Guide to the best sleeping positions while pregnant

Sleep can be a real sore point during pregnancy. From battling first trimester insomnia, to getting up a billion times to pee in the night, to wondering how the hell to position your baby bump – you may be left wondering why they don’t run classes on how to sleep while pregnant. (Wait…. DO they?! *Googles* Nope.) 

To help alleviate your discomfort and put your mind at ease, we’ve gathered some information on the best sleeping positions while pregnant, along with bonus tips for better sleep – hooray!

Mama, you need your sleep

Your body works incredibly hard when making a baby. It needs to rest and regain energy. You’ll probably feel every fiber of your body longing for sleep while you’re pregnant (especially in your first trimester), and it’s so important to listen to this!

Sleep deprivation during pregnancy has been linked to pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, longer, more difficult labor, and a higher risk of unplanned cesarean births. So the moral of the story is: You need sleep. You just do – for your sake and your baby’s.

Sleeping while pregnant is a pain (literally)

We get it. Sleep isn’t always easy in pregnancy. Whether this is your first time, or you’ve done it a few times already, every pregnancy is different. 

You might be dealing with:

  • Heartburn – Which often flares up at night, when you’re lying down, or after cheeky late-night snackies to keep your hunger at bay.
  • Insomnia – Experienced by 1 in 10 women in the first trimester. Ugh.
  • Difficulty getting comfy – Perhaps you’ve purchased every form of pillow under the sun to try and find the illusive ‘best way to sleep when pregnant’. This is OK.
  • Pregnancy pain – Be it back pain, pelvic pain or lightning crotch.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome – A condition that leaves you compelled to wriggle about, and is a very viable reason to kick your audaciously snoring partner in the back.

Finding the best position to sleep while pregnant can help you tackle some of these issues, while ensuring a safe environment for your growing baby (who will no doubt want to do somersaults while you’re sleeping).

So what’s the best way to sleep while pregnant?

The American Pregnancy Association recommends the ‘SOS’ sleeping position for pregnant women. (If that isn’t a literal cry for help, we don’t know what is.) It stands for ‘sleep on side’, and is suggested because it puts the least amount of pressure on your veins and organs. It’s also particularly good for circulation, with some studies suggesting that your left is specifically the best side to sleep on when pregnant.

Not feeling SOS? Arm yourself with an array of pillows to experiment with what’s comfy for you. Bending your knees and placing a pillow between your legs can help relieve pressure on your back, and a one under your abdomen can help reduce pain.

Sleeping positions to avoid

Sleeping on your back while pregnant

Can you sleep on your back during pregnancy? Experts advise against this in your third trimester. Talk to your doctor about what they recommend, as some will say to avoid it after 20 weeks. The main reason for this is that sleeping on your back while pregnant puts pressure on a major artery called the ‘inferior vena cava’. This can reduce blood flow by up to 80% and affect your baby’s heart rate.

Don’t stress out if you wake up in the night on your back. This doesn’t necessarily spell disaster, and doctors generally aren’t concerned about it. Just roll onto your side again and continue snoozing.

Sleeping on stomach while pregnant

In the early days of pregnancy you may be able to comfortably sleep on your stomach, and this is A-OK to do. But as your bump grows, it’ll get uncomfortable – guaranteed. 

If you miss the glorious days of tummy-sleeping, you could always try sleeping on a special pillow with a hole in the middle for your bump.

Other tips for how to sleep when pregnant

  • Eat and drink accordingly – Only you can really suss out what your pregnant bod needs in terms of nutrition and hydration. If you’re dealing with heartburn, it may be best to steer clear of fizzy drinks, spicy foods or large meals. If caffeine seems to hype you up, cut back on coffee and/or chocolate.

  • Improve sleep hygiene – Keep your bedtime routine consistent every night so your body gets into the habit. Try to keep bedroom activities limited to sleep and sex.

  • Calm down – Pregnancy can be stressful AF. If you’re feeling it, try meditation, reading, journaling or light yoga before bed to clear your mind of all the clutter.

  • See your doctor for help – If you’re really not getting enough sleep, why not check in with your doctor? They can make sure nothing else is going on, and give you some extra tips, supplements or medications to assist with getting a good sleep.

Remember, you really need those z’s! And you deserve them. Growing a baby ain’t easy.

Read next: What is lightning crotch? (AKA Why does my pelvis hurt like hell?)

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