For many, pregnancy comes with all kinds of aches, pains, and interruptions to sleep. It’s possible to get by with regular pillows stuffed between your legs, under your belly, and behind your back—but many people prefer the extra support that pregnancy pillows provide, especially during the second and third trimesters. But there are tons of different pregnancy pillow options, and we wondered: which ones are worth the money?
To find out, I slept with six different pillows during weeks 20 through 28 of pregnancy. After all that sleeping on the job, the Momcozy J-shaped pregnancy pillow emerged as my personal favorite. But different people like different things—and Frida, Boppy, PharMeDoc, and Belly Bandit also make winners.
Are Pregnancy Pillows Worth It?
Pregnant people should avoid sleeping on their back in late pregnancy due to the weight of the belly possibly compressing blood vessels in the back body, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists “The Top 6 Pregnancy Questions I Hear From First-Time Moms” View Source (ACOG). The organization recommends side-sleeping for the best blood flow. It’s possible to side-sleep without the aid of special gear, but pregnancy pillows are designed to help support a person’s changing body, particularly in the hips and belly. Many people choose to give them a shot for this reason, though there isn’t a ton of research on how much they help. One PubMed “Evaluation of a maternity cushion (Ozzlo pillow) for backache and insomnia in late pregnancy” View Source found that pillows that helped support the belly also helped reduce back pain in pregnant people.
Some pregnancy pillows look like traditional body pillows with small tweaks. Others are quite compact and just support the belly, while others are infamous for overtaking the bed, wrapping around a person’s entire body. There are also donut-shaped pillows that can allow dedicated stomach sleepers to continue to sleep on their belly as it grows. (The American Pregnancy Association “Best Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy” View Source considers these kinds of pillows a safe option if using one helps you sleep; other major organizations, such as ACOG, say stomach sleeping is fine for as long as it’s comfortable, but don’t necessarily endorse these style of pillows.) For this roundup, we tested pillows that encourage side sleeping, as that’s the most commonly recommended position.
And in case it’s not obvious: sleep is super important for pregnant people. Adequate slumber can help Johns Hopkins Medicine “Pregnancy and Sleep” View Source like high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and longer labor times. “Sleep is often the key to having enough stamina for labor and a well-rested body is better able to initiate the labor process,” says Ivy Joeva, a doula and birth educator on the Ness Card provider network. So if they help you catch some ZZZs, pregnancy pillows are definitely worth it.
The Best Pregnancy Pillows
Best J-shaped Pillow
Momcozy Pregnancy Pillow
- J-shaped pillow
- Intended for side sleeping (but may be used for back sleeping with medical guidance)
- Polyester blend
- Evenly distributed stuffing
- J-shape comfortable for all-night use
- Relatively compact
- Somewhat tough to maneuver in bed
- Not as breathable as others on the list
This Momcozy pillow provides consistent and supportive stuffing, a relatively compact size, and comfort through the night. Designed for side sleeping, it comes in one size and is roughly the shape of a traditional body pillow, though the Momcozy curves slightly (it’s considered a “J” shaped pillow) and has a bump of fabric meant to support the belly.
Momcozy’s stuffing is evenly distributed and didn’t displace during testing, so you can count on it keeping your hips or belly supported through the night. It was comfortable enough that I wasn’t tempted to roll around too much. It’s intended to be placed between the legs and under the head to facilitate side sleeping, which I found very comfortable and used most nights. It’s also the only pillow that allowed me to partially lie on my back. As recommended by my healthcare provider, I’d wedge it under one half of my body, tilting me slightly to one side, which allowed me to get some of the comfort of sweet, sweet back sleep without any worries.
The jersey-style 100% polyester cover is relatively breathable, though I found myself kicking my covers off a few times when I got overheated. Because it’s relatively compact and doesn’t wrap around the body like others on this list, it didn’t contribute to major overheating. The cover can be thrown in the washer and drier and feels like it’s made well. That said, it’s thin and may not hold up to several wash/dry cycles—so treat it carefully.
