Sleep can be difficult to come by when you’re pregnant. And yet, adequate sleep is important for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. How do expecting mothers reconcile this dilemma?
There are a handful of things you can do to combat sleeplessness during pregnancy. You could implement a good bedtime routine, take a warm bath, engage in physical activity during the day, keep your bedroom cool, and choose a comfortable mattress. And, of course, getting some extra support from a pregnancy pillow can be a game-changer in terms of sleep during pregnancy.
What is a Pregnancy Pillow?
A pregnancy pillow is a pillow designed specifically to support a pregnant body in sleep. The strain of extra weight and a growing belly can place strain on a woman’s back and joints, especially the hips, knees, and ankles. This strain can add to the difficulty of sleep during pregnancy. But a pregnancy pillow adds support in all the right places so you can stay comfortable throughout the night – and finally get some of those elusive snoozes in.
How We Chose the Best Pregnancy Pillow for Hip Pain
We selected this list of pregnancy pillows based on extensive research of medically reviewed sources and consumer reviews. All of these products were highly recommended, with a diversity of shapes, styles, and materials included for you to choose from.
All products listed here include important features for a quality pregnancy pillow, including capabilities to support hips, belly, back, knees, or even ankles. They are all reasonably priced (without sacrificing quality) and versatile to support multiple parts of your body (some all at the same time, others just one at a time). They also can all adjust and adapt support, so they can grow with you during your pregnancy.
Of course, for the sake of this article, the focus of our pillow selection is specific to products that provide adequate relief from hip pain during pregnancy. But all products are capable of relieving pressure in other areas, as well.
The 5 Best Pregnancy Pillows for Hip Pain
Below, you’ll find our top 5 picks for pregnancy pillows that relieve hip pain. The list begins with our favorite and works its way down, but all products are high quality, comfortable, and supportive to improve sleep for pregnant women.
Body Nest Pregnancy Pillow
As Body Nest affirms, this pregnancy pillow is “Designed by mothers, for mothers.” Constructed in a U-shape, this pillow contours to all sides of your body, providing plenty of support and comfort. It comes overstuffed for a soft firmness but features an internal zipper that allowing you to adjust the pillow to your desired fill level.
Body Nest’s reversible cover sets this pillow part. It’s the only pregnancy pillow on the market with such a cover, and pregnant mothers love the flexibility this offers. One side is a minky soft fabric for cooler months, and the other is a breathable cotton jersey for the summer that’s designed to wick moisture away from the body and keep you cool through the entire night – and we all know how difficult that can be during pregnancy!
The cover is fully machine-washable, making it ultra-convenient for busy, tired moms. The cover and pillow are both made of durable material with reinforced, double-stitching. You can rest assured your pillow will not only adapt to support your growing body for 9 months, but will last far beyond the season of pregnancy.
This pillow can also be fun because of just how versatile it is. Though excellent for use during pregnancy sleep, it can also be used by husbands for naps, because it’s just that comfortable! It’s also excellent for surgery recovery or people with back or joint problems. You can also configure it to support you while you sit up and lounge or nurse your baby. This makes the Body Nest pregnancy pillow an excellent sleep accessory for just about anyone!
Body Nest U-shaped pregnancy pillow offers the perfect, full-body support for any pregnant mother (or anyone else who wants added comfort during sleep!). The reversible, machine-washable cover makes it convenient and adaptable to any season.
Leachco Snoogle Original Pregnancy Pillow
The Leachco Snoogle Pregnancy Pillow comes in a C-shape, so it fits around the user a bit differently. You can have the long part at your back and the opening of the “C” at your front, or vice versa. You can flip it over to accommodate your unique needs and pain points. The Snoogle comes in a few different color options, as well, so you can choose your favorite look.
Developed by a registered nurse and mom, this pregnancy pillow is quite firm, but the sides of the “C” can be adjusted to lay around your body in a way that feels most comfortable to you. The cover is removable and machine-washable, though the polyester materials can get hot or scratchy for some users. It’s also a bit difficult to replace the cover, and the zipper seems a bit flimsy.
This large pillow (some say too large, as it takes up quite a bit of space in the bed) also can be used as a convenient nursing pillow after your baby is born.
The Leachco Snoogle Pregnancy Pillow provides a quality, large C-shaped option. With a washable cover and extra firmness, it can be wrapped around your body to cocoon you in the way that feels most comfortable.
