A pregnancy pillow is a pillow which is designed to accommodate the changing body of an expecting mother. Especially in the later stages of pregnancy, it can become extremely difficult to find a comfortable position for sleeping, sitting, or lounging, which can contribute to muscle pain and soreness. Using a pregnancy pillow can make it easier to find a position which cradles and supports the body, increasing general comfort levels and reducing strain and tension on the back and joints. Pregnancy pillows are available from some stores which stock maternity-related items, and it is also possible to use generalized pillows as pregnancy pillows.
Women often find it challenging to find a good sleeping position during pregnancy, especially if they are accustomed to sleeping on their stomachs. About halfway through pregnancy, sleeping on the back is not recommended, which limits pregnant women to sleeping on their side. Sleeping on one side can be difficult as the baby grows, because the belly can pull the body out of balance and contribute to a sore back. A pregnancy pillow may be designed with a soft cutout so that it can be held against the front of the body to support the belly, or it may be designed as a firm wedge to support the stomach or back during sleep.
Other pregnancy pillows are designed like long loops or body pillows which can be arranged in various ways to support the body. One end supports the belly, with the other end tucking between the knees to elevate the hips in a less stressful position. Some women like to use two or more pillows to create a nest which supports the back and relieves pressure on the belly and hips, while others find it comforting to nestle with a single long pillow positioned along the length of the front of the body. Reconfigurable pregnancy pillows have velcro or snaps which can be used to adjust the layout of a pillow as the body changes.
In addition to being used for sleeping, these pillows can also be useful for lounging on the couch or around the house. Smaller versions of pregnancy pillows which are designed to relieve pressure on the pelvis can also be positioned in the car, carried on seated commutes, or used in the office to increase comfort during working hours. While some women might feel slightly silly traipsing around the subway or bus with a pillow under the arm, the increased comfort is well worth it.
Massage therapists who offer pregnancy massage also use pregnancy pillows in their work to make sure that their clients are positioned comfortably. Likewise, pregnant women may be offered additional pillows for physical support if they need medical procedures which require them to lie still. If a pregnancy pillow cannot be obtained, a large, firm pillow can be a good stand-in.