Safe sleep while pregnant

As you get further along in your pregnancy, you may find yourself tossing or turning to try to get comfortable as you fall asleep. As your uterus and your baby grow in size, it becomes difficult to find a comfortable position in bed.

Other pregnancy discomforts that may arise such as back pain, heartburn or shortness of breath will also contribute to the struggle of trying to find a comfortable position to fall asleep in.  

When you are pregnant, it is most ideal to sleep on your side. While either side is safe to sleep on, the best side is your left side, as this position helps to increase the amount of blood and nutrients that travel to the placenta and your baby.

It is less ideal for a mother to sleep on her back during pregnancy in the second and third trimester, as this position can lower the mother’s blood pressure, which can cause a decrease in circulation to the heart, and thus to the baby. The reason this happens is that the abdomen ends up resting on the intestines and major blood vessels, called the aorta and vena cava. 

Earlier in pregnancy, mothers may be able to get comfortable on their stomachs, but further along in a pregnancy, it is very difficult to lay on the stomach given the physical growth and changes of the abdomen.

It is difficult to get comfortable for sleep, especially upon entering the third trimester. Mothers should start their sleep on their sides, and if they naturally end up on their backs, they shouldn’t panic, but once they awake on their backs, should turn onto their sides again. This can be best done by using several pillows, or purchasing a large body pillow or pregnancy pillow to get comfortable.

Keeping the back well supported with pillows and elevating the head to keep from lying too flat will help with heartburn and allow for easier breathing. Try to avoid caffeine late at night or excess fluids before bed, to help limit overnight trips to the bathroom, which disrupt sleep.

Always talk to your healthcare provider or OB doctor if something is bothering you, if you have questions about sleep, or if you are not getting enough sleep. It is an important and valid topic to raise at a prenatal visit and they will be happy to offer assistance and support.

About the author:
Boston NAPS, LLC is a Boston-based, private nursing company and team of qualified Registered Nurses that specializes in providing nursing care to expecting, new, and experienced parents and families. Boston NAPS services include prenatal, postpartum, lactation, and newborn support and education to families throughout Massachusetts. All services are offered in the privacy and comfort of your home, with some services also offered in a group setting. For more information about Boston NAPS, please visit their website at

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