Sleep Positions to Try (and Avoid!) if You’re Pregnant

January 4, 2023

Almost all expecting and new mothers have one thing in common – lack of sleep. You know, the “haven’t washed your hair in days, still in your pajamas at 5:00 p.m., forgot to eat, don’t know what day it is” type of lack of sleep. It’s normal to have interrupted sleep with a newborn baby to care for, but what about before they are born?

Many women experience sleep troubles and disturbances while pregnant, long before baby arrives. Pregnancy is often the time women require sleep the most, but unfortunately it can be one of the most difficult times to get quality rest. Hardly seems fair, right?

Why is sleeping when pregnant so hard? The short answer is because your body is going through some serious drama – and in a super short span of time! Of course, there are much longer answers and, thank goodness, also some steps you can take to get a more restful night. So, grab a water or decaffeinated beverage (sorry, mamas!) and let’s talk about why you’re so tired and the pregnancy sleeping positions that could help.

Why Sleeping When Pregnant Is So Hard

Pregnant woman sleeping on her side with her hand on her foreheadPregnant woman sleeping on her side with her hand on her forehead

There are many common reasons pregnant women struggle to sleep. Some may include:

  • Anxiety
  • General discomfort
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Heartburn
  • Back pain
  • Frequent urination

And, a lot more. As an expecting mother, it’s normal to worry. Of course, worrying can cause even more loss of sleep, so try to let go of those negative thoughts!

If you feel worried over how lack of sleep impacts your body and baby, we’re here to help ease your mind. There is very little research to support pregnancy complications as a result of lack of sleep. However, some research has shown that those who get fewer than six hours of sleep each night may have longer labors and be more likely to need C-sections. 

It’s important to try your best to get adequate sleep as it is essential to your health whether you’re pregnant or not. Sleep is how your body resets and repairs itself and when your brain flushes toxins that accumulate between cells. Sleep also supports your immune systems, which become suppressed during pregnancy to better support the growth of the baby. And, trust us, even a common cold can feel way worse when you’re pregnant.

Pregnancy Sleep Positions: the Best and the Worst

Pregnant person side-sleeping with a pregancy pillowPregnant person side-sleeping with a pregancy pillow

You may have already heard or discovered that the best sleep position while pregnant is sleeping on your side – specifically your left side according to experts. This side-sleeping position is best because it provides the highest amount of circulation while placing the least amount of pressure on veins and internal organs.

Sleeping on your left side can also increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta. Isn’t your body incredible? For additional side-sleeping comfort, try incorporating a pregnancy pillow to hug or placing a pillow between your knees.

Sleep positions to try to avoid during pregnancy include sleeping on your stomach and on your back. While it’s okay to sleep on your stomach initially during pregnancy, this will become an uncomfortable position once your bump begins to interfere and your abdomen continues to grow. One solution for stomach-sleepers is to use a donut-shaped pillow with a hole in the middle for your bump to breathe.

Basically, pillows are your best friend and the more, the better during this time! Pillows can be used to prop yourself up if an upright position feels best, or between the knees, or as a special solution like the donut and pregnancy pillow designs.

Sleeping on your back while pregnant should be avoided during the second and third trimesters as it positions the entire weight of the growing uterus and baby on the body’s back, intestines, and vena cava – the primary vein that carries blood back to the heart from the lower body. This can cause:

  • Trouble with breathing
  • Backaches
  • Digestive issues
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Low blood pressure
  • Decreased circulation

Ahh, the joys of pregnancy.

Natural Sleep Tips to Improve Sleep During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman receiving a back massage from her partnerPregnant woman receiving a back massage from her partner

In addition to an buy ALL of the pillows, there are many other helpful tips that can improve your quality of sleep during pregnancy – and in general! Take a look:

  1. If you are experiencing restless leg syndrome, applying a high-grade lavender essential oil or magnesium topically to the legs can drastically help. The best form of topical magnesium is magnesium chloride. Taking magnesium orally can also help ease anxiety.
  2. While it’s important to stay hydrated, limiting your intake of liquids a few hours before bedtime will decrease the chance you will need to wake up during the night and go to the bathroom.
  3. Limiting caffeine intake during pregnancy is beneficial to receiving more restful and restorative sleep. Try avoiding caffeine after 3:00 PM.
  4. Reduce blue light exposure a couple hours before bed to maintain a well-regulated circadian rhythm. Wearing blue light blocking glasses, turning off the Wi-Fi router, putting your phone on airplane mode, and journaling or reading are all helpful ways to wind down.
  5. Create a completely dark and cool environment to sleep in as this is proven to be the best environment for restorative sleep.
  6. Incorporate relaxing evening rituals like a warm bath, a back or foot massage, or gentle stretching before bed to assist your body in drifting off to sleep.

Now go get some sleep while you still can, mama! And, if you’re already researching better sleep for Baby, check out our healthier, non-toxic crib mattresses.