Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy
“Get your sleep now, before the baby comes!” Yeah, right. Sleeping well during pregnancy can be challenging for many reasons: waking up to pee, heartburn, anxiety. And of course, there’s the big one: finding a comfortable sleep position for your growing bump.
Although your ideal sleeping position may change depending on your stage of pregnancy, knowing how to position your body can help decrease pain and improve your sleep quality. This can help boost your mood and fend off fatigue.
The Best Pregnancy Sleeping Position
Early in your pregnancy, anything goes. But after about 20 weeks, side sleeping is best. Sleeping on your side is beneficial for a common pregnancy complaint: low back pain. It also provides good circulation, which may help reduce swelling. Side sleeping helps keep your pelvis in good alignment, which is important as your body releases hormones to loosen and relax your pelvic ligaments.
Left vs. Right Side
Which side should you sleep on? You may have heard that sleeping on your left side is best because it provides optimal blood flow to the placenta. However, recent research shows that either side is safe. Pick whatever is most comfortable.
Make It More Comfortable
Whether you’re a new side sleeper or it’s always been your go-to position, try these tips to make it more comfortable, especially as your baby grows:
Put a pillow between your knees, which may improve pain in your low back and hips.
If you still have some back pain, try a pillow under your belly to reduce discomfort.
Roll over slowly to limit round ligament pain (pain on the sides of your pelvis due to ligaments stretching to support your growing uterus).
If you have shortness of breath or acid reflux, add pillows under your torso.
Consider buying a U-or C-shaped pregnancy pillow for more support and comfort.
Sleep Positions to Avoid
Avoid: Back Sleeping
Try not to sleep on your back after 20 weeks, as it can impair circulation to you and your baby. It can increase the pressure on your intestines, cause shortness of breath, increase low back pain, increase your chances of hemorrhoids and varicose veins, and cause other complications.
But if you find yourself waking up at night on your back, don’t worry! Moving around in your sleep is common. Just roll over onto your side and go back to sleep. If you need to be lying on your back for longer than a few minutes or if you have symptoms like heartburn, try using pillows to prop up your torso by at least 30 degrees.
Avoid: Stomach Sleeping
This may be okay earlier on in pregnancy, but once your belly pops, this becomes uncomfortable and eventually downright impossible (imagine sleeping on top of a watermelon). If you’re normally a stomach sleeper, using a body pillow may help you adjust to sleeping more soundly on your side.
More Tips for Better Sleep
In addition to adjusting your sleep position, try these other ways to snooze more soundly:
Stay active. Exercise (walking for about 30 minutes a day) can help reduce pain and improve sleep quality.
Limit liquids before bed. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. But if you’re waking up to pee throughout the night (baby, meet bladder?), limit fluids one to two hours before bedtime.
Eat dinner earlier. Acid reflux and heartburn are also common pregnancy complaints. Eating dinner at least two hours before bed can help, as can limiting trigger foods, like citrus, spicy foods, and fried or high-fat foods.
Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Easier said than done, we know. Here are some ideas:
Keep a journal to jot down to-dos or worries keeping you up.
Steer clear of electronic devices (i.e., social media scrolling) close to bedtime.
Take a warm shower or bath.
Do a guided meditation.
Do gentle yoga or stretching, or follow your Hinge Health exercise playlist.
Sleep is important for overall health, especially when you’re growing a baby! If you're experiencing low back pain, pelvic pain, or round ligament pain that is disrupting your sleep, talk to your Hinge Health coach or physical therapist about exercises or modifications to improve your symptoms.
The ideal sleep position during pregnancy is on your side (left or right). This helps reduce low back pain, increase circulation, and keep your pelvis in good alignment.
It’s best to avoid sleeping on your back and stomach during pregnancy, especially as your belly grows bigger.
Staying active, limiting liquids before bed, eating earlier dinners, and doing something relaxing before bed can help improve your sleep during pregnancy.
Best sleeping positions during pregnancy. (2021, September 1). American Pregnancy Association. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/sleeping-positions-while-pregnant/#:~:text=The%20best%20sleep%20position%20during,the%20placenta%20and%20your%20baby.
Cronin, R. S., Li, M., Thompson, M. D., Gordon, A., Raynes-Greenow, C. H., Heazell, A. E. P., Stacey, T., Culling, V. M., Bowring, V., Anderson, N. H., O’Brien, L. M., Mitchell, E. A., & Askei, L. M., et al. (2019). An individual participant data meta-analysis of maternal going-to-sleep position, interactions with fetal vulnerability, and risk of late still birth. E Clinical Medicine, 10, 49-57. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2019.03.014