FAQ & Questions

Q: I usually sleep on my stomach but now that I’m getting bigger, I’m obviously having trouble with that. Is it safe to sleep on my back during pregnancy?


Call it a Murphy’s Bed Law of Pregnancy — now that you need a good night’s sleep more than ever, it’s getting harder and harder to get one (which is why insomnia is such a common pregnancy symptom). Getting comfortable in bed isn’t easy anymore — especially if your favorite position is tummy-down and your tummy is currently the size of a watermelon (a very squirmy watermelon). But before you flip onto your back to catch those z’s you crave, consider this: Experts recommend that pregnant women not sleep on their backs during the second and third trimesters because of the weight of the growing uterus and baby pressing the vena cava, the main vein that carries blood back to the heart from your lower body region. If compressed, it can interfere with optimum circulation (and circulation is a pregnancy’s best friend).


So what position should a pregnant woman shift to when you’re in search of slumber? Your best bedtime bet is to lie on your side. Though it’s less important which side you choose, the left side allows for maximum blood flow (less pressure on the vena cava) and could reduce swelling in the legs. To get yourself comfy in that position, pull out all the stops — and all the pillows. You can try putting one pillow between your legs, one under your belly, and one behind your back — or any other improvised combination that allows you to sleep like a baby. You can try a wedge-shaped pillow for support. Another option is a full-length body pillow (which, when you shift positions with it, actually provides good training for alligator wrestling).


Best intentions (and nightly get-comfortable rituals) notwithstanding, you can’t always control what pose your body strikes in your sleep. If you wake up on your tummy or your back — don’t worry — absolutely no harm will come to your baby. That you woke up in the first place is probably your pregnant body’s way of telling you to change positions (and maybe that it’s time to pee again — another common sleep problem during pregnancy). So (after your trip to the bathroom) just haul yourself back into position — which at this point is probably no small undertaking (relocate four pillows, swing over the legs and belly, push out buttocks, rearrange the pillows…are you comfortable yet?). Just can’t sleep on your side? Since comfort is number one for a sound night’s sleep (which you definitely need during pregnancy), settle into whatever position (side, back, tummy) works best for you, so long as you okay it with your doctor first.
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