Sleeping during pregnancy can prove to be full of infuriating irony. How? Well, there’s no fatigue like pregnancy fatigue. But, when it comes time to actually sleep, the struggle to snooze is oh-so-real. Stat: A National Sleep Foundation survey found that 78 percent of women have more trouble sleeping during pregnancy. Between your hormones and your changing body, getting comfortable enough to get those zzz’s you’re so desperately craving basically becomes the Holy Grail. And the fact that not all sleeping positions during pregnancy are good for baby makes the whole situation even trickier.
Fear not; you can still get lots of quality sleep. You should eke out every minute you can since you’ll be getting even less of it when you have a newborn that needs to feed every two hours around the clock. But what’s the best way to sleep when you’re expecting? Keep reading for more info on the best pregnancy sleeping positions.
Safe Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy
Can I sleep on my stomach while pregnant?
Raise your hand if you’re usually a stomach sleeper (*raises hand*). If so, you’re probably thinking, How is this ever going to work when I’m pregnant?! The good news is that it still can… for a little while. Until your pregnant belly gets too big for this to be comfortable — or even possible — you can still grab a little shut-eye while lying on your tummy.
Can I sleep on my left side?
Once your bump precludes stomach sleeping, you may shift to your side. Which begs the question: Which side is best? Historically, sleeping on the left side has been touted over the right. The reason? It’s thought that sleeping in this position allows for optimal blood flow from the inferior vena cava or IVC. This large vein is vital to the support of your baby. Left-side sleeping also reduces pressure on your liver and kidneys. This leads to better waste product elimination… and therefore less swelling in your hands, ankles, and feet (which is known as pregnancy edema).
Can I hurt my baby by sleeping on my right side?
You may have heard that sleeping on your right side while pregnant is a big no-no. However, a 2019 study showed that the risk of compression issues with the IVC is minuscule when you sleep on the right. So, generally, it’s now considered a safe pregnancy sleeping position.
What happens if you accidentally sleep on your back?
You had to know there was at least one position that’s considered off-limits, right? Sorry, back sleepers, you’ll need to find a new way to get comfy in your second and third trimesters. The problem: Back sleep puts all of the weight of your growing uterus and baby on your back, intestines, and IVC. Not only can this reduce blood flow to your baby, but it can also cause aggravation issues such as backaches, pregnancy-induced hemorrhoids, and indigestion.
If you wake up in the middle of the night on your back, though, you don’t have to panic. As long as you’re not sleeping in the position for prolonged periods of time, you should be fine. And think of it this way: Your body waking you up is probably its way of gently reminding you to switch positions. Trust your body!
So, what’s the best sleeping position during pregnancy?
When you’re settling down to sleep at night, just remember to “SOS.” Translation: sleep on side. If you have to choose one over the other, opt for the left. Although studies now show both sides make for safe pregnancy sleeping positions, the left may still have a little edge due to optimal blood flow.
Pregnancy Sleep Tips and Tools
Of course, knowing the proper pregnancy sleeping positions won’t do a whole lot of good if you can’t get comfortable enough to sleep. With that said, try these tips to help hit your preggo sleep stride.
- Pregnancy pillow: You’ve probably seen it in movies or maybe even one of those obnoxious late-night infomercials. Here’s the thing, though, full-body pregnancy pillows are legit! You can use them for extra support around your entire body, and it’s a beautiful thing.
- An upright position: It’s not ideal, but if you truly can’t seem to get comfortable lying down, you might prefer the semi-upright position of your favorite recliner.
- Exercise and stretching: Regular exercise and stretching strengthen muscles and increase flexibility, which can minimize the chance of discomforts like back pain and leg cramps.
- One last potty break: Real talk — you may still have to get up at least once in the night to pee. Frequent urination is just a fact of life for pregnant women. But taking one last trip to the bathroom right before you go to sleep could at least get you a longer stretch of sleep upfront. It also helps to avoid drinking liquids at night. This will reduce the number of trips to the toilet you take at night, which will give you a little more time to sleep.
- Avoid big meals and spicy food before bedtime. Heartburn can keep you up at night, so avoid eating buffalo wings in the evening. You’ll sleep way better! But if you are hungry before bed (baby wants what baby wants), try eating acid-free snacks like bananas, crackers, or cereal.
- Keep a regular sleep and wake-up schedule. This will help your body feel more rested. Set a bedtime and stick to it. Even if you’re not falling asleep immediately, giving your body time to rest and power down is important. Then, when you wake up in the morning, you’ll feel rejuvenated instead of groggy and tired.
- Stay away from caffeine before hitting the sack. Check the back of your tea packets, because sometimes they can be caffeinated. When you’re pregnant, it’s safest to avoid caffeine altogether.
- Take a nap. A nap during the day can help you fight fatigue and restlessness at night. A 20- to 30-minute nap should do the trick. Sleeping any longer will make you want to go to bed altogether, so set an alarm.
- Cooldown your bedroom. As a pregnant woman, you’re a hot mama — literally! Your body temperature goes up. Since you may feel warmer than usual, turning the air conditioner on in your room or turn the thermostat down at night may help you get to sleep. It’s better to be cuddled up under covers than sweating buckets into your sheets.
- Calm down and clear your head. We know it’s easier said than done. Still, try to destress before going to bed. Part of what keeps mamas up at night is unresolved stress, which is usually baby-related. We get it, but you can’t let anxiety steal your sleep. So, talk it out before bed. Find a professional, go to a mommy group, or grab a friend. Journaling is also a great way to get your thoughts and feelings out.
If you still can’t sleep and you’re starting to feel like a mombie, let your obstetrician or health care provider know so they can offer insight specific to your pregnancy.
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