PharMeDoc U-Shape Pregnancy Pillow
The PharMeDoc Pregnancy Pillow is another U-shaped option, with a bit of a twist. On one side, a portion of the pillow can be detached from the full pillow to be placed around you as needed. Or, if you need to save space in your bed, it could be set aside so that the full pillow becomes smaller. Though for some, this side is not as supportive, and the pillow as a whole may flatten easily.
The pillow can provide support for your back, belly, hips, knees, and neck. It can also be used in various ways, such as sitting up and reading or breastfeeding. The polyfill blend becomes more supportive with more weight placed on it. And the machine-washable cover is made of a velvety soft material – though this does tend to get quite hot, for some users.
The PharMeDoc U-shaped pillow with the zip-off extension offers lots of options for configuring during use. This makes the pillow quite versatile, so you can use it in the way that feels most comfortable to you.
Queen Rose U-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow
The Queen Rose U-shaped Pregnancy Pillow cradles you, offering support to the entire body – though some complain that it’s too flat and doesn’t hold its shape well. The U-shape is curved in the middle to provide targeted support to both sides of the midsection – the back and the belly. The pillow offers cushioning, but is rather restrictive at the top, making it tight at the shoulders.
Like the other pillows, it can serve many uses besides just sleeping – reading, watching TV, or nursing. The Queen Rose pillow comes in several sizes, too, which is helpful if you’re looking for something to suit a size other than average. The cover is machine-washable, though the material seems to be on the warmer side and may be too hot for some people.
The Queen Rose U-shaped Pregnancy Pillow comes in several sizes and is soft and warm, snugly cradling your entire body.
Hiccapop Pregnancy Pillow Wedge
The Hiccapop Pregnancy Pillow Wedge can provide targeted support to whatever part of your body needs it most. It can be used to support your belly, back, knees, or head (to reduce heartburn). This added support can reduce swelling, pain, and numbness in the extremities.
The wedge is dual-sided, with a soft, memory foam on one side, and firmer support on the other, though these sides are not labeled, so it may be difficult to remember. The obvious downside to this wedge – it only offers support to one area of the body at a time – is also its strength, because it’s so compact and convenient. It’s easy to travel with and won’t take up too much space in your bed.
Since the wedge can only be used in one area at a time, you may have to move it around a lot if you tend to toss and turn through the night. The washable cover is nice and soft (sometimes too soft, you may find it sliding out of position from time to time!).
The Hiccapop Pregnancy Pillow Wedge is a convenient way to get support for one part of your body at a time. If you do need more full-body support, this might be perfect if used in combination with a larger pregnancy pillow.
How Do Pregnancy Pillows Work?
Pregnancy pillows help add to comfort by taking the pressure off your joints and muscles. With pregnancy, as a woman has more and more weight to support, it can be hard on the body. It becomes tiring and can make it difficult to get a comfortable sleep at night. A pregnancy pillow offers support to any strained areas of the body, so the user can fully relax and get some good rest.
What Causes Hip Pain During Pregnancy?
Hip pain is quite common in pregnancy. It may be caused by any one – or multiple – of the following factors.
The Hormone Relaxin
During pregnancy, relaxin increases to relax the tissue throughout your body so there’s room for everything to stretch and grow. However, this can also cause discomfort in the pelvis, especially the hips and back.
The added weight of a baby puts stress on your joints and bones. Doctors typically recommend most women should gain between 25-35 pounds throughout pregnancy.
Weight gain can also lead to changes in posture. You may unconsciously adjust the way you stand as your midsection becomes heavier, and this can cause joint pains. It may help to wear supportive shoes, avoid lifting too much, and take breaks when you need to. And stay active to keep your muscles healthy so they can support you.
Changes in Posture
Along with adjustments in posture that added weight and center of gravity fluctuations fuel, your posture may also change because of the relaxin produced. Relaxin acts as a cartilage and tendon relaxer, making your hips wider and your joints looser to prepare for birth. These extensive bodily changes are bound to cause some soreness and pain as your body prepares to bring a baby into the world.
Found most often in women during their third trimester, transient osteoporosis involves the degradation of hip bones. The hip pain associated with this condition is often sudden and worsens over time, becoming unbearable during simple activities like walking.
Though sleeping on your side is the recommended position during pregnancy, it may add to pressure on your hips because the baby’s weight is sitting right on top.
