Right and Wrong Sleeping Positions during Pregnancy

One of the most asked questions asked by expecting mothers is all about Right and Wrong Sleeping Positions during Pregnancy. Sleeping with a new life in your body could be quite skeptical. We’ve listed month-wise Sleeping Positions during Pregnancy in this article. Let’s start with the Do’s and Dont’s of the Sleeping Positions during Pregnancy.

Expecting a baby? Congratulations on the good news. Your journey to motherhood has just begun, and the experience is totally new to you. As your precious little one is growing inside you, this phase is set to bring about a plethora of changes in your life. Let’s learn about Sleeping Positions during Pregnancy.

Nausea, morning sickness all are common knowledge. But what you might be totally unprepared for is the sleepless nights that await you. Take it easy. Mother Nature has designed it that way with a number of hormonal changes required for your body to nurture a new life. Following correct Sleeping Positions during Pregnancy is very important for healthy mother-children health.

Pregnancy is changing you.

With pregnancy starting to show signs on your body, you will find a whole set of new issues to deal with like morning sickness, heartburn, frequent urination, lower back pain, changes in the sleep cycle, and reduced sleep.

The hormone levels in your body change, and during pregnancy, the placenta begins to produce the chronic human gonadotropin (HCG), which is responsible for nausea in the first trimester. Fortunately, its levels plummet during the second and third trimester and give you relief from nausea. As the fetus goes through its prenatal development, and your body begins to play with the hormones necessary to support its growth, you will have a multitude of troubles to deal alongside.

(Also Read: Gir Cow Ghee Benefits )

Reduced sleep is common during pregnancy might be due to several reasons like changes in the sleep cycle, frequent urination, heartburn, or even uncomfortable sleeping positions. Whichever stage of pregnancy you are in, 9 hours of sleep is recommended to stay healthy and to ensure a safe pregnancy. So make sure that you catch up on the sleep deficit whenever possible.

How do you get good sleep during pregnancy? Which is the ideal position to sleep while pregnant? Side, front, or back. Read on to understand more about the correct sleeping positions during pregnancy and some helpful tips to follow for a good sleep.

Some common doubts about sleeping positions: Pregnancy comes with a zillion doubts. Here are a few answers to your common doubts on Sleeping Positions during the Pregnancy.

Sleeping Positions during the Pregnancy
Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy

Not all sleep positions are safe for you and your growing baby. Sleeping on the back should be totally avoided during pregnancy. It might be fine during the first trimester, but as your pregnancy progresses and the baby grows, the abdomen and uterus become heavy, putting pressure on the back, spine, and blood vessels.

The best sleeping position throughout the pregnancy is sleep on the side (SOS). If you can sleep on the left side, it is still better as the left side increases the flow of blood and nutrients to the placenta. Sleeping on one side the whole night is definitely going to be uncomfortable. Feel free to rotate your positions if required. If your pregnancy is high-risk, it is best to consult a doctor to know more.

I slept on my back accidentally in the night. Could it harm my baby?

Don’t panic if you find yourself accidentally sleeping on the back. The back sleeping position is fine during your first trimester, but the practice should be discontinued as your pregnancy progresses since it could cause unwanted health issues.

As the months go by, your baby’s weight increases, and especially by the fifth month, your uterus would have become really big. Sleeping on the back at this stage can cause the uterus to put pressure on the inferior vena cava, the blood vessel that carries blood back to your heart. So with the back sleeping position, you might actually be restricting the blood flow to you and your baby.

With this position, you might get dizziness, vertigo, low blood pressure, muscle pain, and hemorrhoids. But accidentally sleeping on the back for 2 or 3 hours shouldn’t cause any harm. Though research is still unclear on the time duration that is safe, your body is the best doctor. It will tell you when it is uncomfortable through signs like breathing trouble or a faster heartbeat.

The position that you go to sleep is important, and not the position you might switch to during sleep as we don’t have any control over this and discomfort might actually make you flip back. The way you go to sleep is usually the longest position you are going to hold during the night.

Can I sleep on my stomach during pregnancy?

There is nothing wrong with that. Sleeping on the stomach is not going to affect your baby in any way. It is well protected inside. During the first trimester, when your baby bump is still small, you might find it normal to sleep on the stomach. As the bump grows, needless to say, it is going to be uncomfortable and impossible. But if you find yourself lying on your stomach occasionally, you need not worry as it wouldn’t harm your baby in any way.

I’m used to sleeping on my right side. Can I continue this during my pregnancy? I’m especially concerned about the safety of my baby.

Another common doubt that an expecting mother can have. Traditional wisdom says to sleep on your left side, and this is supported by modern medicine as well. The inferior vena cava is on the right side, and by sleeping on the right, you could be restricting the blood flow.

