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  • Writer's pictureJessica Lagrone

Pregnancy Sleep Positions: Should you avoid sleeping on your back while pregnant?


pregnant woman lying on her back

Pregnancy is a time of great joy and excitement, but it can also bring many questions and uncertainties. One common question that often arises is whether or not it is safe for pregnant women to sleep on their backs. While some sources may recommend avoiding this sleep position in pregnancy, others offer a different perspective. What’s a mom to do? Below, we'll discuss recommended sleep positions, whether sleeping on your back is safe, and more.


What is the best sleep position during pregnancy?


It can be tricky to find a comfortable sleep position during pregnancy as your body changes and grows. However, experts generally recommend sleeping on your side during pregnancy, particularly on your left side. Apparently, lying on the left side is highly beneficial. Here’s why:


  • Sleeping on your left side during pregnancy increases blood flow to the uterus, placenta, and baby. This position allows the inferior vena cava (a large vein that carries deoxygenated blood from the lower body to the heart) to remain unrestricted, preventing compression and ensuring optimal blood circulation to the fetus.

  • The left side also promotes better kidney function by allowing for improved drainage of fluids and waste products from the body. This can help reduce swelling in the ankles, feet, and hands.

  • Lastly, sleeping on the left side can alleviate pressure on the liver and uterus, potentially minimizing discomfort for the mother.


That said, sleeping on your right side during pregnancy is totally okay, too, if you feel more comfortable. As long as you're relaxed and getting a good night's rest, any side is OK!


Can I sleep on my back while pregnant?


While there are theories that sleeping flat on your back can cause pregnancy complications in the second and third trimesters, there are currently no studies proving this point. Generally speaking, sleeping on your back during pregnancy is safe, especially in early pregnancy or the first trimester. However, as you progress into late pregnancy, sleeping on your back tends to become more uncomfortable, so mothers are likely to avoid this position simply due to discomfort. 


What if I wake up on my back during the night?


There is no need to panic if you wake up on your back in the middle of the night. Simply change positions by turning to either the left or right side. You'll likely change positions in the night anyway if you become too uncomfortable. We recommend listening to your body and prioritizing your comfort during this baby-growing time so you can get a good night’s sleep (while you can)!


Can I sleep on my stomach while pregnant?


Yes, at least for a little while. Sleeping on your stomach is okay, particularly in the early stages of pregnancy. However, as your baby grows and your belly expands, sleeping on your stomach may become increasingly uncomfortable. Honestly—you’ll likely avoid it because it’ll no longer be relaxing. It is generally recommended that pregnant women avoid sleeping on their stomachs in the later stages of pregnancy to reduce the risk of putting pressure on the baby or causing discomfort. 


Tips for Sleeping Safely on Your Back While Pregnant


During pregnancy, finding safe and comfortable sleeping positions is important to ensure your and your baby's well-being. Sleeping on your back may be the most comfortable position for you, as it helps to distribute the weight evenly and reduces pressure on your back and hips. To sleep safely on your back while pregnant, here are some tips:


  • Place a pillow under your knees to take some pressure off your lower back. This can also help with circulation and may help you sleep.

  • Use a pregnancy pillow to support your bump and keep you in a comfortable position throughout the night.

  • Use pillows to prop yourself up a bit so you're slightly upright.


We highly recommend talking with your doctor if you need clarification on sleeping on your back due to potential risks. Ultimately, we want you to enjoy a peaceful night's sleep while keeping you and your baby safe.


Comfortable Pregnancy Sleeping Positions


Finding a comfortable sleeping position during pregnancy can be challenging as your body undergoes changes. It is important to prioritize sleep and rest during this time to ensure your well-being and the health of your baby.


  • While sleeping on your side, place pillows between your knees, under your belly, and behind your back for extra support and comfort.

  • If you don't want to use or buy a bunch of single pillows, there are these fantastic things called pregnancy pillows. They do a great job alleviating pressure on the lower back and hips.

  • If you have heartburn or shortness of breath, prop yourself up with pillows to make breathing easier.


Experiment with different positions to find what works best for you and allows you to get a good night's sleep. Remember, getting enough rest is crucial for a healthy pregnancy.


Conclusion


Whether or not to avoid lying flat on your back during pregnancy is a topic of debate. While some sources caution against it due to potential discomfort and reduced blood flow to the baby, others suggest that occasional back sleeping may be safe, especially earlier in pregnancy. We recommend checking in with your doctor if you need help with what to do. They can offer personalized guidance on sleep positions and recommendations tailored to your needs throughout your pregnancy journey.

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