You may have heard of body pillows and pregnancy pillows and wondered what the difference was. The short version is that a body pillow is a type of pillow that supports your entire body, and a pregnancy pillow is a type of body pillow that gives extra support to a pregnant woman’s belly to increase her comfort in the third trimester. For a more in depth break down, read on.
A body pillow is a specialized type of orthopedic pillow (wiki). In general, an orthopedic pillow is designed to correct a person’s body position while they sleep, usually because that person suffers aches and pains in their joints, back, and/or neck. A body pillow is designed for a side sleeper, giving full support to their head, neck, back, lower back, hips, and knees. The best body pillows are made of memory foam, a pillow filling that has become very popular in the last decade. Memory foam is body heat sensitive, causing it to mold itself to the contours of the users body. Once settled in, the pillow will hold the sleeper in a completely neutral position, ideally removing pressure from all sore areas. Besides common aches and pains that most of us feel, body pillows are also known to help with sleep apnea, PMS pain, restless leg syndrome, and discomfort during pregnancy.
Providing all the benefits of a body pillow, a pregnancy pillow also supplies support to a woman’s stomach, especially during the third trimester. Most body pillows will function perfectly well as pregnancy pillows. Not just for sleeping, many women use these when just relaxing to help with the many aches and pains that go along with being pregnant. The most common designs are the C-Shaped pillow, the U-shaped pillow, or the multi-piece pillow. All three of these pillows are variations on standard body pillows, offering full body support for a side sleeper. During the third trimester, doctors recommend that a woman sleeps on her side to help blood flow through her uterus and to her baby. This may be difficult for someone who is accustomed to sleeping on her back, but with the help of a pregnancy pillow it becomes much easier to make the switch. If someone does not feel like they need the whole body support of a body pillow, wedge pillows are also widely available. A wedge pillow is, as the name says, a wedge shaped pillow that can be wedged under a woman’s stomach, propping up her belly and relieving stress from her back, hips, and buttocks.
Nearly everyone could benefit from using a body pillow; it eases pains in the neck, back, and joints, holds the sleeper in place helping them stay in a deeper sleep, and can help with common maladies such as sleep apnea, PMS pain, and restless leg syndrome. Even for a woman early in her pregnancy, it may be a good idea to use a body pillow to help her get used to side sleeping, which is the optimal sleep position during the third trimester of pregnancy. Once a woman reaches this stage of her pregnancy, having the extra support for her belly can really make a difference in improving the quality of her life while stimulating healthy blood flow to her child.