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How to Use a Pregnancy Pillow – Improve Sleep and Reduce Back Pain

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Back pain is a common problem affecting around 65 million adults each year, and it is very common during pregnancy, especially in the early stages. In fact, during pregnancy, the ligaments in your body become softer and stretch to prepare you for labor: this can put a strain on the joints of your lower back and pelvis, which can cause back pain.

Back pain can then affect all areas of your life, including your sleep. And sleep deprivation can affect your mental health, increasing the chances that you will develop pregnancy anxiety or even depression. Sometimes, it can stop you from doing your favorite activities.

Thankfully, there is an effective, if unusual, way to solve this problem. You’ll need to use a pregnancy pillow!

Let’s take a closer look at how you can use a pregnancy pillow for back pain.


how to sleep with a pregnancy pillow for back pain

What Is a Pregnancy Pillow?

As the name suggests, this pillow is primarily used by pregnant women. It was designed to make it easier to sleep. As their belly grows, it can be harder to find a comfortable position: this pillow solves this problem by allowing you to sleep in almost any position.

However, pregnant women aren’t the only group who found the pregnancy pillow useful. Anyone who suffers from back pain can find this type of pillow helpful.

The amount of support, and the ability to contour to the shape of your body, means that it is ideal for those with back pain. It will be able to help you get to sleep comfortably, offering you plenty of support. More importantly, though, it will be able to keep your spine in the correct alignment.

Why Do You Experience Back Pain When Pregnant?

While a pillow can help, it’s important not to overlook the underlying causes. There are a few potential areas that you might want to investigate. These can include:

  • Poor posture. As the baby grows, your center of gravity will start to change, moving further forwards. This has the potential to bring your spine out of alignment.
  • Hormones. These will loosen the joints. This will amplify any spinal problems that you are having.
  • Weight gain. This can put an additional strain on your back, amplifying the pain that you have. Unlike your posture, there isn’t anything that you can do about the weight gain caused by pregnancy.

It should be noted that these aren’t the only problems that you can face. This article goes into more detail about why you experience back pain during pregnancy. For a more definitive diagnosis, you should contact your doctor.

how to sleep with a pregnancy pillow for back pain

Types of Pregnancy Pillows

There are many types of pregnancy pillows available for you to choose from.  The main types are:

  • Full Length
  • C-shaped
  • U-shaped

Let’s take a closer look at each of these options to find the right one for you.

Full Length Pregnancy Pillow

As the name suggests, a full-length pregnancy pillow goes from your head to your toes. This often comes in two varieties:

  • A straight one, which is more rigid;
  • or a flexible option, which is more bendable

C-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow

C-shaped pregnancy pillow

Another option is to get a C-Shaped pillow. This is one of the most popular options for those who are struggling with back pain, mainly because it provides good support while still not taking up too much space in bed.

You can either wrap the pillow around your back, using one end as a pillow for head and neck support, and the other in between your legs to support your pelvic region. Alternatively, you can wrap the pillow around your front, providing support for your belly instead of your back.

If you are uncomfortable sleeping on your back, these pillows will prevent you from rolling on your back while you are sleeping. The main disadvantage is the fact that it’s not easy to turn around in bed if you are one of those people that like switching sides at night.

U-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow

Third, you might want to consider a U-shaped pillow. This is similar to the C-shaped version but it will have padding stretching down both sides of the pillow. This will give you more support compared to the C-shaped pregnancy pillow, though it will take up more space on the bed.

Positioning the Pregnancy Pillow

The type of pillow you are using will dictate how you should use it. 

If you have a full-length pillow, you will need to lie alongside it, then hug it and lie down on the pillow. The weight of the body will contort it to your body shape. This option is best for those who prefer to sleep on their stomach.

On the other hand, if you have a U-shaped pillow, you will need to place the top of the curve under your head. Then, pull the pillow down until it is under your thighs. It might help to hold one side of the pillow, pushing into the other side. This tends to be the best option for those who like to sleep on their backs.

Thirdly, if you have a C-shaped pillow, you can either wrap the pillow around your back or around your front as explained above. This is the best pregnancy pillow for back pain if you prefer to sleep on you side.

Getting Used to Your Pregnancy Pillow

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of where you should be positioning your pregnancy pillow. It’s important to remember that these are general guides. You might need to experiment a little to find a position that works for you.