One small downside is that the pillow is a little heavy (about 4.4 pounds). The cover’s fabric also causes more friction under blankets than others on this list, so flipping from side to side during the night requires some wrestling. This was an issue for me. My main pregnancy discomfort has been groin pain (more formally known as Cleveland Clinic “Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction” View Source , in which the joint between the left and right pelvis bone move a little too much thanks to the hormone relaxin). This affects about Cleveland Clinic “Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction” View Source . The pain is exacerbated when moving around in bed, and having to maneuver the pillow didn’t help. That said, the Momcozy gave me more (and better) nights of sleep than any other pillow. I can see using it beyond pregnancy, too.
Best for Warm Sleepers
Frida Be Cool Adjustable Pregnancy Pillow
- U, C, L, and I shape
- Intended for side sleeping
- Nylon/polyester/spandex blend fabric
- Lightweight and compact
- Comfortable, cooling fabric
- Adjustable into different shapes
- Microbeads can be hard to position just right
- Not all configurations work well
For people who are prone to overheating (or just those who are pregnant during the summer), it’s hard to beat the Frida Be Cool pillow. The combination of synthetic fabric and microbeads mean it doesn’t add any extra heat while in use, which makes it a top contender for warm sleepers. At just 1 pound, it’s also lightweight, which made it easy to maneuver for middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks.
The Frida Be Cool pillow comes in one size. It’s about the length of a standard body pillow, but rather than being a flat-ish long rectangle shape, it’s round. One side has a slightly larger circumference than the other, and the brand explains that toward the narrower end, there is a fabric “divider” internally that allows for several pillow configurations and adjusting the level of “fluff.” It feels well-made and I didn’t worry about the pillow tearing under the weight of nightly use.
It can be customized into several different shapes—C (in which the pillow curves under the back and between the legs), I (when the pillow provides support at the front of the body), L (in which the pillow comes between the legs and in front of the body), and U (in which the pillow curves under the legs and provides equal support to the front and back of the body).
Rather than being filled with synthetic fluff like several pillows on this list, the Frida is filled with microbeads, which, combined with a silky synthetic fabric, helped keep the pillow significantly cooler than others. In the L-shape, the pillow did a good job of keeping me comfortable through most of the night, providing some support between my knees and tactile pressure behind me to discourage me from rolling onto my back (although I’m not sure the position would have prevented a determined back sleeper.) It’s comfortable enough that I would stay on one side for several hours before switching to the other side, which is typical of my sleep pattern.
While none of the pillows on this list managed to prevent my groin pain, the Frida was light enough and easy enough to maneuver that it didn’t make the pain worse when I needed to turn over in bed.
However, the pillow isn’t perfect. While the instructions describe how to achieve different shapes and supports, the only version that seemed practical to me was an L- or U-shape. That’s because the microbeads inside move around a lot. This means that if you don’t adjust the pillow just right, the beads can fully push out of the way. Then, you’ve essentially got two pieces of fabric between your legs and nothing else—which ended up being the case any time I tried to keep the pillow in an I-position.
It also means that if you adjust it too much (in my case, by twisting the fabric around per the instructions), the bead fill can become so concentrated that it’s like trying to wrap yourself around a barrel. The C-shape may work for some bodies. But on mine, I ended up feeling too tightly hugged around my middle, as well as feeling like the beads were too firm underneath me, even after trying to move them out of the way.
Still, most nights, I found a happy medium with an L-shape or U-shape (the difference in positions is mostly a matter of inches), and it was easy enough to reposition after late-night trips to the bathroom. And the silky nylon/polyester/spandex blend fabric was significantly cooler than other pillows on the list, which helped me from overheating. I also appreciated that the pillow is relatively compact, which meant cuddle sessions with my partner weren’t out of the question (and he also wasn’t pushed to the far reaches of the bed.) Because of how breathable it is, I can see using it throughout the rest of pregnancy and even postpartum—especially because the cover is removable and can be washed.
