Many women find themselves wondering how best to sleep when pregnant. Sleep issues are common during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, when finding a comfortable sleeping position can be challenging. Some pregnant women may also worry that certain body positions might affect their health or that of the fetus.
Some strategies can help pregnant women get better sleep. In this article, we look at sleeping positions to try or avoid and safe to use during pregnancy.
Best sleeping positions
During the first trimester, it is safe for a woman to sleep in whatever position she feels comfortable in, whether this is on her back, side, or stomach. Any combination of the above positions is also fine.
The uterus has not grown large enough to interfere with sleep. However, hormonal changes, nighttime hunger, nausea, and other pregnancy symptoms may make sleep more difficult.
As a woman reaches the second and third trimesters, it is ideal to sleep on the left side. Being in this position maximizes blood flow to the uterus without putting pressure on the liver. Women who experience hip or back pain during pregnancy may find that placing a pillow or two between the knees or bending the knees during sleep can help provide relief.
A woman who prefers to sleep on her right side can adopt this position instead. There is no research showing that this is dangerous.
Many pregnant women worry that sleeping on their stomach will harm the developing fetus. However, the uterus protects the fetus well, and there is no reason to avoid sleeping on the stomach during the first trimester. As pregnancy progresses, most women find that sleeping on the stomach becomes impossible or difficult.
For women who still prefer stomach sleeping or who occasionally wake up on their front, there is no need to worry. Sleeping on the stomach will not harm the baby.
Some pregnant women may find that using several sleeping pillows allows them to sleep on their stomach. It is fine to use these devices and perfectly safe to wake up lying on the stomach.
In the third trimester — from the 28th week of pregnancy onward — sleeping on the back puts pressure on the main blood vessels that deliver blood to the uterus. This pressure may decrease the oxygen supply to the fetus. It can also increase unpleasant symptoms, such as dizziness and heartburn, in the woman.