How long it will take you to see benefits will vary. Some people will start to feel the effects on the first few nights. For others, though, it can take longer for their bodies to adjust to the new pillow.

It’s recommended that you give it at least a fortnight before deciding whether it’s right for you.

how to sleep with a pregnancy pillow

How to Choose the Best Pregnancy Pillow for Back Pain

There are plenty of pregnancy pillows on the market for you to choose from. To make sure that you get the right one for you, there are a few things that you need to consider.

First, it’s important to consider which shape you want. The best way of finding this is by thinking about which position you prefer to sleep in:

  • if you lie on your stomach, you will be best off with a full-length pillow
  • if you sleep on your back, it’s best to get a U-shaped pillow
  • if you prefer to sleep on your side, the C-shaped pillow will be the best option

The other thing you need to consider is how much space the pillow will take up. If you live alone, this won’t be a major concern. But if you have a partner, space might be at a premium. Because of this, you might need to measure the space before you buy your pillow.

Third, you should think about the type of filling it has. This will determine the amount of give it has. The right type of filling will depend on whether you want to sink into the pillow or not. Most will use polyester. This makes them soft and moldable. If you prefer something firmer, you might want to consider getting a pillow that uses memory foam.

Finally, you might want to think about the type of cover it uses. Ideally, you should get something that can be easily removed and is machine washable. This will make it easier to keep it clean. If you want some more tips and to compare some of the most popular options, check out this guide to pregnancy body pillows.

Other Ways to Reduce Back Pain During Pregnancy

While pregnancy pillows are a good idea, they aren’t the only way that you can combat back pain during your pregnancy. Let’s briefly look at some of the other options you can explore.

1) Improve your posture

First, it can be a good idea to try and improve your posture: this is ultimately where a lot of the back pain will be springing from. There are a few ways that you can do this.

  • You might want to wear shoes that offer good arch support: this will help you stand upright
  • You might also want to consider using a posture corrector to stop you from unconsciously slouching
  • Or you might want to try seeing a chiropractor: chiropractic adjustments can help relieve the pain by keeping the pelvis and spine in alignment naturally and safely.

Related: Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy (What it is & Benefits)

how to use a pregnancy pillow for back pain 2

2) Back Massage

Another option is to use a back massage. You can visit a professional masseuse once a week or you can seek relief at home.

It can be a good idea to use hot and cold packs. This will reduce inflammation and should lower your pain within a few minutes. You can also try a massage gun to loosen the muscles, relieving any lingering tension.

3) Exercise

Thirdly, it can be a good idea to use physical activity: it will keep the muscles in your back strong, making it easier to maintain the correct posture. It’s often best to stick to a low-impact type of exercise. You don’t want to risk overexerting yourself.

There are a few types of exercises that you can do, such as walking swimming or yoga. You can have a look here for a list of safe pregnancy exercises.

Related: Best Pregnancy & Antenatal Exercises safe for all Trimesters (and for easier labor!)

4) See a Physical Therapist

Finally, you might want to meet with a physical therapist and explain some of the pains that you have been experiencing. They will be able to go into more depth about why they are happening.

They will also be able to give you some stretches you can do at home to manage the pain. If you want more tips, check out this informative article.


Back pain is a common issue experienced by pregnant women. As your belly grows, the weight can push your spine out of the correct alignment causing the discomfort.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to manage this pain and one of the best is with a pregnancy pillow. This will give you more spinal support during the night, so you will always be able to sleep in a comfortable position. Give this method a go and see if it helps to relieve your pain!

For more tips and information on how to survive pregnancy, also check out these related posts:

Are you pregnant and experiencing back pain and have a question with regards to anything that written above? Or have you already used a pregnancy pillow and have some more tips on how to use them to combat back pain when expecting? Then please let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!

how to use a pregnancy pillow for back pain

Written by

Monica Greco
Monica Greco
Monica is the founder of Conquering Motherhood and a proud mom of two beautiful kids. As she says, giving birth to my second daughter was one of the most wonderful and empowering events of my life. That’s what’s inspired me to start this journey and share my story with you. Also, being a mother of a baby and a toddler, I know mom’s life is not always easy. Finding comfort in knowing you are not alone has always helped me. So, I’d like to pay it forward and share with other moms what I have learnt along the way providing tips, suggestions and recommendations on how to tackle motherhood.



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