How To Use A Pregnancy Pillow To Get Better Sleep

Woman sleeping with a pregnancy pillow

With the changes your body’s going through, it’s no wonder that sleeping is more difficult these days. Between increased stress and a growing belly, sleep issues are common during pregnancy. Thankfully, learning how to use a pregnancy pillow can help you get a good night’s sleep.

In this article, we’ll walk you through what a pregnancy pillow is and how to use one. You’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time!

Table Of Contents

How Pregnancy Affects Sleep

how to use pregnancy pillow

With a little one growing inside you, it can be hard to settle down for the night. Worry and anxiety can make you restless, and the physical changes your body is experiencing can get in the way of a restful evening.

You’re not alone. It’s believed that at least 50% of pregnant women suffer from insomnia, something that is less than ideal for both parent and baby. Although it’s recommended that adults get 7-8 hours of sleep, if you’re pregnant, aim higher.

There are several reasons why sleep proves so elusive when you’re pregnant. Here are a few things that might be doing a number on your slumber.

Changes In Hormones

Your changing hormones are one reason why it’s hard for you to get that much-needed shuteye.

In the first trimester, levels of progesterone are on the rise, as is your metabolism. This can make you feel more tired than usual. Remember, naps are OK!

Physical Discomfort

When you’re pregnant, it can be difficult to find a comfortable position in bed, especially if you are a stomach sleeper. You may find yourself waking up in the middle of the night to turn over, something that can grow to be a bit more cumbersome as your pregnancy progresses.

In addition, you can be stirred awake thanks to leg cramps brought on by a lack of minerals or restless leg syndrome. Not surprisingly, you may also feel the need to go to the loo more frequently thanks to baby pushing down on your bladder.

Increased Heartburn

You’re also going to want to eat way before bedtime when you’re pregnant (and ixnay on the rich or spicy foods). Digestion slows down, and heartburn symptoms (and constipation) increase, especially later in your pregnancy.

Whether your lack of sleep is due to hormones, heartburn, or discomfort (or a combination of the three), it’s important to know that sleep is crucial for a healthy pregnancy. Therefore, taking steps to improve your sleep will be the best thing for both you and your baby.

What Is A Pregnancy Pillow?

A good pregnancy pillow can go a long way to getting you the zzzs you need. We know, you already have plenty of pillows on your bed. But if you’re pregnant, you’re going to want one more.

Pregnancy pillows vary in shape and size. At first blush, it might sound like alphabet soup: They come in C-shape, J-shape, or U-shape pillows. But, no matter the letter, pregnancy pillows aim to do one thing: reduce discomfort so you can sleep more comfortably.

If you have the space, the U-shaped pillow is ideal, as it can support your entire body from your head to your toes. It’s the largest of the options and generally the most expensive but may be well worth its price tag in comfortable sleep.

Specially designed to follow the contours of your changing body, your U-shaped pregnancy pillow can be positioned to align your spine and take pressure off your hips, back, and belly. Unlike J- and C-shaped pillows, with the U-shaped, you can turn over without repositioning.

J-shaped and C-shaped pillows, on the other hand, are simply smaller than U-shaped pillows. Instead of cradling your whole body, you can use them to support your front or back — but not both at once. The good news is that they take up less room on the bed and are easier on the wallet.

Ready to choose the pregnancy pillow right for you? Take a look at our buying guide for tips on how to do it.

Sleeping Positions While Pregnant: Dos And Don’ts

how to use pregnancy pillow

Whichever pillow you choose, it’s important to know the dos and don’ts when it comes to sleeping positions. Let’s start with the don'ts.

Sleeping Position Don’ts

Sorry back sleepers: This is not an ideal position for pregnancy. Sleeping on your back can cause backache and put pressure on your vena cava (a large central vein that carries deoxygenated blood into your heart).

Additionally, for those who prefer to sleep on their stomach, it’s time for a nine-month hiatus (it won’t be very comfortable anyway, for obvious reasons).

