Is It Safe To Sleep On Your Stomach While Pregnant?

A major inconvenience that comes with pregnancy is sleep disturbances that prevent an expecting mother from getting the rest she needs. As a result of increased anxiety and hormonal changes, it's common for women to experience insomnia during their pregnancy (per What To Expect). According to a 2016 review published in the Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, insomnia affects up to 80% of pregnant women, with symptoms generally being at their peak during the third trimester of pregnancy

A pregnant woman may have to modify her sleeping habits to sleep better at night. As explained by the Sleep Foundation, pregnant women can enhance their sleep quality by improving their sleep hygiene. This can be achieved by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, using a bed for nothing but sleeping and sex, reading before bed, and avoiding electronics and screens at night. Some pregnant women struggling with insomnia may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), which can help them develop healthier sleeping habits, according to What To Expect.

To drift into a peaceful night's sleep, you need to feel comfortable and relaxed. It can become increasingly difficult to find a comfortable sleep position as your stomach grows during pregnancy, which could contribute to restless nights. You likely already have a preferred sleeping position that makes you feel the most comfortable, whether you typically sleep on your side, back, or stomach. But which of these sleeping positions is ideal for women who are pregnant?

Best and worst position for sleeping when pregnant

Under normal circumstances, we don't give too much thought to our sleeping positions, but your baby's health could depend on it during pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, pregnant women are encouraged to sleep in the SOS, or sleep on side, position. When you sleep in this position, blood circulation will be improved and less pressure will be put on your veins and internal organs, allowing more nutrients to reach your baby. Sleeping on either side is considered acceptable, but experts suggest that sleeping on your left side is best (per WebMD). 

Women who prefer sleeping on their backs will have to make some adjustments during pregnancy. Some experts believe that sleeping on your back while pregnant may be harmful to your baby. When you lie on your back during the second and third trimesters of a pregnancy, a major blood vessel that transports blood to your uterus could become compressed, as explained by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. This could result in decreased blood circulation to your fetus and can make you dizzy. 

Dr. Salena Zanotti, an OB-GYN, told Cleveland Clinic that a pregnant woman should avoid lying flat on her back for an entire night after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It may be easier to accomplish this if you put a pillow between your back and the mattress. This will ensure that you're in a slightly tilted position if you do roll over while you're sleeping.

Is stomach sleeping safe when pregnant?

We've covered the safety of sleeping on your side and back during pregnancy, but what about women who love to sleep on their stomachs? The good news is that sleeping on your stomach appears to be safe early in pregnancy. According to Healthline, stomach sleepers can continue sleeping in their favorite position until 16 to 18 weeks of pregnancy. 

Sleeping in this position may gradually become uncomfortable as the stomach grows larger. The digestion process can be slowed by sleeping on the stomach during the second trimester of pregnancy, resulting in heartburn and constipation (per MomJunction). Pregnant women who sleep on their stomachs could also have back pain from the extra weight putting pressure on their spine. Additionally, it's possible to experience neck and shoulder pain from sleeping on the stomach during pregnancy, as explained by MedicalNewsToday. This can make it challenging for someone to get a proper night's rest.

Despite being uncomfortable and painful for the mother, it's believed that sleeping on the stomach is unlikely to cause significant damage to a baby because the uterine walls and amniotic fluid will protect them, as explained by Healthline. However, when it comes to sleeping positions during pregnancy, nothing beats side sleeping. Pregnant women who find it difficult to sleep on their side can purchase pregnancy pillows and wedge pillows for extra support. Pregnancy pillows help encourage side sleeping and are available in U-shaped, J-shaped, and C-shaped versions (per WebMD).