Best for Bump-only Support
Boppy Wedge Pillow
- Wedge shape
- Intended for side sleeping
- Cotton and spandex fabric
- Stationary stuffing
- Minimal functionality
- Doesn’t stay put
The Boppy Wedge Pillow is definitely compact, and the stuffing is firm without being wooden. The cover fabric is soft, washable, and seemed durable.
Its main drawback is that its functionality is limited—you can either put it between your knees or wedge it under your belly (or behind your back, if you’re sitting up). These are all useful functions for pregnant people, but it didn’t necessarily outperform any regular old pillow when placed between the knees. Another drawback: when placed under the belly, it didn’t quite stay put. I also couldn’t find that perfect spot that left my bump feeling supported without making me want to roll over onto my back. But everybody’s bump is different, so your mileage may vary—and plenty of Amazon reviewers gave the belly support 5 stars. If you’re someone who’s on the hunt for some bump-exclusive support, this is a good option.
Best to Prevent Back Sleeping
Belly Bandit S.O.S Sleep On Side
- Three-piece wedge shape
- Designed by an OBGYN
- Intended for side sleeping (and especially useful for back sleepers who want to be side sleepers)
- Polyester, rayon, and spandex material
- Definitely prevents back sleeping
- Adjustable width for many (though not all) body sizes
- Makes getting up from bed more challenging
- No postpartum use
Of all the pillows we tested, this one has the most specific purpose: to prevent back sleeping. And to that, we give the pillow kudos. It would take a Herculean effort to turn onto your back using this thing. The pillow is two separate pieces connected by a strip of fabric that is velcro adjustable. One is a wedge shape to support the bump, and the other is a triangle that lays flat against the back to prevent rolling. The velcro makes it adjustable to several different body and bump sizes (although larger bodies might find it doesn’t have enough room—it extends about 24 inches from the back rest to the end of the wedge pillow at its longest, fully Velcroed length). It felt durable and breathable. It’s also cool that it was designed by an OB/GYN.
The reason it’s not a top pick was that ultimately, I could never get comfortable. I couldn’t find a good spot to place the strap that didn’t make me feel slightly claustrophobic. And making tweaks to position the pillow required fully sitting up, adjusting the pillow by centimeters, lying back down, and doing it again. Considering how often lots of pregnant people get up to pee in the night—and that having to hoist yourself out of bed is a major contributor to anyone with groin pain—it’s tough to make this one work. It’s also unlikely to have any usefulness postpartum. But if you’re anxious about back sleeping, this is a great purchase.
PharMeDoc Full Body C-Shaped Pillow
- Intended for side sleeping
- Jersey cotton fabric
- Multiple uses
When pregnant people make jokes about replacing their partners with a pillow, the PharMeDoc Full Body C-Shaped Pillow is the kind of pillow they’re talking about. It’s massive. I managed to fit it (and my partner) on our King-sized bed, but I’d worry for anyone who shares a smaller one. Its cover is removable and washable, though I’m not sure how many washings it could withstand because I have another pillow with the same 100% jersey cotton fabric that has started developing small tears. The C-shaped pillow can be configured in several ways, including a backrest, bean bag-style nook, and a breastfeeding pillow. (The brand also mentions use as a footrest, but that’s sort of like saying a pile of clothes has extra use as a footrest.)
I wasn’t a fan of using the pillow as a nook because it required other pillows or something to lean against to keep my head supported, but it worked well as a back rest (as any collection of pillows might). I also haven’t (yet) been able to test its use as a breastfeeding pillow. My main focus was its use as a sleeping pillow.