Sleeping Position Dos

The best sleeping position during pregnancy is side-sleeping on your left side with your legs curled under. According to the Sleep Foundation, this position allows blood to flow to your heart, kidneys, and uterus, making it easier to give your baby the necessary nutrients.

If you can’t do the left side, flip over to the right — it’s not quite as preferred, but it is still a good option.

How To Use A Pregnancy Pillow While Pregnant

Now that you know what a pregnancy pillow is, as well as the ideal sleep position, let’s cover how to use a pregnancy pillow.

Although your partner might give your new pillow the side-eye, remind them that it’s helping both you and your baby get the rest that you need.

There are lots of ways to use the pillow and, as we mentioned, several different types. We’ll start with the U-shaped pillow, as it will give you full 360-degree support.

A common way to position yourself with a U-shaped pillow is this: When sleeping on your side, wrap the pillow around you, resting your head on it. This way, the pillow supports both your bump and your back. Tuck the pillow between your knees to keep your back in alignment.

If you have a J- or C-shaped pillow, focus on the area in which you most need support, running it down your front and supporting your bump or down your back with the curve of the pillow between your knees.

Mom reading with laying on a pregnancy pillow

Need some other ideas on how to use a pregnancy pillow? Here are a few more of our favorite ways to use these ever-so-helpful pillows:

  • If you’re resting while sitting up in bed, run the pillow under your bump and around your back. This takes the pressure of your growing belly off your back.
  • Use it to prop yourself up to read in bed.
  • If you’re lying on your back, place the pillow under your knees to reduce pressure on your spine.
  • If you’re suffering from pregnancy-related heartburn, place the pillow under your head so that your head is raised at a slight angle. This can reduce heartburn.

How To Use A Pregnancy Pillow After Baby’s Born

Baby sleeping on back with pacifier

After your baby’s born, it can be even harder to get a good night’s sleep. Before thinking about your own sleep, though, it’s wise to think about your baby’s sleep, as these are inextricably related.

It goes without saying that when their sleep regresses, so will yours.

Here are a few things to help with baby’s sleep:

  1. Take a look at their room. You’ll want to make sure it’s a sleep-friendly environment. Make the room dark, and consider a white noise machine.
  2. In addition, whether your baby is in a bassinet or crib, a good breathable mattress will help your little one sleep. The Newton Baby breathable mattresses are temperature regulating, meaning your baby is less likely to wake up at night because they’re too hot.
  3. Make sure your baby is swaddled snugly. This will help prevent the Moro reflex from startling them awake.
  4. Also, it’s good to put your baby into their bed when they are drowsy but not already sleeping.

Once your little one’s sleeping soundly, it’s time to focus on you. It’s good to know how to use a pregnancy pillow postpartum, as it can come in handy to help you sleep. The pillow can relieve pressure or pain that may come with your new routine of bending, carrying, and lifting your baby.

Just as you did while pregnant, position the pillow to support your back, hips, or belly as needed. It’s as easy as that!

In addition to helping you sleep, a pregnancy pillow can also help with breastfeeding. Curve the pillow around your middle and position the baby safely and comfortably.

Better Sleep While Pregnant

Pregnant woman sleeping on side with out pregnancy pillow

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for a healthy pregnancy, and knowing how to use a pregnancy pillow can be the key to a more restful night.

Wedge the pillow under your bump, back, or both as you sleep, or wrap it around you for reading or resting. You can even use it for breastfeeding.

At Newton Baby, we developed our Pregnancy Pillow to do it all thanks to its detachable extension (meaning it can be a U-shape, C-shape, or J-shape). It’s also 100% breathable with a supportive memory foam fiber cluster fill and has a cooling organic cotton surface.

We are happy to say that with our pregnancy pillow, sleep is within reach. Now all you have to do is position your pillow and close your eyes. Sweet dreams await!

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