When I finally received the pillow and used it the first time, it kept my head up so high that I thought I might have to return it. After using it for a few days it " softened up " a little. Now, it is perfect for me. I am a side and belly sleeper and I really like the pillow. It does not flattened out like a " soft " or " medium " down pillow. There was no smell when I removed the plastic covering. I was able to use the pillow the very same night.