Best Pregnancy Sleeping Positions

Last Updated January 5, 2024

Kristi Van Winkle Fact checked by Kristi Van Winkle

Sleeping during pregnancy is often referred to as an arduous task by many women. The sleep habits that you once adopted and became comfortable with tend to go down the drain, especially now that there are two lives at stake instead of one.

But worry not, for modern science, medical associations, and mothers from all over the world have joined forces and contributed quite heftily to the space of maternal sleep positions.

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This means that the questions you ponder, such as, "What is the best sleep position during pregnancy?" and "Which position should be avoided to keep the baby safe?" will all be answered right here, along with many, many more!

best sleeping positions during pregnancy

Can maternal sleep position affect pregnancy?

The short answer is, yes, it can. Sleeping positions will affect pregnant women. This is not something a to-be mother ignores.

Sleep deprivation is a hard-hitting factor for a lot of women. You will wake up more frequently throughout the night when you are pregnant because your sleep isn't as deep and rejuvenating as it usually is.

During pregnancy, all three trimesters are associated with irregular sleeping patterns, insomnia, poor sleep quality, and increased exhaustion throughout the day.

Additionally, numerous physiological shifts can compromise sleep for pregnant moms. These include varying hormone levels, alterations in body systems, and heightened stress levels.

Getting enough sleep is essential for both the mother and the developing baby. As a result of sleep deprivation, inflammation levels and the risk of cesarean delivery (C-section) increase during pregnancy. Labor may also get intense, becoming longer and more painful.

Inadequate sleep can also lead to premature birth, postpartum depression, and weight gain in the mother. What’s more, an elevated body mass index and high blood pressure among newborns have been recorded as a result of this.

Given all this, it shouldn't come as a surprise to learn that pregnancy is impacted by sleeping position. It is a measure of safety, ensuring the baby's health and a good night's sleep for the mother. And while we agree that it may become tedious after a while, staying educated on the best pregnancy sleeping positions and adopting them in bed is a priority.

pregnant woman finding it difficult to sleep

How much sleep does a woman need when pregnant?

Your sleep patterns will be quite fluctuant, which means you will need as much sleep as you can muster. The average number of hours that pregnant moms need to be asleep is around 7-9 hours a day. The following techniques can help you achieve this goal:

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  • Make sleep a priority. This is the best action you can take to take care of your body.
  • Take some time out during the day to rest, but try to avoid taking long naps.
  • During the late afternoon or early evening, take a stroll.
  • It is not advisable to eat before bedtime. Tea and coffee are also included here. Finish your meals two to three hours before you go to sleep.
  • Make the bedroom cozy. Get rid of unwanted distractions.
  • Take a bath, read, listen to music, or watch TV to unwind before bed.

reading before bed to unwind

How many sleep positions are available to pregnant women?

There are three basic positions available to an individual. These are: the side sleeping positions (left and right), sleeping on your back, and sleeping on your stomach.

Until around the 12 to 14-week gestation period, that is, till the end of the first trimester, you can sleep in any of these four positions you want. But it is recommended that you begin to practice lying on your side to be prepared.

Sleeping on your back may lead to problems later on, especially after week 28. The discomfort of sleeping on your stomach will also become too great once the third trimester starts, leaving you with only side sleeping as the best option.

What are the most and least comfortable sleeping positions during pregnancy?

Throughout the pregnancy period, up until the baby emerges, there are three stages that a mother must be aware of. These stages are known as the "three trimesters." Each stage has its own good and bad sleeping positions:

First trimester

From pregnancy week 1 to 12, the first of the three trimesters begins. This is when you find out that the family is going to expand by one. Or two. Or even eight, sometimes!

You'll start to have morning sickness by now. Changes in the body and frequent bathroom trips will cause sleep disturbances. The most common complaints by women during this period are heartburn, headaches, tender breasts, and sleep apnea. A slowdown in the digestive system also causes bloating and constipation.

Added to this is the fact that many women will try to conceal their pregnancy from others, leading to more stress and exhaustion. So, as hard as the toll that pregnancy takes on you will be, you must never sacrifice sleep.


Side-sleeping is a good position to sleep in during the first trimester. It helps to keep practicing this posture, too (if it isn't already preferred by you), because, in later stages of pregnancy, this becomes the handiest position of the lot.


The second best position during the first trimester is back-sleeping. To be honest, there isn't much of a difference when it comes to sleep positions in the first trimester. That said, enjoy sleeping on your back while you can right now. The other two trimesters do not favor this posture much.


While belly-sleeping is an accepted position during the first trimester, it is also the worst of the three postures. This is when you take into account that sleeping on your stomach is bad for everyone, not just pregnant women.

However, most women find that sleeping on their stomachs is quite uncomfortable once their baby bump starts to show. So, until then, adopting this posture once in a while will not hurt the pregnancy.

Second trimester

From pregnancy week 13 to 26, the second trimester begins. Sleep finds you much more easily here than it did previously.

The baby is too small to significantly disrupt your sleep, and stabilizing hormone levels gives you a welcome respite from morning sickness. In addition, your uterus is now farther from your bladder, which means fewer trips to the restroom.

Problems related to sleep are common in the second trimester as well. Leg cramps, headaches, nausea, swollen feet, indigestion, heartburn, strange dreams, and weight gain causing lower back pain are a few of the known issues. Sleep apnea and snoring may also become major factors affecting your sleep.

A higher risk of premature birth and preeclampsia (a high blood pressure disorder) is also associated with sleep apnea during this time.

Still, despite the issues that may be plaguing you, the second trimester is the best time to get some good sleep in.

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Side sleeping is considered the safest position during the second trimester. The placenta receives nutrients from this posture, and blood circulation in the body is unrestricted.

