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How To Sleep When Pregnant And Still Get Enough Sleep?

a profile image of TSA author Andjela

Written By Anđela Rajković

Certified Sleep Consultant

Pregnant woman sleeping

8 April 2024 10 min read

Sleep deprivation is a common during the pregnancy period so how to sleep when pregnant and still get enough sleep? Try to be as physically active as possible during the day, as that is a prerequisite for being able to sleep at night. It is also important to choose the right sleep position for you and your baby as stomach sleeping is out of the question when pregnant.

Pregnant women especially have trouble sleeping during the second part of pregnancy. That is why the recommendation of experts is to practice some light physical activity during the day in order for sleep to be of better quality. It is also advisable to skip the midday nap if possible and if there are no health problems.

When it comes to sleeping position, pregnant women are generally not comfortable sleeping on their stomachs. Doctors believe that this is a very uncomfortable position for the baby, but also for pregnant women especially as the pregnancy progresses.

However, sleeping on your back is also not recommended because it reduces the blood supply to the heart, which means less blood flow for babies.

How to sleep when pregnant?

Although the doctor's recommendation is to avoid sleeping on your stomach and back, it is not a problem to do this occasionally during the first part of pregnancy. There are even pillows designed to help you sleep in those positions.

So, if you sometimes wake up on your stomach or back, you will not harm your baby. On the other hand, you should not do this all the time. However, during later part of pregnancy, the uterus and baby grow, which certainly makes it difficult to choose a sleeping position. In that case, doctors recommend that pregnant women sleep on their backs after the third month. Laying on the side is even more comfortable if you put a pillow under your stomach. That way, it won't hang .

an image of a pregnant woman on a couch

Then you will place it so that it is even with the rest of the body. Another great position includes the belly between the legs, preferably at the level of the knees. There are also specialized pillows for pregnant women that make sleeping even easier. Sometimes it is not enough to put yourself in the right position. That's because there are many factors that can interfere with sleep.

This refers to some regular things such as dinner, which should not be consumed just before bedtime. A hearty and heavy dinner just before bed can have a very bad effect on sleep. That is why smaller meals that are not spiced are recommended, especially during the evening.

Sleeping on a left side

Sleeping on the right side is not recommended to such an extent, although it is certainly a better solution than sleeping on your stomach. Doctors therefore state that it is best for both mother and baby to sleep on the left side as often as possible after the third month. This way, the baby receives the appropriate amount of nutrients and oxygen through the placenta.

Sleeping on a right side

Since sleeping on the stomach and back is “off”, sleeping on the side remains. The best sleeping position during pregnancy is on the left side. First of all, sleeping on one side of the body reduces the load on the spine. That way your back can rest during the night. It is recommended to use pillows for this purpose, which can additionally relieve the pelvis. Sleeping on the right side can lead to increased physical pressure on the liver, precisely because the stomach represents a certain burden.

An image of a pregnant woman laying on side.

Sleeping on stomach

Although sleeping in this position is just a habit that many pregnant women have, it should be changed even at the beginning of pregnancy when the fetus is very small. Apart from the fact that this position has a bad effect on the functioning of the organism during pregnancy, you will have more time to eradicate this habit and thus sleep better in the later months of pregnancy. Either way, sleeping on your stomach is a bad idea. At a certain stage of pregnancy, it becomes very inconvenient and dangerous for your baby.

Sleeping on a back

As the pregnancy progresses, the fetus becomes larger over time, grows and puts pressure on the internal organs and blood vessels of the pregnant woman. So, if a pregnant woman is lying on her bed, the fetus is more likely to press on the inferior vena cava. This reduces the amount of blood that returns to the heart. This leads to a decrease in blood pressure and a decrease in the amount of oxygen in the blood.

Why is sleeping on the side the ideal position for pregnant women?

Hip pain, heartburn, waking up due to changing the position of the baby in the abdomen, tingling in the legs, are just some of the problems that future moms face. One of the most common cause for sleep problems is increased stress, nervousness and fatigue during the day. During the first three months of pregnancy, the sleeping position is not crucial for the proper growth and development of the baby.

Then it is possible to sleep even on the stomach, if that is what pregnant women like. However, over time, the baby grows and it is necessary to adjust their habits to the goals of the child's development. In that case, it is necessary to avoid sleeping on your back. Otherwise, the uterus will put pressure on the veins, which return blood to the heart.

This limits the amount of blood and nutrients that the baby should receive every day. So, that would mean that sleeping on your hips is an ideal position. We must emphasize that it does not matter which side you choose. 

For example, doctors recommend that it be the left side after all. The reason why this side is much better for the mother and the baby is the appropriate amount of nutrients and oxygen that the baby receives through the placenta. If the mother lies on the right side, this process becomes much more difficult, because the position endangers the circulation.

In that case, the mother's body would have to suffer while providing enough blood for itself, and that is a very bad scenario for the baby. Some research proves that sleeping on the left side brings more benefits, and that refers to reducing the risk of premature birth.

How to sleep better during the pregnancy?

Finding the most comfortable, at the same time the safest sleeping position in the last months of pregnancy is extremely important for proper rest and unhindered development of the baby. However, a good night's sleep is one of the biggest challenges during pregnancy. This is especially true in the final quarter.

More than half of pregnant women in this period face reduced flexibility, limited movement and frequent urination, which further complicates the establishment of quality sleep. On the other hand, experts say that pregnant women still have to achieve about eight hours of quality night bed.

Bad sleep may not harm your baby, but you will certainly be exhausted, irritable and moody due to insufficient hours of sleep. It is important to keep in mind that the baby is sleeping while you are trying to fall asleep.

