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Sleeping, especially during later phases of pregnancy, can become an issue for many pregnant moms. Not only are you waking up more from pressure on your bladder, finding a comfortable position can be difficult especially if you typically sleep on your stomach or back. Check out the following ideas for sleeping positions to help you get a better night’s rest.

Disclaimer

Although I am a physical therapist by profession, I am not your physical therapist.  This information is for educational purposes only, it does not constitute as medical advice and does not establish any kind of therapist-patient relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information.

Sleeping on your Back

Commonly women are told to avoid sleeping on their back during the second and third trimesters due to potential complications such as backaches, dizziness, low blood pressure, hemorrhoids, and decreased circulation to your heart and to the baby. One study shows avoiding sleeping on your back after week 28 decreases your risk of stillbirth by approximately 5.8%.

If you’re having a hard time staying off your back, don’t stress. Most women roll around throughout the night and don’t stay in one position for too long. You can put a pillow or wedge pillow behind your back to prevent rolling flat on your back as you move.

If you really enjoy sleeping on your back, sleeping in a reclined position can be a good alternate. If you grab some wedge pillows to prop yourself up at a 45-degree angle or sleep in a recliner, you can get yourself more comfortable.

Sleeping on your Stomach

As your stomach grows through pregnancy, it can become more uncomfortable to sleep on your stomach. Most women can’t sleep on their stomachs beyond 16-18 weeks because of the discomfort. You can find some pregnancy pillows that allow space for your stomach if sleeping on your stomach is the only way you can get a good night’s rest.

Sleeping on Your Side

Sleeping on your side is generally the most recommended position during pregnancy for both comfort and health. It is further recommended to sleep on your left side versus your right for improved blood flow, but a study showed no significant difference between right and left side sleeping for risk of stillbirth, a small-for-gestational-age newborn, or gestational hypertensive disorders. Get yourself comfortable with plenty of pillows (or a pregnancy pillow) to help you sleep through the night.

Use Pillows to Support your Body

Using pillows through all stages of pregnancy can greatly improve your comfort with sleeping. You can find pregnancy pillows in a U or C shape that can support your belly, back, and body to improve alignment and improve your comfort. You can even use your own pillow and use a U-shaped pillow upside down for body support if it’s uncomfortable on your neck.

If you’re using separate pillows you’ll want pillows in the following positions to increase comfort:

  • Place a pillow between your knees all the way to your ankles to improve the position at your hips and low back
  • Place a pillow or wedge behind your back to give your back support and prevent you from rolling onto your back in your sleep
  • Place a pillow or wedge under your belly to support the extra weight of your abdomen

Sleep Hygiene Tips

  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Blue light emitted from electornics suppresses melatonin production which keeps you awake. Some phones have night time settings to reduce blue light.
  • Limit liquid intake a few hours before going to bed, but make sure to get plenty of fluids through out the day
  • Avoid eating a large meal 3 hours before bed to reduce heartburn and digestion slows with sleeping
  • Exercise regularly (30 minutes a day, 5 days a week), but avoid exercising a few hours before bed

Resources

Best sleeping positions during pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/sleeping-positions-while-pregnant/. Published October 22, 2021. Accessed November 10, 2021.

Healthline. 2021. What Are the Best Sleeping Positions When You’re Pregnant?. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/sleeping-positions-in-pregnancy#The-takeaway> [Accessed 10 November 2021].

Silver RM, Hunter S, Reddy UM, et al. Prospective Evaluation of Maternal Sleep Position Through 30 Weeks of Gestation and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2019;134(4):667-676. doi:10.1097/aog.0000000000003458