Having a pillow placed between your knees can help align your hips for reduced pain. It may also help to have support under your belly so it doesn’t pull down to your side and increase strain on your hips.
Hip Pain Relief
While adding a pregnancy pillow to your nighttime routine is the best way to decrease hip pain from pregnancy, some women may need to make some additional lifestyle changes to find relief. With hip pain present in at least 20% of pregnancies, women have been dealing with this issue for years. They have found several solutions to try so you can find one that fits your individual needs.
Some of the most popular methods of decreasing hip pain are stretching or exercise, pain-relieving medication, warm compresses, or massage. Since each one has its own unique benefits, you could try them all to see which methods work best for you.
Stretching and Exercising
Stretching your body and maintaining a healthy weight can relieve pressure on your hips when pregnant. Stretching helps to loosen any tight muscles in your hip area, and it is also a great safe, low-intensity option for pregnant women wanting to work out. For this reason, yoga is popular with expecting mothers as low-impact workouts that loosen sore ligaments.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests pregnant women exercise for at least 150 minutes a week but only exercise enough to start sweating. If you are just beginning an exercise routine, you can start with five minutes per day to ease into it. Exercising too intensely can have negative effects on you and your baby.
Pain Relieving Medication
While being pregnant limits the medications you are allowed to take, there are still some over-the-counter pain medications that may work to relieve hip pain in pregnancy. Expectant mothers often use Tylenol, or acetaminophen as a pain reliever because it is safe for the baby and the mother even at higher doses.
Make sure to avoid NSAIDs or opiates as they could negatively impact your baby’s development or cause unnecessary complications. And of course, you should always consult your doctor before taking any new medication.
Heat therapy works perfectly for reducing joint stiffness and sore muscles by increasing blood flow to a specific area.
You can make a warm compress at home by soaking a washcloth or towel in warm (not hot) water and applying it to the area that feels the sorest. Heating pads or store-bought compresses work just as well.
A pregnancy massage can have many benefits, such as improved quality of sleep, decreased anxiety, and decreased hip pain. These massages are safe for women past their first trimester of pregnancy and are popular for the pain relief they offer.
When to See a Doctor
If your hip pain is severe and persistent, it might be time to see a doctor. Intense hip pain that doesn't go away can signify preterm labor or other serious complication.
How to Choose a Pregnancy Pillow for Hip Pain
Pregnancy pillows come in so many shapes and sizes, it’s difficult to know where to begin. For starters, look for something that can provide cushioning between your knees and/or support for your growing belly. But there are several factors to consider when searching for a pregnancy pillow.
What to Consider When Purchasing a Pregnancy Pillow
Most pregnancy pillows are built to support side sleeping, as that is the preferred position recommended by doctors during pregnancy. Sleeping on your back can restrict circulation, and sleeping on your stomach becomes more difficult each week, for obvious reasons. This is why pregnancy pillows help the user to stay on their side (without rolling over one way or the other) and to stay comfortable in that position.
Pregnancy pillows come in several shapes, with the most common being U-shape and C-shape, and a smaller wedge shape. The larger pillows – U- and C-shapes – will provide support to the entire body all at once, including head, neck, abdomen, back, knees, and even ankles and feet. On the other hand, a wedge will only support one area of the body at a time. You’ll need to determine which style will best suit your needs.
Loft indicates the height of the pillow. At the right height, it can adequately support you and put you in proper alignment. This depends on your body type and preferred sleep position. Since your sleep position is best on the side, you may need a higher loft to support your head, neck, and other joints. If you have broad shoulders, you may need something higher, and with narrow shoulders, you’ll likely do better with a thinner design.
Support and Comfort
You’ll want to find just the right balance of firmness and comfort to provide proper support for your body, but feel soft rather than stiff. If you just need a bit of extra support, you might try something with a polyester fiberfill, as these tend to be softer. For more firm support, try a foam-based pillow.
It’s common for women to feel overly warm during pregnancy. Though a pillow can significantly aid your comfort in sleep, it can also add to the heat you feel. Some materials do a better job at being breathable and cooling. Memory foam is more likely to trap heat, whereas cotton or polyester blends tend to promote better airflow and coolness.
Most pregnancy pillows on the market run less than $100. Remember that sometimes paying more means getting a higher quality product. On the other hand, purchasing a more compact pillow, such as a wedge, may save you some money, as these are most often priced at or below $50.
What Are the Benefits of Pregnancy Pillows?
