Choosing a Pillow for Pregnancy
By Osteopath, Rebecca Gunn
Is it possible to sleep comfortably during pregnancy?
As your baby grows and the uterus expands your normal sleeping position may no longer be recommended or may create discomfort. The recommendation is that expectant mothers should sleep on their side after 28 weeks to halve the risk of stillbirth (1). Sleeping on your left can avoid increased pressure on your liver but is also ok to alternate sides.
Discomfort during sleep can stop you from enjoying your pregnancy and in some cases can be the reason people choose an induction at term. For general tips, read through our blog coping with common discomforts of pregnancy. If you feel you may need additional supports, read on!
Should I purchase a pregnancy pillow to help with my pain/discomfort?
The decision to purchase a pillow will depend on where you are experiencing pain and how easily you adjust to sleeping on your side. There are three main types of pillow shapes available:
C shaped pillows
This style supports side sleeping and deters you from rolling onto your back. Look for one with a scalloped nook area to reduce compression on your shoulder and adjustable filling to ensure good neck alignment. Too high or too low and it may put more stress on your neck (2). You may still require the use of a wedge pillow (see below) and a standard pillow between your knees if you develop pelvic, abdominal, or lower limb pain.
U shaped pillows
U shaped pillows aim to provide support to the whole body and allow you to transition from left to right side without adjusting pillows during the night. Great for the rolling mother. The downside is they are very large and may not easily fit in your bed with your partner!
Wedge pillows are used to support a single area such as your growing belly or behind your back. These are designed to release pressure from the abdomen. It is the only pillow shape with evidence confirming a reduction in low back pain (3). It can be combined with a standard pillow under the knees and ankle to prevent pelvic rotation and SIJ pain and a contoured pain to support your neck while sleeping on your side. This is the best choice if you already have a contoured neck pillow or you have pelvic girdle pain.
The pillow you choose is not the only solution for getting a good night’s sleep. Here are some other tips:
Keep your bedroom cool as body temperature increases during pregnancy and the body requires a temperature drop to fall asleep
Adopt good sleep hygiene and try to go to sleep at the same time every night
Establish a wind down routine and avoid reading negative content online.
As your pregnancy progresses getting good sleep can be elusive. Getting comfortable at night can be influence your ability to fall asleep and stay that way. If you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep then please book in to see one of our osteopaths for a pillow assessment or treatment.