Is It Safe To Sleep On Your Back While Pregnant

Sleeping On Back While Pregnant: Is It Safe?

Are you expecting and you’re looking for answers to the question: how on earth do I sleep with a baby bump?!

Well, there are many dos and don’ts when pregnant, and one of them is to sleep on your back or stomach after the first trimester. 

Sleeping on your back is not safe throughout the second and third trimester as your developing baby and the weight of your uterus can put strain on your circulatory system.

You cannot sleep on your stomach once your baby bump comes up. 

Fret not because there are other cozy side-lying sleeping positions that will ease your back and pregnant aches when you sleep.

Not to mention how body pillows will help you adjust with becoming used to sleeping on your side especially if you are someone who sleeps on your back.

In this article, we will answer the question many pregnant women have about sleeping positions during pregnancy and certain sleep aids to follow for your and your unborn baby’s better health.

Are there some postures to avoid while sleeping?

There are some sleeping postures that are less healthy than side-sleeping. There are:

Sleeping on your stomach

Will sleeping on your back affect your growing fetus?

Only for the first trimester of your pregnancy, it is safe to sleep on your stomach because your uterus sufficiently shelters your developing baby.

Gradually, you will see that it becomes impossible or uncomfortable to rest on your stomach as pregnancy develops.

There is no need to panic if you happen to wake up with your stomach on bed occasionally as no harm will come to your baby.

You can use many pillows to enable yourself to sleep comfortably on your stomach by placing them between your bent knees and under your belly.

Sleeping on your back

How about sleeping on your back, is it safe?

Sleeping on your back during the third trimester (28 weeks of pregnancy) puts strain on your major blood vessels that provide blood to your uterus.

This strain or pressure reduces the oxygen supply to the fetus.

Sleeping this way can also make the pregnant woman experience uncomfortable sensations like heartburn and vertigo.

Research has shown that going to bed on your back during the third trimester increases your risk of stillbirth.

It is no longer safe to sleep on your back after 28 weeks of pregnancy 

If you accidentally sleep on your back then your aorta will be constricted which will block your main blood supply to your body and placenta and leave you dizzy, nauseated and short of breath.

If you or someone you know is worried about waking up regularly on your back, then you should consider using pillows to support your body and keep your body on your side.

It is best to avoid lying on your back during late pregnancy as the weight of your heavy uterus can press on the large blood vessels in your belly, so better be safe than sorry.

What are the best sleeping positions during pregnancy?

What pregnancy-safe sleeping position should you choose?

Definitely not sleeping on your back or stomach.

The optimum direction is on your left side. 

Your infant will be safe by lying on your side and it makes you more comfortable as your abdomen expands.

Sleeping on your left side enhances your body’s circulation, making it simpler for nutrient-rich blood to travel from your heart to the placenta to feed your unborn child. 

Also, lying on your left side prevents your growing body weight from putting too much pressure on your liver. 

While either side is acceptable, left is preferred.

You don’t need to be alarmed if you roll from side to front to back when you’re sleeping as your body will move to the place where it is most comfortable. 

It will help to use a bunched-up pillow between your legs and a pillow under your abdomen or use a full-length body pillow to remain on your side throughout the night.

How to successfully sleep on your side?

Here are some ideas for making side-sleeping seem more natural or at least comfortable if it’s not your thing.

You can also ask your partner to check on you sometimes and gently prod you into a better posture if you’re very worried about your sleeping position.

First trimester

Early on, it is okay to sleep in any posture. 

But, try placing a cushion between your legs if you want to develop the habit of favoring your side. 

Your hips and lower body pain could be reduced by doing this.

Plus, if you want to go a little extra, you can think about purchasing an orthopedic knee pillow.

Second trimester

Your mattress should be moderately firm so that your back doesn’t slump as your tummy expands. 

You can think about putting a board between your mattress and box spring if yours is too soft.

Consider researching pregnant pillows as well to assist with side sleeping.

There are U or C shaped pillows that wrap over your complete body.

The cushion is placed such that it flows down your back, hugged at the front, and slipped in between your legs.

Third trimester

Continue to support yourself with a pregnant cushion. 

Look at wedge pillows if you find them a little too heavy with your expanding tummy. 

To prevent rolling, tuck them behind your back and under your tummy.

Try using pillows to elevate your upper body at a 45-degree angle if you simply can’t get used to sleeping on your side. 

By doing so, you avoid lying flat on your back and relieve pressure on your inferior vena cava.

As an alternative, you can also:
  • Try using books or blocks to raise the head of your bed by a few inches and you can switch to this position if you want to sleep on your right side.
  • Lessen heartburn by raising your upper body with a couple of cushions.
  • Elevate your legs using cushions to relieve leg discomfort and edema.
  • Keep your knees bent while sleeping to support your back.

What are the common sleep disruptions during pregnancy?

Given all the changes and situations that could impact how you sleep during pregnancy, it’s not uncommon to have trouble sleeping. 

