Best Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy

Sleeping while pregnant is more difficult than one may think. There is a common misconception that rest will come easy, since pregnant women are so tired from all the hard work their body is doing to create a little life.

Unfortunately, that simply isn’t true. From your changing body, to a head full of thoughts, and shifting hormones… it’s hard to get the sleep you need. When I was pregnant, I learned endless tips and tricks along the way so I could avoid the wrong sleeping position throughout my pregnancy.

Below you will find the best sleeping positions during pregnancy for each trimester to help you prepare for the exciting journey ahead, and catch those much needed Z’s!

How to Sleep During Pregnancy in First Trimester (1st, 2nd, & 3rd Month)

During the first trimester, you’ll likely have a million thoughts dancing in your head. Is the baby a boy or a girl? Am I ready for this? What will the baby look like? And most of all… will I ever sleep again?

For the first 12 weeks, it’s still safe to sleep on your stomach. So if that is comfortable, go for it! If your body and belly are changing, it may be time to shift your position soon.

The best position to transition to is sleeping on your left side. This position promotes blood flow to the uterus, providing your baby the essential nutrients it needs to grow. You can try this side sleeping position with your legs outstretched if you like.

My personal favorite way to sleep on my left side was with my knees bent and a pillow in between my legs for added support.

If the left side is not working for you all night long, sleeping on your right side is OK for periods of time as well. It’s better to transition as soon as you can to your side vs. staying on your stomach.

pregnant woman laying down

Sleeping on your back is another choice for the early days. I slept this way for the first 8 weeks. In trimester 2 and 3, sleeping on your back becomes unsafe though so you will definitely want to have another position ready at that time. It puts too much pressure on your back and spine to sleep this way, as your uterus and belly begin expanding.

Sleeping Position During Pregnancy Second Trimester  (4th, 5th, & 6th month)

Most women report that the start of the 2nd trimester is when their baby “pops”, meaning they start to show a little bump. My son really began to show himself right around week 18! With that added weight and as your body shifts, it’s important to continue to get restful sleep.

By this point, if you’ve popped, sleeping on your stomach is no longer a safe option. Sleeping on your side (or the “SOS” position as many call it) is the best choice. Here are some specific tips to help you if SOS is becoming difficult due to other pregnancy symptoms:

Prop up your upper body, especially if you are experiencing heartburn. I had awful heartburn and this little trick helped a lot. Amazon (or a friend/ neighbor/ local maternity shop) has reasonably priced wedge pillows that will prop you up and keep you comfy. This also helps if feel short of breath or have a cold.

If you are waking often to go to the bathroom, try cutting back on liquids post dinner to help with that. You can drink a lot of water and herbal tea come morning to re-hydrate.

If nausea is getting in the way of your restful slumber (this was my problem) I’d recommend keeping Saltines and Ginger Ale by your bedside. Once I got out of bed to grab something in the kitchen, it would ruin my chances of falling back to sleep.

This trick will help you stay put once you’re in bed for the night. If your nausea is really inhibiting, try talking to your Doctor. Mine gave me some anti-nausea pills to take at night, and it helped tremendously.

Halfway through pregnancy I began finding it really difficult to unwind at night. I was so tired all day, but once nighttime rolled around, I could not sleep! I then limited screens before bed, diffused some lavender oil in my bedroom, and talked about how I was feeling with my husband and a trusted friend. Clearing your mind will help it prepare to rest!

Sleeping Position During Pregnancy Third Trimester  (7th month – 9th month)

At this point you may be getting the nursery ready, picking out a name, and wondering what the experience of birth is really like. If you’re anything like me, you are also getting excited! You are getting closer and closer to meeting your baby. Trimester 3 is a good time to stock up on rest and take good care of yourself.

If you’re ever-growing belly is still getting in the way of sleeping at this point, you may want to consider a curved pregnancy/ body pillow. There are a lot of great options to provide you full body support for these final days.

If you can’t find one you like or want a cheaper option, use some extra pillows and rolled up towels at home. You will want to add additional support under your ankles, in between your knees, under your baby bump, and by your back and neck.

If you’re experiencing insomnia at night, use the weekends to catch up on daytime sleep. On Saturday’s and Sunday’s before I had my son, I got my most restful naps on my couch around 3pm. It was summertime so I would put on a fan and soft music to drift away! Nighttime sleep may be difficult to come by, some use other times of day to sleep as best you can sleep as best you can.

Sleep wherever you can! For many women, their bed is not the most comfortable place to sleep at the end of pregnancy and that’s OK. If sleeping on your side (on the couch or a comfy recliner) is now the best option for you, just go ahead and make that your new plan for the remainder of the pregnancy.

Continue to exercise and move your body. Going for long walks, taking prenatal yoga, and stretching will ensure that by day’s end, your body is actually tired enough to rest. The movement is very healthy for you and your baby. If it’s rainy or too hot, power walk Target or a local mall with a friend!

Continue to hydrate and eat protein rich foods. By the end of my pregnancy journey, I was HUNGRY. The rapid growth and development of your baby at the end is taxing on your body.

You need fuel to keep up. If you are not getting the proper nutrition, your sleep may also suffer. Try making a smoothie loaded with greens, protein, and healthy fat for a delicious afternoon pick me up.

These strategies all helped me overcome sleepless nights and gain control of my energy levels while pregnant. By the time I went into labor, I was well rested and physically and emotionally ready for the next stage – parenting.

Now that you know the best positions and tips for sleeping, you and your baby can relax and get excited to meet for the first time.

Guest written by: Andrea Coelho