Separating Fact from Fiction to Help You Sleep Better During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a joyous yet demanding period for expectant mothers. With an abundance of advice on maintaining good health during this time, it can be difficult to distinguish between reliable and unreliable information.

One aspect that many women may not consider is how their sleeping posture affects their pregnancy. There are various myths surrounding sleeping positions during pregnancy that need to be debunked.

Debunking Myths about Sleeping Posture During Pregnancy

In this article, we will examine some of these myths and offer evidence-based information on the best sleeping posture for pregnant women.

Recommended Sleeping Positions for Pregnant Women

Sleeping Position Benefits Considerations
Side Sleeping
  • Improves blood and nutrient flow to the placenta
  • Reduces snoring and sleep apnea
  • Eases back pain
  • Reduces risk of stillbirth
  • Use a pillow between your knees for proper alignment of hips and spine
  • Place a pillow under your belly to support your bump
  • Use a firm mattress
Back Sleeping
  • Reduces acid reflux
  • Prevents wrinkles and acne
  • Ideal for spine alignment
  • May cause snoring and sleep apnea
  • Increases risk of low blood pressure and decreased blood flow to the heart and baby
  • Use a pillow to elevate your head and upper back
Stomach Sleeping
  • Can relieve snoring and sleep apnea
  • Eases pregnancy-related acid reflux
  • Puts pressure on your growing belly and breasts
  • Increases strain on your neck and spine
  • Can cause numbness and tingling in your limbs
  • Reduces swelling in the legs and feet
  • Improves breathing and blood flow
  • Reduces heartburn and acid reflux
  • Use a reclining chair or propped-up pillows for support
  • Avoid fully reclining to prevent dizziness and nausea
  • Use a pillow to support your head and neck
Fetal Position
  • Eases snoring and sleep apnea
  • Reduces acid reflux
  • Relieves lower back pain
  • Can cause strain on neck, shoulders, and back
  • Use a pillow to support your head and neck
  • Avoid curling up too tightly to prevent restricted breathing

Myth #1: Sleeping on your back is safe during pregnancy

It is a common myth that expectant mothers can sleep on their backs during pregnancy without harm. However, sleeping on the back is not recommended during pregnancy.

When a pregnant woman lies on her back, the weight of the developing fetus and uterus puts pressure on a major vein called the inferior vena cava. This pressure can restrict blood flow to the heart and brain, causing symptoms like fainting, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Furthermore, studies have shown that sleeping on the back increases the risk of stillbirth.

A study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that sleeping on the back after 28 weeks of pregnancy doubles the risk of stillbirth. Therefore, it is essential to avoid sleeping on the back during pregnancy.

Myth #2: Sleeping on the stomach is safe during early pregnancy

Some women prefer sleeping on their stomachs, and this may be comfortable for them. However, sleeping on the stomach is not recommended during pregnancy, especially in the later stages.

As the uterus grows, it can put pressure on the stomach and make it uncomfortable to lie on the stomach. Additionally, sleeping on the stomach during pregnancy can lead to back pain, and neck pain, and even cause the baby to be in an uncomfortable position.

Myth #3: Sleeping on the left side is the only safe position during pregnancy

It is a common myth that sleeping on the left side is the only safe position during pregnancy. However, sleeping on the left side is not the only safe position during pregnancy. Sleeping on the left side is recommended during pregnancy because it improves blood flow and nutrient supply to the fetus.

It also helps to reduce swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet. However, sleeping on the right side is also safe during pregnancy. Sleeping on the right side does not affect blood flow to the fetus or the mother's health.


Myth #4: Pregnancy pillows are not necessary

Pregnancy pillows are specially designed pillows that provide support to the body during pregnancy. They help to improve blood circulation, reduce back pain, and prevent pregnancy-related discomfort. Some women may feel that pregnancy pillows are not necessary, but they can be beneficial during pregnancy.

There are various types of pregnancy pillows, including full-body pillows, wedge pillows, and C-shaped pillows. Each type of pillow offers different levels of support and comfort. Full-body pillows are suitable for women who prefer sleeping on their sides, as they provide support to the entire body.

Wedge pillows are ideal for elevating the upper body and can help with acid reflux and heartburn. C-shaped pillows are perfect for women who prefer sleeping on their sides as they provide support to the head, neck, and hips.

Myth #5: Sleeping with multiple pillows provides the same support as a pregnancy pillow

Some women may choose to use multiple regular pillows instead of a pregnancy pillow. However, regular pillows may not provide the same level of support as a pregnancy pillow. Regular pillows can shift and move during the night, causing discomfort and not providing adequate support to the body.

Also Read:

How to Find the Right Pregnancy Pillow

What is the Best Sleeping Position for Pregnant Women

In general, sleeping on the left or right side with a pillow between the knees is the best sleeping position during pregnancy. However, if sleeping on the side is uncomfortable, propping up the upper body with pillows can also help reduce discomfort.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best sleep position for a pregnant woman can depend on several factors, including her comfort level and any medical conditions she may have. However, some general recommendations can be useful.

The American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women sleep on their left side, as this can improve circulation to both the mother and the fetus, reduce swelling, and relieve pressure on the uterus.

However, this is not a hard-and-fast rule, and some women may find that sleeping on their right side or even their back is more comfortable for them. If you are pregnant and unsure about the best sleep position for you, it is always a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

In addition to sleep position, there are some other things pregnant women can do to improve their sleep quality. These include


1. Using a pregnancy pillow

A specially designed pregnancy pillow can help support the belly and hips and make sleeping more comfortable.

2. Limiting fluid intake before bed

Drinking too much before bed can increase the need to urinate during the night, which can disrupt sleep.

3. Establishing a bedtime routine

Going to bed at the same time every night and engaging in relaxing activities before bed, such as reading or taking a warm bath, can help signal to your body that it is time to sleep.

4. Creating a comfortable sleep environment

This can include using comfortable bedding, keeping the bedroom cool and dark, and minimizing noise and other distractions.

Final Thoughts

Pregnant women need to prioritize their sleep and find a comfortable position that works for them. While there are many myths out there about what positions are safe or dangerous, it's important to rely on reputable sources and medical advice when making decisions about sleep positions during pregnancy.

The reality is that there's no one-size-fits-all solution, as every woman's body and pregnancy are unique. By listening to their bodies, communicating with their healthcare providers, and following some simple tips and guidelines, pregnant women can get the rest they need to support a healthy pregnancy and prepare for the exciting journey ahead.