Finding the best position to sleep while pregnant will be the difference between nightly discomfort and insomnia, and a chance at restful sleep.
You may have slept in the same position your whole life, but while you’re expecting, it might not cut it anymore.
There are all kinds of reasons you may have discomfort while trying to sleep, and we’ll cover them all, and then share the best positions to sleep in during pregnancy.
Why it's difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position while pregnant
As you are likely already aware, pregnancy and sleep do not go well together. There are the obvious reasons you have trouble finding comfortable sleeping positions, such as your growing belly.
But, there are plenty more reasons you may toss and turn. These include back, hip, and knee pain, shortness of breath, heartburn, and insomnia in general.
What sleeping positions should I avoid during pregnancy?
There are some positions that you should avoid sleeping in, because they can be harmful to your pregnancy. These are positions many people have grown accustomed to, but the sooner you can start making the switch to a more optimal position, the easier time you’ll have when your second and third trimesters roll around.
Avoid sleeping on your stomach
Despite being more comfortable during the first trimester, sleeping on your stomach should be avoided.
By the time your second and third trimester roll around, this won’t be possible anyway, and the sooner you can get accustomed to a more ideal sleeping position the better.
Avoid sleeping on your back
We also recommend avoiding sleeping on your back while pregnant. With the changes in your hips and abdomen, sleeping on your back can cause pain and breathing issues.
It can also lead to issues with your digestive system, including heartburn or nausea. Along with that, sleeping on your back during pregnancy can lead to hemorrhoids, low blood pressure, and a low amount of blood and nutrition to your heart and baby.
When you sleep on your back, your growing uterus and baby put pressure on your intestines and vena cava. The vena cava is a main vein which is essential for transporting blood throughout your body.
Along with all this, some studies suggest that sleeping on your back can actually lead to serious issues with pregnancy complications. If you sleep on your back, you may be up to 5.8% more likely to experience stillbirth after 28 weeks.
Does this mean if you wake up in the middle of the night on your back that you are in trouble? Not necessarily, but you really should strive to prevent this. As we’ll explain later on, there are specific pillows that can help with this.
What is the best position to sleep while pregnant?
Without a doubt, the best position to sleep while pregnant is on your sides - ideally your left side.
Beyond just achieving comfort, there are reasons that this position is more optimal than others when it comes to your baby.
Sleeping on your left side is not only the most comfortable, but it also allows for maximum blood flow to your placenta and baby. This will lead to a healthier fetus, and thus a healthier baby.
While some people sleep very well naturally on their sides, others struggle. We have some tips to help make this position more comfortable, and kick your pregnancy insomnia to the curb for good.
How to make this position more comfortable
The recipe for comfort with this position is to keep your legs and knees bent with a pillow between your legs.
The biggest issue with sleeping on your sides is your knees lay against each other, causing back, hip, and knee pain. To prevent this, you can simply stick a pillow between your knees to bring your legs to a more balanced position.
In some instances, you may want to wrap your right arm (assuming you’re sleeping on your left side) around a pillow to prevent shoulder pain.
Dealing with heartburn
Its not uncommon to deal with heartburn as your pregnancy progresses. You can minimize this by avoiding certain foods, and avoiding food altogether within a few hours of bedtime.
But, even if you take all the right precautions, you may still deal with heartburn and nausea. To help cut back on this, prop your upper body up with a few pillows if possible.
Supporting your bump
Another reason sleeping on your side, or in general, during pregnancy can be difficult is because of your growing bump.
It will feel odd as your belly grows, and you’ll need something to support it to actually end up relaxing. You can achieve this by simply using a pillow. But, there are actually special pillows that help with a lot of the issues you are going to deal with in terms of finding a comfortable sleeping position.
Use a pregnancy pillow to maintain the best sleeping position while pregnant
If you find that using normal pillows isn’t cutting it, you can use a special pregnancy pillow to help you get more comfortable. This is one of the best pregnancy must haves for any expecting mothers.
These pillows not only support your knees, they also prevent you from rolling over either onto your stomach or your back in the middle of the night.
One of the biggest reasons expecting mothers love these pillows is because they also support your bump. By using a pregnancy pillow, you’ll enjoy your most comfortable sleep yet!
For more tips on how to get the best sleep while pregnant, the Moms who have been there, done that at Nurtured 9, have some essential remedies & rituals to help you ease your way into sweet dreams in their article "How To Get Better Sleep While Pregnant".
In their shop, you can even create an entire bundle dedicated just to sleep products, or choose one they've already made for you, like the Sleep Well Pregnancy Gift Box, featuring our bestselling Lavender Sleepy Lotion".