How to use maternity pillow?

Susan Fernandez November 11 2021

Pregnancy may cause a number of discomforts and pains. To help make sleeping more comfortable, a maternity pillow may be used to provide support for the body during sleep. The type of maternity pillow needed will depend on which trimester the pregnancy is in. A multipurpose pillow that can serve as breastfeeding support may also be used as well as pillows that are specially designed as maternity pillows.

Sleeping issues for pregnant

Problems while sleeping are common, especially in the third trimester. The most common issues are a pain in the back/neck or sciatica. Other complaints throughout pregnancy include leg cramps, congestion, heartburn, and nausea. There is no single perfect solution for all these problems but one of the best ways to get better sleep is by using a maternity pillow.

Insomnia due to discomfort

Around half of pregnant women experience insomnia during pregnancy. To help stop this, support pillows can be used by placing them behind the back or between the legs. This will provide extra support and make it easier for them to sleep on their side. The most comfortable position for sleeping is usually on the side with knees slightly bent, hip-width apart. For some women, sleeping on the left side will reduce pressure on the abdomen. Others may prefer to sleep on their right which may be better for digestion.

RLS (restless leg syndrome)

This is a common complaint in pregnancy and can cause a person to feel jittery, have a crawling sensation, or have pain in the legs. To help deal with this, sleeping with pillows between the knees may help keep them apart and provide some relief. Some women find it helpful to change position every few minutes but others get more rest by remaining still. In order for this method of relieving RLS to be successful, it has to be practiced from early on in the pregnancy since it often starts around week 20.

Reasons for using a maternity pillow

In general, there are three main reasons why women would choose to use a maternity pillow- comfort, support, and/or protection. Maternity pillows are more than just regular pillows. For example, they are designed to provide support for the bump during sleep. They are also often bigger with extra height in order to accommodate the pregnant belly and can be shaped into a horseshoe for added security.

The main types of maternity pillows that can be purchased include:

  1. The u-shaped full-body maternity pillow. This type of maternity pillow comes with two attached pieces that fit together like puzzle pieces and resemble the letter "u". These two pieces create one large cushion which surrounds your entire body allowing you to lie comfortably on either side or on your back throughout the night. It then tucks easily under the mattress so you can position it wherever is most comfortable for you, or use a standard bed pillow if desired.
  2. The c-shaped maternity pillow. This type of maternity pillow is not unlike a regular bed pillow except that it has an indentation meant to fit perfectly around your waistline and lower back in order to provide support for these areas while at the same time preventing you from rolling onto your back throughout the night. It can also be used instead of a regular bed pillow when sleeping on your side if desired.
  3. The large horseshoe-shaped maternity pillow is made up of four separate pieces which fit together like puzzle pieces in a horseshoe formation in order to surround your entire body with support from the neck down.
    The smaller horseshoe-shaped maternity pillow which is also made up of four separate pieces however fits together in a way that only surrounds your upper body while leaving your legs exposed so you can adjust them while resting or sleeping if desired.
  4. The long stretchable maternity pillow is known as the boppy pregnancy pillow can serve a variety of purposes throughout your pregnancy including use as full-body support, tummy time to help with strengthening and bonding between you and your unborn child, back support when sitting up in bed, and even propping when nursing since it is able to be used on both sides for infants who are either headstrong or laid back when feeding. It transitions into use after pregnancy as a support pillow for toddlers and children, as well as a breastfeeding pillow.
  5. The multi-purpose cotton maternity pillow can be used as both a nursing and sleeping pillow if desired but is also commonly used as body support for those who are suffering from back pain or any other condition that may require added cushioning.

Simple steps for using a maternity pillow include:

  • Locate the center of the middle portion of the maternity pillow and gently bend it until it measures about 12 inches wide or slightly smaller than your body's width when lying down so you do not roll onto the edges.
  • Slip one arm under this center portion so your elbow rests at the center of your pillow.
  • Place your head on top of the maternity pillow and pull the top portion over you until it is right under your neck. The bottom edge should feel soft against your back.
  • Remove one arm from underneath the pillow so that you are now using both arms to hold up this middle section rather than being supported by only one arm.
  • Slip your other arm through the hole located near where both edges have been folded together, then bring this side over to meet with the first side so that they overlap each other slightly in front of you.
  • Slide your hands into these two loops which have formed between where both sides have come together, then use these loops as handles to raise or lower the maternity pillow into a comfortable position.
  • Gently release your hands from the loops and move both arms to rest underneath this middle portion of the pillow, cradling it against your body as you lay your head back down onto it.
  • Continue to use this maternity pillow as needed throughout your pregnancy for support and comfort as well as during feeding time with breastfeeding pillows if desired.

When done using a maternity pillow, always make certain to store it in an upright position so that its full shape will not be lost. Also, make sure there are no objects within four inches of its surface that might cause damage to the cover or the foam filling inside. The foam filling may also break up over a long period of time, which would cause the pillow to become ineffective.


When a maternity pillow is no longer needed, one alternative is to use it as a support for a young child who begins to sit up and may need support when starting to learn how to crawl or walk. The pillow can also be used for pets such as dogs or cats that are injured. A pet who has been neutered may also lay on the maternity pillow comfortably due to its softness. In addition, this type of pillow can be placed inside a pet bed or even laid down inside an animal's crate or cage if desired since there are no removable covers to place in the washer and dryer.

A multipurpose maternity/breastfeeding support pillow can also be used beyond pregnancy and breastfeeding to provide support for a baby during playtime or even in a car seat. Also, when it is no longer needed as a nursing pillow, the maternity pillow can be used in a child's bedroom for sleeping until they are old enough to transition from using pillows while sleeping to not needing them anymore.