Here are some typical sleep disturbances that you could encounter, particularly in the last trimesters of your pregnancy:

  • Vivid dreams and nightmares: During your pregnancy, vivid dreams and even nightmares can happen which can prevent you from falling asleep or keep you up. These kinds of nightmares are common and it may be your subconscious mind’s method of coping with any worries and uncertainties it has about having children.
  • Uncomfortable baby bump: It can be challenging to find a comfortable sleep position throughout your pregnancy and it will be harder to move while sleeping because of your baby bump.
  • Stress and anxiety about baby’s health: You can find it difficult to obtain the rest you need due to stress, worry, and overall anxiousness related to your baby’s health, parenthood, and general anxiety.
  • Active baby: A lively infant can wake you up at night and keep you awake.
  • Faster heartbeat: An increased heartbeat can sometimes make it difficult to fall asleep. Your heart must work harder during pregnancy in order to pump more blood to the uterus and the rest of your body.
  • Shortness of breath: It could be more difficult for you to breathe at night if you are short of breath. One effect of higher amounts of pregnancy hormones is deeper breathing. Also, when your uterus grows later in the pregnancy, pressure builds up on your diaphragm, making it more difficult for you to breathe.
  • Urge to pee: The need to go pee can wake you up at night many times. Since your kidneys are working harder to filter the extra blood produced during pregnancy, your body produces more urine. Plus, when your uterus expands, your bladder is pushed under pressure.
  • Backaches and leg cramps: These cramps can sometimes keep you awake during night, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. Loosening of your ligaments is one potential source of back pain that comes from the hormone relaxin which prepares your body for labor. Your baby’s greater weight can also be a factor in your aches and pains.
  • Constipation and heartburn: During pregnancy, your whole digestive system slows down, which causes food to linger longer in your stomach and intestines. Due to acid reflux, which occurs when stomach juices flow back up into the esophagus, this can cause heartburn. When your uterus presses on your stomach and large intestine in the later stages of pregnancy, these conditions frequently get worse, both of which disrupts your sleep journey during pregnancy.

What steps can you take to improve your sleep while pregnant?

Try to develop the habit of sleeping on your side early on in your pregnancy as it is the best recommended sleeping position. 

Pregnant women shouldn’t use over-the-counter sleep aids, including herbal supplements.

Here are some steps you can take to improve your sleep routine during pregnancy:
  • Limit your caffeine intake: Try to avoid drinking coffee or tea with caffeine after 3pm, drink up before the afternoon time.
  • Drink a lot of water: Make sure to drink plenty of water during the day, but cut back a bit in the hours before night to avoid having to get up and use the restroom to pee.
  • 30 minutes-workout: Exercise improves your ability to sleep, but make sure to avoid exercising four hours before bed.
  • Engage in relaxing activities: You can unwind by taking a warm bath, massaging your shoulders or feet, reading a book or even practicing creativity if that is your thing. Relaxing yourself is important to manage your stress and anxiety that keep you up at night.
  • Create a calm bedroom: It will be easier to fall asleep and remain asleep if your bedroom is dark, quiet, and chilly at night.
  • Avoid having large meals at night: For some women, it’s beneficial to eat more during breakfast and lunch and less at dinner. Eat a couple crackers before night if your nausea is keeping you awake.
  • Maintain sleep times: Establish a schedule where you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Stretch your calves before bedtime: Before going to bed, you can stretch your calves, stand on the leg or press your foot firmly against the wall if a leg cramp wakes you up. Also, make sure your diet has adequate calcium and magnesium, since these nutrients can lessen leg cramps. 

When should you consult your doctor?

If you have problems sleeping well or have other signs of a sleep disturbance, it’s vital to speak with a doctor since several illnesses have been associated with an increased risk of sleep issues during pregnancy. 

A healthcare professional; can offer advice and remedies for pregnancy-related sleep problems such as: 
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Heartburn,
  • Restless legs syndrome


During your pregnancy, you could be worrying about a variety of things. 

Sleeping on your back while pregnant is a simple problem to be aware of.

To provide you and your baby with the best blood flow, doctors advise lying on your sides, preferably the left.

Beyond that, you can try utilizing some pillows to position yourself in the way that seems the most comfortable to you.

At every stage of pregnancy, getting enough sleep can be difficult. 

While there aren’t any foolproof remedies, there are several strategies that women can use to enhance the quality of their sleep.

If a pregnant woman is having trouble getting adequate sleep or is sleeping excessively, then it is best to consult with your doctor to provide better suggestions.


Heazell AEP, Li M, Budd J, Thompson JMD, Stacey T, Cronin RS, Martin B, Roberts D, Mitchell EA, McCowan LME. Association between maternal sleep practices and late stillbirth – findings from a stillbirth case-control study. BJOG2017;

Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to Month, Sixth Edition Paperback – January 1, 2016 by American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (Author)

Atqia Bilkis

Atqia Bilkis is a content writer, educator and editor whose work comes from passion. As a fighter in life, she believes knowledge is the key to enlightenment and success in life. She enjoys writing about health sciences and technology and has written articles and guides on sports, animals and more.

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