Best Sleep Positions During Pregnancy

by Lodovica Trevisan

Sleeping Positions During PregnancyYour regular sleep positions might not work during your pregnancy. Some nights, getting to sleep means putting out an "SOS." Don't lose sleep trying to figure it out. Use our guide to learn how you can sleep safely and comfortably.

Experts consider "sleeping on side" or "SOS" the safest position during pregnancy. Snoozing on your left side seems to offer extra benefits. It increases the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby.

A study from New Zealand aimed to determine whether sleep positions or other sleep practices in pregnant women were associated with the risk of late stillbirth.

The case-control study suggested that compared to sleeping on the left side, sleeping on the back was associated with an increased risk of stillbirth.

The results are plausible, but alone don't prove that sleeping positions affect the risk of stillbirth. It does back up recommendations that you sleep on your left side whenever possible.

Settling in for a Good Night's Rest

You're exhausted and ready to hit the pillow. Your growing baby influences which position you'll choose. Lying on your back might affect the blood flow to the placenta and baby's food and oxygen supply.

Lying on your stomach becomes increasingly less agreeable and might not be safe. That leaves the "SOS position." Lie on your side, use a firm pillow to support your head and neck and tuck a pillow between your knees.

In spite of being safe, lying on your side can be less than comfortable. As your belly expands, so does your list of aches and pains right along with it.

These tips can help you find that just-right and tolerable position.

• Back pain: If your back aches, use the "SOS" position and try placing a pillow under your abdomen as well.

• Heartburn: If heartburn during the night you may want to try propping your upper body with pillows.

• Shortness of breath: In late pregnancy, breathing can feel difficult. Try lying on your side or propped up with pillows.

• Can't find a good position: Try the tripod. Lie on your side/tummy with one knee up and a body pillow under you. Some of the pregnancy.org moms say that this position has been their only key to snoozing during pregnancy.

Pillows and Wedges to the Rescue

We mentioned pillows and propping in positions. These are specifically designed to support a sleeping and changing body.

• Maternity pillows: A maternity pillow seems misnamed. It's actually two pillows attached with fabric and velcro tabs. You can adjust it for front and back support

• Pregnancy wedges: These wedge shaped pillows can support your belly when you lie or hold you in a semi-recline while your reading in bed.

Body pillows: At least five feet long, this mega pillow can support your back and cradle your belly.

Moms and moms-to-be, do you have a sleep tip or favorite sleep positions to share with us?


Medical references:
- Stacey T, Thompson JMD, Mitchell EA et al. "Association between maternal sleep practices and risk of late stillbirth: a case-control study". British Medical Journal 2011; 342: d3403