But recent research suggests that there is no need to worry as there is no conclusive evidence to associate the right-side sleeping with reduced blood flow. Choose whichever side you are comfortable with. However, the left is always the most preferred. Evidence associating sleeping position on the right side with stillbirth or other defects for the baby is again not conclusive.

Anyway, it is impossible to sleep for extended periods on one side. The position would become uncomfortable and cause sores. Flip over to the other side as necessary.

Can my sleeping position harm my unborn baby?

Research has identified links between stillbirth and sleeping positions. Sleeping on the back has been found to be associated with 2.3 times increased risk of stillbirth compared to sleeping on the side. It is also found that when women sleep on their back, especially during the late stage of pregnancy, the babies are less active and had changes in heart-rate patterns.

Though the evidence is not conclusive, it shouldn’t be ignored either. The reduced blood flow due to the uterine pressure could be the reason to affect the baby. However, studies do not identify any big difference in the left and right positions. Both these positions do not harm the baby, and you can alter between the sides for comfort.

How can I prevent myself from sleeping on the back?

If you find yourself sleeping on your back often during pregnancy, you can follow these simple tips to promote side sleeping.

Prevent sleeping on your back often during pregnancy
Prevent sleeping on your back often during pregnancy
  • Try keeping pillows behind you. This might not prevent back sleeping completely, but it will definitely make you feel uncomfortable and prevent you from sleeping for long hours on your back.
  • Tie your long hair in a bun. This can also make sleeping on the back for a longer while uncomfortable.

I’m carrying twins. Which is the ideal sleeping position for me?

Twin pregnancy accelerates the common pregnancy issues like back pain, heartburn, and breathing difficulties. If you are carrying twins, it is highly recommended that you avoid sleeping on your back. The pressure your uterus exerts on the blood vessels will be doubled in this case. Strictly follow a side sleeping position throughout your pregnancy.

Why is my normal sleeping position becoming uncomfortable?

During pregnancy, women find that most sleeping positions are uncomfortable in one way or the other. The host of changes that happen due to pregnancy are responsible for this.

  • Increased size of the abdomen – One of the biggest changes that pregnancy brings to your body is a growing tummy making it difficult to hold a sleep position for long.
  • Backache – Growing pressure on your lower back can cause backaches. This might keep you awake at night and make sleeping on your back difficult. These back pains should not be a cause of concern and resolve on it own post-pregnancy. However, around 1 % of women might suffer from a rare case of spinal disc herniation, causing extreme back pain and might require medical advice.
  • Breathing difficulty – Sleeping on the back can put pressure on your internal organs and lead to breathing difficulty and disturbed sleep.
  • Heartburn – If you suffer from heartburn, lying down on a straight level will only aggravate it. You might need to try slightly elevated positions to find your comfort zone.
    Most of these issues can be resolved by following the right sleeping position.

Sleeping positions during the 1st trimester of pregnancy

During the first trimester, make sleep your priority. Sleep whenever you can, to avoid fatigue. Daytime naps should also be added to your schedule. The ideal time to nap would be between 2 and 4 PM. Rather than a 2- hour long sleep, try breaking it into two naps of 30 minutes duration. Cutting down on the water intake after 6 PM can help to reduce the bathroom visits in the night. You will also need to start adjusting your sleep positions according to your changing body.

These are the best sleeping positions recommended during your first trimester for better sleep.

In this section, we will cover

  • Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy 1st Month

  • Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy 2nd Month

  • Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy 3rd Month

Sleeping on the side

Side sleeping is safe throughout the pregnancy. You can choose a left or right side as per your comfort level with the left side being the most preferred. However, sleeping on the right side might worsen that nasty heartburn, and you might also put pressure on your liver. So it is recommended to stick to the left side for the most part.

The left side can be considered as the ideal sleeping position. But, sleeping for long on one side could become uncomfortable. Feel free to switch the sides and sleep well.

Sleeping on the back

Though not a recommended position, sleeping on your back is fine in the first trimester. Your bump has not grown big enough to cause any discomfort. Still, since you should avoid this position during the later stages, the best thing would be to come out of the habit early.

If heartburn is keeping you awake in the night, you can try sleeping on the back using a few pillows as support to prop you up to a half-sitting position.

Is sleep still evading you after trying all these positions? You can give the cushions a chance.

Place a cushion between your knees and lie on your left side, keeping your knees bent a little. A pillow can also be used to prop up your stomach a bit.

Finding it difficult to breathe while sleeping? Keep a pillow under you and raise the chest a bit. You will feel a lot better.

Sleeping positions during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy

Sleeping Positions during the Pregnancy
Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy

So, you are through with the first three months of morning sickness, heartburn, and bad sleep. Now your hormone levels are coming back to normal, and you feel more settled. The morning sickness is beginning to fade away, and you are comfortable with your changing body. You can feel your baby and maybe busy finding baby names.