Pregnancy pillows can serve many benefits. They are made uniquely to hug and cradle the contours of a pregnant body to reduce pain in all areas.
Help you adjust to a new sleeping position
Since you don’t have many options for sleeping positions during pregnancy, a pregnancy pillow can help you adjust to your two options of sleeping on either side. They can help prevent you from rolling onto your back or too far onto your stomach during the night.
Keep your spine and hips in alignment
You have enough strain on your pelvis, spine, and joints right now. Sleeping with poor posture can only aggravate these problems. On the other hand, if you have the support of a pregnancy pillow to keep you in alignment, it can help ease the strain of the day.
Take pressure off the pelvis
With a growing baby taking residence in your body right now, you have a lot of added pressure on your hips and pubic bone. By keeping legs parallel, you’ll take some of the pressure off these areas. Having some support under your tummy can help, too, so it doesn’t pull down to the side and strain your hips even more.
Having everything in alignment can help keep your blood circulating smoothly throughout your body, so you don’t have to worry about your legs going numb or cramping up.
Reduce heartburn and congestion
By elevating your head, you make it easier for your body to deal with other common pregnancy ailments, such as nasal congestion or heartburn.
All of these factors taken together will (hopefully) contribute to a sounder sleep for pregnant ladies. And during these 9 months, sleep is more essential than ever to help your body stay rested and keep growing a healthy baby.
Types of Pregnancy Pillows
U-shaped pregnancy pillows situate your head at the bottom of the “U” shape, with the sides coming down across the sides of your body. Of course, you can reconfigure your pillow however you’d like – but this is the way a U-shaped pillow is typically used.
It’s meant to serve as a “nest” for your entire body, supporting both sides, as well as your head and neck. This pillow is often quite large, taking up a lot of space on the bed. But it can also be quite versatile and provide extra comfort when sitting up, relaxing, or even nursing your baby.
A C-shaped pillow is less bulky than a U-shaped, but still offers cushioning for most of your body. It can be arranged multiple ways, depending on what you need. Most often, women sleep either with the open end of the “C” toward their front or their back, but again, you have the freedom to experiment and find what works for you.
This is the smallest, most portable variety of pregnancy pillows. They do not offer support to your entire body all at once but can be placed in different areas, depending on where you need the support. Pregnant women most often use wedges to support their bellies or backs. You might even use one in combination with a fuller body pillow for maximum comfort.
Some pregnancy pillows are inflatable – almost like a pool floatie – and are made to accommodate stomach sleepers. These pillows feature a hole in the middle for the baby bump to fit, so the user can safely lay or sleep on their front side.
A run-of-the-mill body pillow can also be quite useful during pregnancy. This looks more like a regular pillow but is about double the length. They’re most often hugged along the front side of the body and in between the knees to keep the hips in alignment.
Types of Pregnancy Pillow Materials
This material adds quite a bit of loft to a pillow and is most often used in large pregnancy pillows. It provides lots of airflow and soft, but adequate support. It also tends to be affordable, easy to wash, and hypoallergenic.
Memory foam is known for its ability to conform to a body’s shape and size for customized support. However, this material does tend to trap heat, so it’s best used in smaller sleeping accessories, such as wedges.
Polyfoam is a firmer type of foam than memory foam. It still provides contouring but can be more supportive for a strained belly or back.
Cotton is a natural material that’s easy to clean and breathable. It’s soft and absorbs moisture to keep the user cool during use.
Polyester is a synthetic material that tends to be inexpensive. It’s quite versatile and can be formed into various textures and even can have some elasticity, which can make it easier to remove from or place on a pregnancy pillow.
Where Can I Buy a Pregnancy Pillow?
You can find pregnancy pillows with many retailers. Walmart, Target, Buy Buy Baby, Bed Bath and Beyond, and, of course, Amazon, will always have pregnancy pillows on hand for their pregnant customers. Just be sure to check the return policy before you make a purchase, as you might not know what you like (and don’t like) until you try one out!
How To Use a Pregnancy Pillow
A pregnancy pillow is most often used to aid in comfort during sleep. But it can also be used for nursing your baby, sitting up and working, or watching TV. The ultimate goal is to provide support and comfort for you during pregnancy (and beyond!).
Other Uses for a Pregnancy Pillow
Many women love pregnancy pillows for their comfort and versatility even after pregnancy. Offering continued body support for new moms and a convenient breastfeeding pillow, these pillows are useful long after you give birth. Even some people who aren’t pregnant choose to use pregnancy pillows as additional support for their back, neck, or hips because of their ease of use for stomach and side sleepers.
