Before you’re pregnant, a pillow for most is just that: a pillow. We fluff them, we toss them, we sleep on them. Your average pillow has one job during this time: offer support to your head and neck while you get some hard earned sleep.

However, the role of your precious pillow will significantly increase when you’re pregnant, because when you’re expecting a good pillow is EVERYTHING.

You may be lucky and find your regular pillow is serving you well during your pregnancy, but for the rest of us we’ll need to call in some back-up: a pregnancy pillow.

Why consider a pregnancy pillow?

A pregnancy pillow is designed to support your changing body during pregnancy and increase your chance of a good night’s sleep. Unlike your average pillow that is designed to support your head and neck, certain specific pregnancy pillows can support your entire body.

Pregnancy pillows come in a variety of shapes. Each shape serves a specific purpose and will target a different area of the body. Choosing the right shaped pillow for you will depend on what you need it for.

Side sleeping during pregnancy

As your pregnant belly grows, Red Nose advise you switch to side sleeping to reduce the chance of stillbirth.

For those who naturally prefer to sleep on their back, a U-shaped or wedge-shaped pregnancy pillow can help you make this transition to side sleeping. We know, who knew pillows could be so clever?!

As your bump gets bigger it will also increase pressure on your hips and back. A pregnancy pillow can help reduce these aches and pains, and help you comfortably rest at night.

So if you’re expecting and experiencing a restless sleep, perhaps one of these fluffy companions is just what you need. We compiled this list after surveying thousands of expecting mothers about which shaped pregnancy pillows offered the most comfort. Here’s what we learned along the way:

1: C-Shape

The C-Shape Pillow

Some C-shaped maternity pillows are designed to contour around your back and belly at the same time. Others will support only your back or belly (depending on how you position the pillow). This shape is great at keeping your legs and hips parallel, which when used effectively can alleviate pregnancy aches and pains. Generally with the C-shape, you’ll rest your head at the top of the C-curve and wedge the bottom curve between your legs.

Key takeaways from our surveyed parents:

  • The C-shape pillow was comfortable

  • Our pregnant parents praised the versatility of the C-shape as it supported their neck, legs, hips and belly

  • They thought the C-shape did an effective job at preventing them from sleeping on their back

  • A lot of parents used this pillow once their baby arrived as a nursing pillow

  • The C-shape is fairly bulky and takes up a lot of bed space

  • Some of our taller parents found this shape didn’t suit their height (for taller parents we recommend the U-shape, more on that below!)

  • For some, sleeping on the curved neck/head support took some getting used to and for others it was very unpleasant

2: Wedge Shape

The Wedge Shape Pillow

A wedge cushion is a firm, light portable maternity pillow that can be used to support your bump or your back. Similar to the butterfly, the wedge is a great option for those looking for a compact option that won’t hog your bed! To use it, simply wedge it under your bump to support your growing bellow or behind your back to help to prevent you rolling over and sleeping on your back.

Key takeaways from our surveyed parents:

  • The wedge cushion was favoured for it’s compact size and portability

  • This cushion is also a more affordable option compared to some of the full-body size pregnancy pillows

  • As the wedge is quite firm, this pillow isn’t for those looking for a snuggly option

  • If you roll  during the night, you will need to reposition the pillow to offer adequate support

  • As the wedge is so small and portable, you can easily lose it during the night

3: U-Shape

The U-Shape Pillow

The U-shape maternity pillow is designed to offer full body support. Yes, it supports your back, belly, head and neck all at once. But for a pillow that offers so much there is one catch, the U-shape pillow is full body size and will take a up a significant amount of bed space. When using the U-shape, invert the ‘U’ so that its curve is upright. This is where you’ll rest your head/neck and you’ll nestle the rest of your body inside its contours.

Key takeaways from our surveyed parents:

  • The U-shape offers full body support

  • Those surveyed thought the U-shape was effective at encouraging side sleeping

  • Parents loved the versatility of the U-shape as it supported your neck, back, legs/hips and belly all at once without having to reposition the pillow throughout the night

  • The U-shape was also great post-partum when used as a nursing pillow

  • The U-shape is full body size and takes up a huge chunk of bed space

  • As you’re nestled in the arch of the U-shape, it can be quite difficult to turn over when you sleep

  • Some parents found the arched neck/head support uncomfortable (some found it helpful, including taller women, to flip the cushion so the curve was on the bottom and use their regular pillow for head/neck support)

  • Some parents noted they felt too hot cocooned inside the U-shape during the night

4: Butterfly Shape

The Butterfly Shape Pillow

Finally, a pregnancy pillow that won’t take up precious real estate in your bed! The butterfly shape is compact and sits under your lower back. This shape is designed to offer support to both sides of your growing belly with its wing-shaped sides.

Key takeaways from our surveyed parents:

  • The butterfly-shape offers effective back and belly support

  • Some mothers-to-be also used their butterfly pillow between their knees for added comfort

  • The butterfly is one of the most compact pregnancy pillow shapes (along with the wedge pillow)

  • Some parents mentioned they were still able to roll over in their sleep using this pillow

  • It was difficult to find suitable shaped pillowcases for the butterfly

  • Some people found the middle of the cushion too wide during early pregnancy as the pillow did not contour to their body

5: Long Rectangle

The Long Rectangle

The good thing about pregnancy pillows is that their name will tell you exactly what to expect. For instance, the long rectangle style is a longer and firmer version of your ordinary sleeping pillow. This shape can assist with side sleeping when positioned behind your back. In front it will offer support belly and hip support when it’s between your knees.

. Our surveyed parents found this shape the easiest to introduce to their sleep routine.

Key takeaways from our surveyed parents:

  • This shape was snuggly and comfortable

  • This shape offered excellent belly and hip support

  • The rectangle wasn’t too bulky and didn’t take up that much bed space compared to other pregnancy pillow shapes

  • Over the pregnancy period, it was mentioned this shape occasionally lost its density

  • When turning during the night, you have to reposition the pillow

  • In some instances, this shape didn’t prevent those from sleeping on their back, unless they positioned the pillow behind them (which meant they could not use the pillow to support their belly while they slept)


This is general information only. If you need personal, health, medical or technical advice when it comes to your growing family, please seek out a professional.