The Pregnancy Pillow Problem

I heard this was coming—the books, apps, and friends had warned me: It’s hard to sleep when you’re pregnant. But I cruised along, blissfully thinking, “That’s just everyone else. Zzzz.” And then.

First, I lost the ability to sleep on my stomach, which is how I traditionally start the night. On my belly, head facing right, my right thigh in a Half Frog yoga pose, 90 degrees to the headboard. With some strategic hand-propping I actually got away with this until about Week 15. The boobs and belly were getting harder to boost until one night, nope.

Then, buh-bye back sleeping. All those books and friends and apps say you can sleep on your back until Week 20. They lie. Or at least my 18-weeks pregnant body thinks so. When I’m on my back now a) My sacrum hurts like I have fallen on it, and b) It feels like my belly is suffocating me. And then of course I just read the study that back-sleeping could be one of the greatest causes of stillbirths in the world. How’s that for a lullaby?

So now, I’m where I will be for the next five months. On my sides. Side-sleeping was already in my repertoire, but now that it’s the only thing on the menu, of course, it doesn’t taste so good. So I am pillowing as such:

Between the Knees Pillows

The physical therapist getting my sacrum back in line told me that having a pillow between your knees while side-sleeping is essential to not straining the lower back or hips. You want your top leg to be parallel with the mattress, not pointing down or up. I’m still working on the right combination of pillows—mine are either too high or overly squishy. I’ve been told that two king-sized pillows stacked (or in the same pillow case) is ideal. Working on hunting some down for cheap.

The Special Maternity Pillow a.k.a. The Snoogle

Right up there with the slanket and the swacket, Snoogle is my new favorite non-word. It’s a curvy body pillow (tag line: The Mother of All Pregnancy Pillows) that you can use in a bunch of different ways—and people freaking love this thing: More than 1100 reviews on Amazon (slightly more than the book Goodnight Moon), and 4.5 stars. I’ve tried the “Back to Back” position with it and that feels alright and keeps you from rolling onto your back (which is good; I was just about to sew some tennis balls in my sleep shirt). But I think the “Belly Basic” is better—you sort of hug the pillow, preventing major boob squishage. Drawbacks are that is doesn’t have enough fill to keep my knees far enough apart, and my tendency to turn around a lot means that I get tangled in the Snoogle. At 4 am to a sleeping brain it seems entirely too much like a boa constrictor—which was funny when I was posing, awake, like Britney Spears with it, but not quite as amusing when dreaming about the jungle. (That’s me, at right, trying the Snoogle.) But I’ll probably give it another try.

The Husband Pillow

No, I don’t mean those prop-you-up pillows actually called husbands (why? why?). I mean my actual husband. Snuggling into him keeps my hips perfectly level, my arm supported so my shoulder doesn’t cave in, and there’s a nice neck-friendly pillow for my head. It also has a built-in heating and cooling device—I can warm up my cool belly and chill my hot hands (don’t ask, but they blaze at night). The only problems being, it moves, it snores a little, it’s scratchy between shaves, and, most important, it doesn’t like being a night-long pillow at all.

This is a good problem, I know. I’m pregnant! Yay! And, alas: The perfect pregnancy pillow search continues.