Postpartum Body Support
After giving birth, your body does not immediately revert to its old self, unfortunately. All the ligaments that stretched and bones that moved are still finding their way back to their natural spots in your body, and your body still needs support during this time (especially if you had surgery.)
Hip pain can continue after birth, as well. Up to 37% of women continue to have hip pain for months after giving birth, which makes pregnancy pillows even more useful for women who are currently pregnant.
How to Sleep with a Pregnancy Pillow
How you choose to sleep with your pregnancy pillow depends in part on what type of pregnancy pillow you buy, as well as where your highest pain points are.
Most U- and C-shaped pillows are designed to have part of the pillow fit between your knees to keep your hips aligned. Then the uppermost part of the pillow can support your belly and back on either side of your body. For a wedge, on the other hand, you can choose a targeted area that needs support the most and use the pillow there.
Can You Sleep On Your Stomach With a Pregnancy Pillow?
The only type of pregnancy pillow that allows true stomach sleeping is an inflatable style that features a hole in the middle where your baby bump should fit. Other styles are made to accommodate side-sleeping, as this is the recommended position during pregnancy.
What Month Should You Stop Sleeping On Your Stomach While Pregnant?
It’s usually okay to sleep on your stomach until your baby bump starts growing too big. This typically happens around 16-18 weeks, but will vary depending on the person. For most women, it will eventually start to feel uncomfortable to sleep on your stomach as your belly grows.
Commonly Asked Questions About Pregnancy Pillows
What is the best pregnancy pillow for hip pain?
The Body Nest Pregnancy Pillow comes in a U-shape that offers support for your knees, belly, back, and neck. This durable, comfortable pillow will keep your spine and hips in alignment and reduce stress and pain on your hips.
Does a pregnancy pillow help with hip pain?
Yes! A pregnancy pillow can give a cushion between your knees to keep your hips aligned. It can also provide support for your baby bump, which can reduce the pulling and pressure on your hips, as well.
What type of pillow is best for hip pain?
A larger pregnancy pillow, such as a U- or C-shaped pillow, might provide the best support for reducing hip pain. This is because these pillows offer full-body support – between your knees, and at your abdomen and back, and for your neck and head. This will help keep your spine and pelvis aligned to help alleviate hip pain.
When should I start using a pregnancy pillow?
Whenever you want! During your second and third trimester, your pregnancy aches and pain will probably become more pronounced as your baby grows bigger. This is when women typically begin using a pregnancy pillow.
Is a C-Shaped or U-Shaped pregnancy pillow better?
This depends entirely on your preference. A U-shaped pillow is quite large but can provide lots of support for either side of your body. On the other hand, a C-shaped pillow is a little less cumbersome and can be flipped over to provide you support where you need it most.
When should you start sleeping with a pregnancy pillow?
You can start sleeping with a pregnancy pillow as soon as you start feeling the strain and pressure of pregnancy on your joints. However, if you’re concerned about adjusting to side-sleeping, you might start using a pregnancy pillow in your first trimester to acclimate you to this position.
How much do pregnancy pillows cost?
Pregnancy pillows are almost always under $100, most typically ranging from $30-70. Smaller models, such as wedges, will be less expensive (usually under $50), while larger U-shaped or C-shaped pillows will run toward the higher end of the typical range.
How do I clean a pregnancy pillow?
Some pillows can be washed in a washing machine – though, with the size and material, it may be difficult to find a pillow that your washing machine will accommodate. Most pregnancy pillows will conveniently come with a removable cover that can be machine washed.
Why should I avoid sleeping on my back while pregnant?
The aorta and the vena cava – two big blood vessels – run through your abdomen. Lying on your back once your pregnant belly grows heavier can compress these vessels. This decreases blood flow for yourself and the baby, which can cause lightheadedness for you, and decreased nutrients for the baby.
What position should I sleep in during pregnancy?
It’s best to sleep on either side during pregnancy, to avoid putting pressure on your major blood vessels. Either side is fine, though the left side is slightly better, as it can improve blood flow even more, and also help ease digestion.
Why Trust PillowGuide.org?
PillowGuide.org is the expert source on all things pillows. We’ve done our research to help readers find pillows that best accommodate their needs, giving you a supported, comfortable, healthy night’s sleep.