Unfortunately, your battle with sleep still continues to the second trimester as well. A few women might be lucky to start getting good sleep at this stage.

In this section, we will cover

  • Sleeping Positions during the Pregnancy 4th Month

  • Sleeping Positions during the Pregnancy 5th Month

  • Sleeping Positions during the Pregnancy 6th Month

What can affect your sleep during the second trimester? You might start developing leg cramps during the second trimester. Heartburn and indigestion might continue to plague you. Congestion, weird dreams, and sleep apnea are a few of the other common issues that disturb sleep. And one of the biggest reasons could be your baby becoming active inside and giving you those occasional kicks in the night.

Here are some of the safe sleeping positions you can stick to during your second trimester.

Sleep on your left side

As always, the left side is the best. This advice is for you to remember throughout the pregnancy. During the second trimester, the left side is even better because it increases the blood flow to the placenta, and your baby will get all the nutrients it needs. You can lie down with your knees up so that the pressure is on your hips and pelvic region. If you have heartburn, you can use a pillow to elevate your chest. For backache, try keeping a pillow under the tummy.

Sleep on your right side

Maybe at times, you can try the right side. Continuous sleeping on the left side might make it sore. Restrict the right-side sleeping position to the minimum and switch back to the left side whenever you feel comfortable.

Strictly avoid these positions in the second trimester:

Sleeping on the back: This position might have been fine in the first trimester. But not any longer. As your pregnancy is progressing, back sleeping is a definite no-no. Your baby is growing, and the abdomen is becoming heavy. So the blood vessels and intestine will take the pressure while you sleep on the back. It will result in poor blood flow to the baby, and you might develop hemorrhoids, backaches, low blood pressure, and breathing problems.

Sleeping on the tummy:  Your baby bump is growing, and this position will become highly uncomfortable. During the first trimester, it was perfectly fine, but not during the second or third trimesters.

Sleeping positions during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy

It’s the third trimester. Your baby is almost here. The excitement of welcoming the new addition and anxieties about pregnancy are both playing on your emotions. Of course, physically, you are more or less settled with your body and happy flaunting the baby bump. But sleep is still a challenge. The third trimester is usually the most challenging phase in pregnancy for getting good sleep.

During the third trimester, your baby bump is quite large and puts pressure on blood vessels and lower back. Regardless of the sleeping position you choose, the sleep issues persist. The weight of your stomach puts pressure on your lower back, causing backaches and leg cramps that might keep you awake at night. Avoid heavy lifting and standing for long periods during your third trimester.

In this section, we will cover

  • Sleeping Positions during the Pregnancy 7th Month

  • Sleeping Positions during the Pregnancy 8th Month

  • Sleeping Positions during the Pregnancy 9th Month

Leg cramps can get really painful during the third trimester due to mineral imbalances in the body. Your growing nutrition requirements might cause low calcium levels and aggravate the issue. If you are suffering from leg cramps, try to avoid carbonated drinks and take calcium supplements as advised by your doctor. You can also try this simple exercise to ward off leg cramps. Keep your legs straight and flex the foot upwards. Repeat this several times before you go to bed.

You might also develop restless leg syndrome due to iron or folic acid deficiency, and this can reduce the quality of your sleep drastically. Many start snoring during their third trimester of pregnancy due to congestion. Snoring could also be because of high blood pressure, and it might be a good idea to get it checked if you have started snoring.

Do not try to force yourself to sleep. If you have difficulty sleeping, get up, and engage yourself in some relaxing activity like reading a book or taking a warm bath.

Tips on the best sleeping positions during your third trimester

  • Stick to sleeping on the left side as far as possible. This position is best for you and your baby. It reduces the stress on your kidneys and liver while improving the blood flow to your heart and the baby.
  • You can switch to the right side for comfort. Not to worry, it will not harm your baby. But try not to hold this position for long as the left is the ideal position.
  • Sleeping on the back or on the stomach should be strictly avoided. These positions could harm you or your baby at this stage.

Sleep aids that can help you get good sleep during pregnancy

During your pregnancy, the one thing you long for most is deep, relaxing sleep. Stick to the recommended sleep positions; you can also try some good sleep aids like the ones mentioned here to help you during the nights.