The results of recent research have shown that the baby will be better “supplied” with important nutrients if the mother sleeps on her side. When it comes to sleeping on your back, this process is much more difficult. It is recommended to sleep on the left side in order to enable optimal circulation.

In this way, the pressure of the substance on the liver is also reduced and the kidneys more efficiently eliminate excess fluid and by-products of metabolism from the body. This is an opportunity to prevent swelling of the joints, feet and hands.

Get a lot of pillows

Pillows are very useful in pregnancy for several reasons. For example, by using them and arranging them along the body, you can comfortably settle into a position that is best for you and your baby. This will make it much easier for you to fall asleep. However, if you do not adjust the pillows well enough, you can wake up with body aches. This is mainly due to insufficient support and support during sleep. In addition, look for pregnancy pillows that will help you to sleep easier.

an image of AngQi 65 inch Pregnancy pillow

Buy a special pillow

An ordinary pillow may provide some comfort and relief, but it is for the moment. However, it is not enough, it does not fully adapt to your body, which is generally not an adequate support for the neck and spine. It can also happen that they simply slip during the night as you move while special pillows do not. They are long and straight and have no curves or contours. So, they adapt to changes in the body.

Sleep in a semi-upright position

Sleeping semi-upright is not in itself healthy or unhealthy. However, as long as you can rest comfortably and get enough sleep, an upright position may be a good option for you. If a maternal sleep position doesn't work for you, change the position. As you know, pregnancy can be a very stressful period, especially in the third trimester, because then there is a change in hormonal status, which brings various unpleasant symptoms. Therefore, during some symptoms, it may be much more comfortable for you to choose a semi-upright sleeping position.

What will happen if you sleep on my back while pregnant?

While sleeping position is definitely a matter of one’s preferences and habits, it is still much more than a habit. These are positions that have a wide range of effects on your body. That is why the comfortable sleeping position during has a great impact on human health in addition to the quality of sleep.

It is especially important for pregnant women to see the meaning of each sleeping positions and decide on the one that suits them and the baby the most. In order for pregnancy to be tolerated and carried out as easily as possible, the organism needs to be helped to rest and regenerate, because it now “feeds” and “supports” two beings – mother and baby.

These are the reasons why experts advise to start the habit of sleeping on the left side at the very beginning of pregnancy. Sleeping on the left side is considered the best position compared to all the others. And this is especially true of sleeping on your back.

Doctors completely agree when it comes to avoiding sleeping on your back. This is the position in which the uterus presses on the vein that returns blood to the heart. If the body spends several hours in this position, the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta is significantly reduced.

As a result, very unpleasant consequences such as nausea, dizziness or a drop in blood pressure could occur. In the worst case, hypotension can occur during pregnancy and it is very bad for the baby. On the other hand, the option of sleeping on your stomach is a bad choice for a very obvious reason. However, a big belly makes this position difficult to perform and even more risky.

How much sleep do you need while pregnant?

The cumulative effect of too little sleep can leave a mark on your physical and mental health. Sleeping less than five hours a night can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Also, medical statistics show that lack of sleep shortens your life.

Pregnant women need to take even more care of this so that her baby can enjoy and develop properly. Research shows that pregnant women need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every day. However, this can be significantly affected by genetics and sleep quality. If some women work or have other obligations due to which they do not get to sleep for a full 8 hours, it would be good to establish a short sleep during the day. 

Those extra few hours are necessary, although it is difficult to make up for the night's sleep. This is especially important during the first trimester and that is why doctors emphasize that you should not save on sleep.

During this period of life, the body needs more to create enough blood for the baby. Then the pregnant woman's heart should pump harder to circulate that blood to the baby. This is how baby's calories are sent. Of course, the body does this automatically by producing more hormones or progesterone that put you to sleep. It is important to listen to your body and sleep if you feel tired. It’s a sure way to get enough sleep.

Too much sleep can also be bad. For example, it is not strange if you sleep up to 12 hours a day. However, then it is necessary to exercise a little more and eat well in order to compensate for energy.

Spread the word

FAQs about sleeping when pregnant

Pregnancy is a different condition than usual. That is why it is necessary for every woman, future mother, to change or adjust some of her habits to the current situation. Otherwise, they will not find the right and ideal sleeping position, so they will spend most of the night awake.

This is very bad for the baby, but also for the overall condition of the pregnant woman's body. In order for this not to happen, it is important to resolve all doubts at the beginning of pregnancy. This refers to some of the most common questions asked by future mothers, and behind which there are serious medical explanations.

Is it advisable to sleep on the back while pregnant?

Due to the reduced blood flow and the possible feeling of nausea, you should sleep on your back as little as possible. As long as there is no sleep disordered breathing and sleep apnea, you can sleep on the back.

Should I sleep on side when pregnant?

You should sleep on left side or right side, depending what suits you better, though the doctors recommend sleeping on the left side, in addition to use of a pregnancy pillow.

When should you start sleeping on your side once pregnant?

Doctors recommend that you choose the appropriate position as soon as possible, because that way you will have less problems with changing the position in the later phase of pregnancy.

What if I wake up in the middle of night on my back while being pregnant?

If you happen to wake up on your back during the night, don’t worry. This happens and will not cause a problem for you or your baby.

Can bending hurt a baby?

Activities that are physically demanding, such as bending frequently, standing for a long time, or lifting hard during pregnancy can increase the chances of miscarriage, premature birth, or injury.

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About the author

Anđela Rajković
As a CPD certified Sleep Consultant and well-practiced sleep enthusiast, I find a lot of joy in bringing my expertise to our readers – preferably those who love to sleep. With a background in the English language and literature and a love of research, I'm always seeking new ways to share the latest sleep science and bed-related findings. And, when I'm not connecting with my readers, you can find me exploring the great outdoors, or, well, curling up in bed.
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