hurdle. I also didn't love how much room these pillows took up in the bed. I flip from my right to left side pretty frequently, which meant that I also had to readjust my legs on the lower half of the pillow so they fit around the pillow comfortably — a bit disruptive to my sleep cycle. And I missed spontaneous snuggles with my husband, who felt very distant from me while I was wrapped around a pregnancy pillow.
Another thing to consider about these full-body pillows is that you can't use your regular pillow. So, if you, like me, are very fond of your high-quality, supportive bed pillow, replacing it temporarily with a cheap poly-fill cushion will be an adjustment. I woke up with neck stiffness a few times during my testing period. For all of the previously mentioned reasons, I don't think I'll be using these full-body-style pillows going forward. I thought something smaller, like a wedge pillow, would better suit me, but in my experience, those aren't even worth fooling with since they didn't stay in place and were very firm against my stomach.
In conclusion, I'd say if you're searching for something, anything to help you sleep better at night and alleviate pain and discomfort from carrying a baby, then it's worth trying a pregnancy pillow. Sure, they're bulky, a bit overpriced and awkward, but those features are small prices to pay when sleep is elusive and your back is throbbing.