Using pillows and placing them around you will help you avoid rolling over onto your back or your stomach. You might find it easier to assume a more comfortable position if you use a wedge pillow, a full-length body pillow, or other pregnancy pillows for support.

If you suffer from heartburn, pillows can be used to raise your upper body. You can also put a pillow under your back if you have a severe backache. Additionally, bent knees with a pillow beneath them are also beneficial. This will assist in relieving pressure and improving hip and spine alignment.

pregnancy pillow for better sleep


Back-sleeping might not be ideal in the second trimester. Your growing baby bump may make lying on your back extremely uncomfortable.

The uterus is also positioned so that the inferior vena cava is weighed down. This can prevent blood flow and cause swelling in your legs and ankles. Even the circulation to the fetus's heart and your own could be hampered as a result.


Stomach sleeping is not a good option to consider in your second trimester. Lying on your belly is not only potentially uncomfortable for you because of your expanding belly, but it may also be unsafe for your unborn child.

Third trimester

From pregnancy week 27 to the end of the pregnancy is the push towards the finale, aka the third trimester. This trimester is typically the most challenging for women. Sleeping difficulties and daytime fatigue tend to become an everyday occurrence.

General discomforts like back pain, leg cramps, and restless legs syndrome start to manifest as the pregnancy progresses and the developing fetus starts to put pressure on muscles, joints, and blood flow.

Insomnia, snoring, and sleep apnea also arise due to these discomforts, leading to a higher risk of maternal morbidity, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, low birth weight, and preeclampsia.


As often, the best posture you can adopt is the side-sleeping position. This is also the most recommended position in the third trimester.

Side sleeping aids in the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the fetus while also improving blood flow to the uterus.


Sleeping on your back is possibly the worst position during this period. Inferior vena cava blockage and blood flow restrictions can result from sleeping on your back, increasing the risk of fetal growth restriction.

Studies have been conducted on the matter, with the results arriving at the conclusion that adverse pregnancy outcomes are noticeable during back sleeping.


Due to the expanding uterus getting in the way, sleeping on your stomach will become very uncomfortable, if not outright impossible. Even if you keep trying, the pressure on your stomach wouldn't be good for the baby. There would be pressure on your back and neck too, which could cause misalignment and result in aches and pains.

If sleeping on the left side is best, then should you avoid the right side?

It is not necessary that you avoid the right side.

Both the left and right sides are considered safe. However, when you sleep on your right, there is a slight possibility of inferior vena cava compression.

Contrarily, sleeping on your left side increases blood circulation, nourishes your unborn child, and helps your kidneys eliminate waste products and fluids. By lying on your left side, your growing body weight is also prevented from pressing too firmly against your liver.

In the event that you accidentally sleep on your back or stomach, what should you do?

Occasionally rolling over onto your back or stomach while you sleep isn’t an uncommon experience for pregnant moms. Do not worry much, as you will start to feel lightheaded and queasy before your baby is actually in danger of not getting enough oxygen.

As your uterus becomes heavier, you will feel uncomfortable lying on your back, eventually forcing your body to flip over even if you are asleep. This acts as protection for your baby.

Request your partner's assistance if you continue to wake up on your stomach or back. Ask them to flip you on your side whenever they wake up and see you in this position.

requesting your partners help

Besides sleep position, what else is recommended for a good night's rest?

Aspects besides sleeping positions also play an integral part in getting good rest during pregnancy. Here are a few that you should take note of:


When it comes to crib mattresses, the firmer they are, the better for the baby after birth. Softer crib mattresses tend to sink and may pose a greater risk of suffocation. A cross between soft and firm is presumably the most comfortable choice for the majority.

Natural latex mattresses, which suit this description, offer pressure relief, support, and cushioning, making them a good choice for pregnant women as well.

Sleep medicine

It is not advised to use prescription sleeping aids while pregnant. Pregnancy safety information is known to be lacking for some prescription sleep aids, while it is unclear for others.

You can take some over-the-counter sleep aids while expecting. Be mindful that exceeding the dosage of any sleep aid can have negative effects. Prescription sleeping pills should generally be avoided, and you should always consult your doctor before taking pregnancy-related medications or supplements.


Pregnancy gives rise to a lot of changes in the digestive system, resulting in difficulties like indigestion, constipation, and heartburn. Paired with frequent urination, this causes a ruckus in your sleep schedule. The following methods may mitigate this:-

  • Manage your meals throughout the day. Control the amount you consume.
  • Do not eat or drink anything two to three hours prior to bedtime.
  • Steer clear of caffeine and carbonated beverages. Foods high in fat or spice should also be reduced to a minimum, as these can induce acid reflux and heartburn.


It has been reported that exercise helps facilitate healthy sleep. Exercise can reduce a lot of aches by preventing excess weight gain. It also boosts your mood and averts sleep-disordered breathing, helping you sleep better.

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However, be sure to get your doctor's approval before starting any exercise regimen. If you have certain diseases or problems, your doctor may recommend that you avoid exercising during pregnancy.

pregnant woman exercising with doctor


Pregnancy is a tumultuous time in a woman's life. Once that pregnancy test has been confirmed as positive, a horde of emotions rushes through their minds. Excitement, worry, doubt, and anxiety all become staples from there on for the next nine months.

Sleep alleviates a lot of these emotional pressures. So you must never lose consideration for a comfortable sleeping position. If you have trouble sleeping, switch positions, but don't stray too far from the recommended ones.

Good luck with your pregnancy!

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Disclaimer: What is said in this article has been referenced from multiple sources and is intended only for educational and informational purposes. Please note that no content in this article is a substitute for professional advice from a qualified doctor or healthcare provider. Always consult an experienced doctor with any concerns you may have regarding a health condition or treatment, and never disregard any medical suggestions or delay in seeking treatment because of something you read here.

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