It’s probably no surprise to you that pregnant women are tired – often! It’s hard growing a human! But, it’s also hard finding a comfortable position to truly promote great sleeping habits and replenish your body (and soul). Especially if you used to be a stomach or a back sleeper. Experts have been weighing in for years and there are reasons why a pregnant mama should (or shouldn’t) adopt certain sleeping positions. So, what’s the best way to sleep while pregnant?
Sleeping Positions While Pregnant
There are several ways to sleep, however as your pregnancy progresses, some positions may no longer be comfortable, or become less recommended. Why is this important? Because sleep is essential to restore your body, promote healing and improve growth and development. You want to sleep in the best position to help you achieve the best night’s sleep, with minimal effects on you or your baby.
Side sleeping, especially on your left side, is the desired way to sleep while pregnant. While the right side doesn’t need to be avoided completely, it can cause increased pressure on your liver. Other benefits to LEFT side sleeping include:
- Optimal circulation, delivering nutrient rich blood to the baby more efficiently.
- Protects the liver and kidneys, allowing them to function more effectively to reduce waste products, reducing swelling in hands, feet and ankles.
Generally, stomach sleeping is OK until the end of your first trimester. However, keep in mind that when sleeping on your belly, you need to turn your head to one side. This somewhat twisted position can lead to tight scalenes (muscles at the front of your neck). Why does this matter? Well, the subclavian artery and the brachial plexus nerves all pass through the scalenes and pressure on these structures can lead to numbness, tingling and altered sensations in the wrists and hands.
Sleeping on your back can generally be tolerated until around your 5th month of pregnancy. After this point, the growing placenta/uterus/fetus exerts increased pressure on your back, aorta and inferior vena cava. This can lead to back pain, decreased circulation throughout your body (and baby’s), dizziness/light headedness and lowered blood pressure. The pressure your intestines can also lead to altered digestion and GI issues.
Tips to a Better Night’s Sleep (on your Side)
In addition to sleeping on your left side (preferably), here are some other tips to help maximize your sleep! Don’t worry though if you wake up in a different position, simply readjust and drift back off to sleep.
- If you have been having shortness of breath when sleeping, try adding a pillow under your side to elevate your chest.
- If you have been having issues with acid reflux, try placing low blocks under the head of your bed to elevate it or use pillows to prop yourself up and help keep acid from creeping up.
- If you have been having some hip pain (trochanteric bursitis) from laying on your side, try shifting your upper knee forward slightly and adding pillow underneath to take pressure off bottom hip.
- Use a supportive pregnancy pillow (see our favorites below).
Here are a few pregnancy support pillows (and a wedge) that we like to help keep you comfortable so you sleep better. Try and find one that has the potential to elevate her upper body (to help with reflux), supports your knees and belly.
Want to learn more about what to expect during your pregnancy? Are you having some back pain that has been keeping you away from your activities? Check out our blogs below!
- How do pregnant women get adjusted?
- How to reduce low back pain during your pregnancy?
- What is the best baby registry?
- Baby registry check list: What you really need.