Overall, it got the job done—I felt supported, discouraged from rolling on my back, and could easily get comfortable. Its only detractor is that it’s really cumbersome. Getting up to pee in the middle of night was like wrestling a limp anaconda, and switching the side I was lying on also required athleticism. If you stay mostly stationary during the night, it’s a good option. And if you like the feeling of being hugged all night, this pillow could easily take you past pregnancy. Plus, it’s the only pillow on this list that has a non-synthetic cover. (Though its fill, like others, is polyester.) If that’s important to you, it’s worth checking out.
How We Found the Best Pregnancy Pillows
Meet Your Guinea Pig
I’m Colleen Stinchcombe, a health writer with work in SELF, Health, EverydayHealth, and several other publications. I tested these pillows as my bump started to grow, between weeks 20 and 28 of pregnancy.
Our Testing Process
I pushed my partner to the edge of the bed to test out six different pillows between weeks 20 and 28 of pregnancy. I attempted to give each one at least one full night’s test. Products that had several different shape possibilities were tested for multiple nights.
The Pregnancy Pillow Buying Guide
Many pregnant people opt for special pillows to help them side-sleep, particularly during the third trimester. Some experts believe a pregnancy pillow Cleveland Clinic “Exactly How Bad Is It to Sleep on Your Back When You’re Pregnant?” View Source for both the baby and pregnant person. For this reason, we tested pillows that help support side-lying positions. (There are a few donut-shaped pillows that may allow pregnant people to stomach sleep until later in pregnancy. Stomach sleeping has mixed recommendations, however, so we opted not to test them.)
While pregnancy pillows are designed for pregnancy, non-pregnant partners have been known to steal a pillow or two, just because they can be pretty darn comfy.
What Matters Most When Buying a Pregnancy Pillow?
- Comfort: The pillow should have adequate “fluff” without having too much volume and be pleasant to sleep with. Bonus points if it helps to relieve pregnancy-related discomfort.
- Position maintenance: If you’re getting a pillow to help you sleep on your side, it should be good at doing that.
- Breathability: Pregnancy is warm enough as it is—a pillow shouldn’t leave you feeling overheated.
- Materials: Some pregnant people may want to look for pillows with natural/organic certifications, or made of non-synthetic material.
How To Sleep With a Pregnancy Pillow
Pregnancy pillows come in several shapes that will inform best uses. A few pregnancy pillow styles include:
Wedge: These pillows are designed to be positioned underneath the belly, helping to relieve some of gravity’s force in the side-lying position as the belly grows. This may be adequate on its own, or you may decide to add an additional regular pillow between your knees, between your arms, or behind your back. Belly wedges may also be used between the knees.
I-shaped and J-shaped pillows: These pillows look similar to traditional body pillows. They’re often positioned between the knees, and may also be tucked beneath the belly, between the arms, and under the head. J-shaped pillows allow for the same positions but are slightly curved to potentially make these positions even more comfortable.
U-shaped pillows: U-shaped pillows might be more accurately called “N”-shaped pillows, since most users will put the bottom of the U at their head, then wrap the arms of the U around their body. These pillows give a soft surface between the knees. The belly can often be hoisted on top of them, too, while the second arm wraps behind the body to help discourage back sleep.
C-shaped pillows: You can make several configurations out of a C-shaped pillows, as one of our tested pillows demonstrates. The most common use, however, is to wrap most of the C behind your back and curl the arms under your head and legs, propping your belly up where the open C meets.
Is a U-Shaped or C-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow Better?
There’s no research to suggest one is more effective than another—it’s really about your preference. One benefit to a C-shaped pillow it that it potentially has more configurations, like being used as (an admittedly oversized) breastfeeding pillow or as a backrest. But the nice thing about a U-shaped pillow is that you don’t always have to reposition it if you want to switch sides during the night, because the arms are roughly equal.
What Week Should You Start Sleeping With a Pregnancy Pillow?
There’s no wrong time to start sleeping with a pregnancy pillow, but most pregnant people will start to feel the most benefit when their belly begins to “pop,” often around month five of pregnancy. People in their third trimester might find that pregnancy pillows provide the most benefit, as this is when bellies are largest.