The Best Sleep Positions for Pregnant Women: Tips for Comfort and Safety

If you are pregnant, experts recommend sleeping on your left side. This is the most comfortable and safest sleeping position for pregnant women after the second trimester.


Sleep deprivation is common during pregnancy. This is the time when you need sleep the most. Yet, it can be hard to come by. Studies have shown that more than 78 percent of women have difficulty sleeping while pregnant. That’s because it can be uncomfortable and challenging to find a good sleep position, as your belly grows. So, what are the best sleeping positions for pregnant women? Side sleeping is the best for pregnant women. Here’s why. 

Sleeping Positions and Pregnancy  

If you are pregnant, you'll want to avoid sleeping on your back or tummy — especially after your fifth month. Early in your pregnancy, these positions can be fine. A study found that sleeping position during the first and second trimester doesn’t increase the risk of complications.  
But, later on, you’ll want to avoid these two positions.

Avoid: The Back  

Studies have found a connection between back sleeping and late pregnancy loss. Sleeping on your back puts pressure on the inferior vena cava. This is your body’s largest vein and carries blood back to your heart from your legs and feet. If this vein is compressed, it can cause blood pressure to drop as there will be less blood returning to the heart. This can lead to symptoms like shortness of breath and dizziness. It can also cause the baby to not get enough oxygen. If the vena cava is compressed over a long period of time, it can cause preeclampsia, low birth weight, and other complications.  
Sleeping on your back also puts pressure on the aorta, which is the blood vessel that runs behind the uterus. In addition, sleeping on your back can make it harder for you to breathe if you are pregnant.

Avoid: The Stomach  

Sleeping on your stomach is not any better. After the second trimester, your growing tummy will likely make sleeping on your stomach nearly impossible. It’s almost like trying to sleep on a bowling ball! When you lie on your stomach, your stomach presses uncomfortably on your uterus. It also presses on your breasts, which are likely more sensitive from hormonal changes.

 Side Sleeping is Best  

Sleeping on your side is best throughout your pregnancy. It will be more comfortable for you and safer for your baby. Most experts recommend lying on your left side with your knees bent. This will enable oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to reach your baby more easily. It also prevents your body weight from pushing down too hard on your liver and kidneys. Sleeping on your left side can also help reduce swelling in your ankles, hands, and feet.  
What if you prefer your right side? While sleeping on your left side is optimal during pregnancy, the right side is fine as well. 

What If You Wake Up On Your Back or Stomach?

Try not to worry if you wake up on your back or stomach in the middle of the night. It’s common to change positions while you are sleeping. Occasionally sleeping on your side or belly while you are pregnant isn't likely to harm you or your baby. If you do wake up on your back or stomach, just gently roll back over to your side and go back to sleep.

Tips to Sleep More Comfortably During Pregnancy

Sleep can be pretty elusive during pregnancy. Here are a few tips to help you sleep more comfortably:  

  • Use a pregnancy pillow: A full-length pregnancy pillow can help you get more comfortable so that you can fall asleep more easily. Unlike standard bed pillows, pregnancy pillows provide support to the hips, back, knees, and abdomen. Pregnancy pillows can also encourage you to sleep on your side. These pillows can help prevent you from rolling over onto your back or stomach.

  • Consider a mattress topper: If you are pregnant, you may need extra cushioning to ease the pain and aches caused by fluctuating hormones and the strain of carrying more weight. A mattress topper can help. Choose one that is made with memory foam. Memory foam is ideal when you are pregnant because it conforms to your body and helps relieve pressure points.

  • Get a wedge pillow if you have heartburn: Heartburn is especially common during pregnancy. That’s because your growing stomach causes acids to flow back up into your esophagus. This results in an unpleasant burning sensation, which can interrupt sleep. To deal with this issue, buy a wedge pillow. There are some made especially for pregnancy. 

  • Keep your room slightly cool: It can be common to overheat during pregnancy. This can lead to restlessness and make it nearly impossible to sleep. The ideal sleeping temperature is between 60 to 67° F. So, set your thermostat at that temperature. Make sure you wear breathable night clothes and consider cooling sheets made especially for hot sleepers. 

  • Practice bedtime yoga: Dim the lights and do a gentle prenatal yoga routine before bed that is designed to relax you and ease muscle tension. This will make it easier for you to fall asleep.

  • Create a relaxing pregnancy bedtime routine: A bedtime routine can include things like reading before bed, taking a warm bath, or winding down with a pleasant scent like chamomile. As part of your bedtime routine, you might turn off your phone and other electronic devices. A relaxing bedtime routine will help you feel more calm, which can make it easier to find a comfortable sleeping position and fall asleep.

  • Talk to your doctor: If you have concerns or questions about the best and safest way to sleep while you are pregnant, make an appointment with your obstetrician or midwife. They can best guide you based on your specific needs during pregnancy.

Sleeping Positions and Pregnancy  

It can be challenging to find the right sleeping position when you have a growing baby bump. Sleeping on your left side during pregnancy can help you find a night of more restful sleep. Besides finding a more comfortable sleeping position, you can also try a pregnancy pillow, a comforting nighttime routine, or cooling sheets to sleep better.  


Written by

Georgia Austin

Professionally trained copywriter, editor, and content marketing strategist with over 7 years of experience—working with brands like Nike, Siemens, Toshiba, Tommy Hilfiger, Culture Trip, and Klook.

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