  • Pillows– These are your best friends for a good sleep during pregnancy. Pillows can give great belly and back support. While sleeping on the side, you can tuck in a pillow between your knees to support the lower back. Do you fear that you might accidentally sleep on your back? There is a quick fix for this. You can keep a pillow behind your back so that you don’t roll over.
    Regular pillows should work fine. However, for added comfort, it is recommended to try those special pillows available in maternity stores. These pillows come in a variety of shapes like body length, U-shape, and C-shape and also have wedges for supporting your belly during side-sleep.
  • Heartburn – Indigestion, and acidity build up during pregnancy, and heartburn is a common trouble that pregnant women face. Reduce the heartburn by avoiding heavy foods before bedtime. Another effective tip is to sleep in a semi-reclined position. You can use an extra pillow to find a comfortable and elevated position.
  • Warm milk – Drinking a glass of warm milk before going to bed can give you a good sleep by raising the serotonin in the brain. Additionally, milk is loaded with calcium and other nutrients to keep you and your baby healthy.
  • Protein-rich snacks – If your sleep is getting disturbed due to bad dreams or headaches, you might be running low on blood sugar. Many women develop low blood sugar during pregnancy, which usually resolves by itself after delivery. If you have been tested for low sugar levels, you can include protein-rich snacks in your diet. Before you go to bed, snack on high protein foods like egg, milk, and a sandwich or peanut butter. This can also help to avoid hunger pangs and nausea.
  • Medications– All types of sleep medications should be avoided during pregnancy. Still, if you have persistent issues with sleep, consult your doctor who might prescribe you some safe medications. Do not self medicate or try any herbal remedies.

Here is one of the recommended Sleeping Pillow for better pregnancy sleep. You can buy it on Amazon and get free home delivery.

Buy Sleeping Pillow on Amazon 

Relaxation techniques to try for a good sleep during pregnancy

At times pregnancy and its issues can get on your nerves. Stress and anxiety could be the main culprits behind your poor sleep. You can try a few of the relaxation techniques given below to get better sleep.

  • Regular yoga – Many women have doubts about the safety of yoga during pregnancy. Yoga is totally safe to practice during pregnancy. It will help you relax and keep you flexible and ready for the pregnancy. There are many prenatal classes where you can practice the right yoga poses and stretches for deep relaxation. Once you learn the poses, you can practice it safely in the comfort of your home. This can also give you a deep and satisfying sleep.
  • Massage – It is a great way to relax your tired muscles. Rather than full body massage, it is safer to get a foot, hand, or neck massage. Try some affordable parlors in your area to get a good massage.
  • Deep breathing – This technique can relax your muscles and lower the heart rate. You get better control of your emotions and deeper sleep. The advantage is that once you master the basics of deep breathing, you can do it anytime according to your convenience.
  • Meditation – As already said, stress can take a big toll on your sleep. Regular practice of meditation during your pregnancy can keep your mind calm and give you a deep sleep.
  • Guided imagery technique – This is a highly effective technique to relieve stress. You can ask for guidance or even do it on your own. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a relaxing environment. It can be accompanied by music or positive words from another person. Focus on taking slow breaths. You can visualize yourself in a beautiful place with sounds and colors to make you happy.
  • Rest – A simple technique is to take adequate rest. However, busy your schedule is, ensure that you keep aside one or two hours a day to take some quality rest.
  • A small walk – Go outside and get some fresh air in the evenings. Take a stroll in the park or just sit outside, enjoying nature. This can take your mind off any negative thoughts and worries you have on your pregnancy.
  • Share your feelings – Open communication with your partner, friends, family members, and the doctor is the best relaxation you can find. Talk to them about any anxieties or nagging worries that you might be having. This will give you a big relief and possibly a better sleep.

During pregnancy, you are advised to pay heed to the changes that your body undergoes. The above tips are to help you settle down into the ideal sleeping position during pregnancy and to get a good sleep. Though the positions need not be strictly followed during the first trimester, you should stick on to side sleeping position during the second and third trimester. Do not worry too much about occasional wrong positions; it is not going to harm your baby in any way. Take things easy, and keep your mind calm and relaxed. Follow your doctor’s advice, and do not forget to take your prenatal supplements.

We hope our in-depth article covered all your queries in relation to Sleeping Positions during Pregnancy. Do share the article and let other expecting mothers about the Sleeping Positions during  Pregnancy.

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About Dhruv Athi, Nutritionist, Dietician

Dhruv Athi is a Licensed Nutritionist based in India. Dhruv is a Health Care Professional & Diet Consultant with a successful track record of helping people cure their ailments with natural and alternative means of healing medicine. In a nutshell, Dhruv offers every assistance for your Health-related concerns and Goals.

4 thoughts on “Right and Wrong Sleeping Positions during Pregnancy”

  1. Hi to all, the contents present at this site are truly remarkable for people experience, well, keep up
    the nice work fellows.

  2. Thanks this article really helped my sister’s sleeping posture during her pregnancy. If was very difficult for her to sleep but now she is feeling amazing and sleeping like-a baby.

  3. This is really helpful. just shared this sleeping position article with my sister who is due on October. Thanks.


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