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Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy

Stomach, back or side? Here’s what you need to know about safe, comfortable sleep positions during pregnancy.

pregnant woman sleeping, sleeping positions during pregnancy

Now that you need a good night's sleep more than ever, it's unfortunately harder than ever to get. Finding the right sleep position isn't easy, since two favorites (stomach and back) aren’t the best choices during pregnancy. Here’s what you need to know to stay comfortable and safe.

Sleeping positions in pregnancy

Sleeping on your stomach

If your favorite position is tummy-down, that’s perfectly fine — until your tummy is the size of a watermelon, at which point you’ll have to switch positions (for what will become very obvious reasons).

Sleeping on your back during pregnancy

Experts recommend pregnant women avoid sleeping on their backs during the second and third trimesters. Why? The back sleep position rests the entire weight of the growing uterus and baby on your back, your intestines and your vena cava, the main vein that carries blood back to the heart from your lower body.

This pressure can aggravate backaches and hemorrhoids and make digestion less efficient, interfere with circulation, and possibly cause hypotension (low blood pressure), which can make you dizzy. Less-than-optimal circulation can also reduce blood flow to the fetus, giving your baby less oxygen and nutrients.

Bottom line: it’s not unsafe if you find yourself on your back once in a while, but being on your back for prolonged periods of time over weeks and months can be problematic.

Sleeping on your left or right side

During the second and and third trimesters, sleeping on either side — preferably the left, if possible — is ideal for you and your baby-to-be. This position allows for maximum blood flow and nutrients to the placenta (less pressure on the vena cava) and enhances kidney function, which means better elimination of waste products and less swelling in your feet, ankles and hands.

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What is the best position to sleep in pregnancy?

The safest bet for pregnant women past the first trimester is to sleep on your left side, a position that supports optimal circulation.

Tips on comfortable pregnancy sleeping positions

Not used to lying on your side? Or always been a side-sleeper — but can’t seem to get any rest now that you’re expecting? Here are a few tips to tackle pregnancy sleep problems and get yourself comfy sleeping in the side position:

  • Use lots of pillows. Try crossing one leg over the other and putting one pillow between them and another pillow behind your back — or any other combination that helps you sleep.
  • Get a special pillow. For extra support, try using a wedge-shaped pillow or a 5-foot full-body pregnancy pillow.
  • Prop yourself up. If pillows don’t help, try sleeping in a semi-upright position in a recliner (if you have one) instead of the bed.

Keep in mind, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable for a few nights or even a few weeks; your body will most likely adjust to a new position given time.

Pregnancy pillows to help you sleep

The Best Pregnancy Body Pillows to Help You Sleep More Comfortably

Leachco Snoogle Chic Supreme

Boppy Multi-Use Total Body Pillow

PharMeDoc Full Body C-Shaped Pillow

The Best Pregnancy Body Pillows to Help You Sleep More Comfortably

What if you wake up sleeping on your back in pregnancy?

Best intentions and nightly rituals notwithstanding, very few people stay in one position throughout the night. If you wake up sleeping on your back during pregnancy, or on your stomach, don't worry (repeat: don’t worry). No harm done.

The fact that you woke up in the first place is probably your pregnant body's way of telling you to change positions (and maybe go to the bathroom  again , another common pregnancy sleep problem). So just flip back over onto your side and don't give it another thought!

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