Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy: Must-Know Positions and 4 Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleeping becomes increasingly difficult when you’re pregnant. You’ll start to ache, tossing and turning becomes the norm, and the added weight will make your joints hurt. And your back, hips and knees will begin to ache to the point where it’s difficult to fall asleep.

You’ll need to change your sleeping positions during pregnancy as you and your baby grow.

You may have slept on your back your entire life, but it’s not the recommended position when you’re pregnant. During the first trimester, you can sleep on your back without an issue. The first trimester is when your baby is so small that you will barely experience any weight gain.

But when the second and third trimesters begin, you’ll need to change up your sleeping positions.

Sleeping on your back puts a lot of pressure on the body as the uterus grows and the baby gains weight. When you sleep on your back, the position allows all of this added weight to apply pressure to the vena cava.

The vena cava is the main vein that carries blood to your lower body and back to your heart.

Sleeping on your back won’t cause severe side effects, but what it will do is compress the vein in some circumstances. When this happens, you’ll interfere with the body’s circulation. And as you know, circulation is one of the most vital factors in a healthy pregnancy. If you have poor circulation, further swelling, discomfort and even pregnancy complications can occur.

So, during your second and third trimesters, try your best to not sleep on your back.

Best Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy

When you hit the second and third trimesters, you’ll find that the best sleeping position will be on your side. Side sleeping allows you to keep pressure off of your back and the vena cava. Plus, when you sleep on your side, you’ll also allow for better overall circulation.

Left side sleeping is best for optimal circulation.

When you sleep on your left side, it allows for maximum blood flow, which will:

  • Improve circulation
  • Reduce swelling
  • Alleviate pressure on the back

But it’s likely that you’ll switch sides during the middle of the night, and that is fine. It’s expected that you’ll toss and turn to alleviate pressure – it’s natural. What’s most important is that you’re avoiding sleeping on your back during the last two trimesters.

What About Stomach Sleeping?

You can sleep on your stomach, back or sides – but many women do not find that sleeping on their stomachs is ideal. If you can only fall asleep on your stomach or back, you need to do what is best for you and your pregnancy.

Sleeping on your side is the absolute best position for a pregnant woman, but feel free to adjust to any sleeping position where you can actually get a few minutes of sleep. If that position is your stomach, that is perfectly acceptable.

4 Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleeping positions during pregnancy can be made even more comfortable with a few adjustments. And you may also need to adjust your position or adapt the position based on what you’re feeling. You may have heartburn or acid reflux, or you may find that your hips are achy and sleeping on your side is making the pain even worse.

The ideal solution is to modify your positions slightly:

  1. Shortness of Breath: If you find that you have shortness of breath when sleeping, place a pillow under your side to raise your chest slightly.
  2. HeartburnHeartburn can be even worse when you’re laying down because it allows the acids in your stomach to move to your throat. Prop your head up with more pillows or put a few books under your pillow so that your head is raised. Keeping your head raised will ensure that the acid stays in your stomach. And if you find this position uncomfortable, you can place pillows under your lower back and higher so that your head and midsection are elevated.
  3. Back and Stomach Support: Women often find that no matter what they do, they wake up on their back with aches and pains. Propping a pillow under your knees or stomach may help. If you want to remain in a side sleeping position, position a pillow under your back to prevent you from rolling over when you sleep.
  4. Knee and Hip Pain: If your knees or hips hurt when sleeping on your side, place a pillow between your knees. A pillow will help alleviate pressure on the knees and will push your hips back into alignment so that they don’t hurt. A body or pregnancy pillow will also help because these long pillows can be used to keep the knees cushioned, and can be wrapped under your body to also help combat shortness of breath.

Staying in one position that is uncomfortable will only make pregnancy more tedious and taxing for a mother-to-be. A few adjustments, like those listed above, will do wonders for you and your baby.

And if you find that you continue to have difficulty sleeping, you can try a few of the following tips that will further help you get a good night’s sleep:

  • Turn Down the Heat: A woman’s body heat will increase during pregnancy. Waking up in a sweat is not fun. Lower the heat before bed to be a little more comfortable.
  • Stop Snacking Before Bed: You’re hungry or scared that your baby will be hungry all night if you don’t eat before bed. Eating before bed will lead to acid reflux and heartburn. You can combat this by not eating or drinking two hours before bed.
  • Don’t Nap Too Long: Napping numerous times a day is fine, but if you nap for over 30 minutes, you’ll often wake up groggy and moody – not fun.
  • Disconnect: Shut off the laptop, put the cell phone on vibrate, and disconnect before bed. Waking up to read what happened to your best friend on Facebook is not going to allow you to sleep the night through. Disconnecting is the best option.

Proper sleeping positions during pregnancy and the above tips will allow you to sleep comfortably all night long no matter what trimester you’re in.