Sleeping During Pregnancy

Updated on January 26, 2008
J.J. asks from Livermore, CA
8 answers

I am 4 months pregnant & just read in my 'your pregnancy week by week book' that I should begin sleeping on my side & never on my back. I am a back sleeper & the last 2 nights of trying to be only on my side the whole night has been really difficult. I had such bad all day morning sickness up until last week that I have only gained 2 pounds since becoming pregnant.
I was wondering if this whole sleeping on your side stuff is really for when you are bigger? Since I am still so small I am comfortable on my back but I know when I am large & lopsided it will be easier to be on my sides....What have your Dr's or your personal experiences taught you about this? (I will call my Dr. this week also to get her opinion)

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answers from San Francisco on

When I was pregnant, I was considered "high risk" as I was diagnosed with partial placenta previa at 12 weeks along (i had some major bleeding), so it was very important for me to follow the rules that my OB set out for me. I was ALWAYS a stomach and back sleeper, and so went into specifics with my doctor about this (he is a high risk/infertility OB schooled at Stanford) and this is what he said: lay however you want including back, stomach, etc. until it is uncomfortable for you - your body will let you know what is an okay sleeping position and what is not. Since you are not far along at all, you are still safe sleeping in any position you wish as there is NO risk to your fetus because it is still completely within and protected by everything in your abdomen including organs and fat. I was able to sleep on my tummy until I was about 5 1/5 months pregnant (I was very small, though) and slept on my back until it became uncomfortable for me at the end of my 6th month.
Now, sleep however you are comfortable, especially with the morning sickness: I lost 15lbs my first trimester because I was SO ill with "all day" sickness - your body will let you know soon enough what is comfortable and what is not. This is the LAST thing you should be stressing about at this point - focus on trying to eat frequent and well balanced meals, despite the fact that you may be nauseaous all day and all night. You have to force yourself to eat and drink for the good of your baby - try to get as much sleep now as you can, as it will get harder and harder to sleep well the further along you become. Focus on keeping yourself and your body as healthy as possible, and dont sweat the small stuff like sleep positioning or the one cup of coffee you have a day.
Good luck!



answers from Stockton on

during pregnancy, sleeping on your back is not good, the weight of your uterus and baby is putting pressure on your spine, your organs as well as the major blood vessels that runs down your back and legs(believe it is called the vena cava) this can cause cramps major back ache and possible swelling. i am and always have been a stomach sleeper, i was able to get away with it till i was about 3 months preo as i got big and fast, it doesnt feel good to be lying on what feels like a watermelon. in time you will learn to sleep on your side, till then when you relax lay on your left side to get use to it then soon enough you will be able to sleep on your left side when you go to bed at night, if not then the weight of the baby will cause such back pain you will have no choice to sleep on your side., which will relieve the back pain. hope this helps



answers from Bakersfield on

Along your back runs the a major Vein (venacava) it allows oxygen to get to your baby and your legs... It is effected when you get bigger. What happens when you are on your back is the pressure of the baby and your new weight don't allow blood flow. you can sleep tilted even one inch from the bed. as long as you are not completely on your back. I put a pillow under my right side and slept fine I too am a HUGH back sleeper. Anyway you will get numb feet, cramping, or tingling when your feet don't have enough oxygen.. which means baby isn't getting it either... Just be careful.. I am sure you fine right now..



answers from San Francisco on

Hi J.,
Congratulations on your pregnancy!
I was told that I could still sleep on my back until I was really showing and big with baby (probably around 6 or 7 months). By then, you will not be comfortable sleeping on your back since the baby will put a lot of pressure on your lower back and vena cava. But if you're 4 months, I would just try to sleep as comfortably as you can (even if that is on your back), and slowly work yourself into the side sleeping position (left side is best). Use lots of pillows - behind you, in front of you and under your hips - and eventually the side sleep will work.
Best of luck!



answers from San Francisco on

First off, congratulations.

I had the same issue last year when I was pregnant. This is what my doctor said. The reason you're not supposed to sleep on your back is because the weight of your uterus can pinch down on your vena cava (the big vessel that returns the blood from your lower body to your heart.) The bad news is that even being only 4 months along your uterus is still big enough to effect you vena cava. The good news is that when this happens you'll get sick to your stomach and wake up before anything really bad can happen.

This is what I did. I got a really firm body pillow from Target and started sleeping with this wedged behind my back so that if I started to roll onto my back I couldn't make it all the way. Eventually I learned to sleep on my side. Oh and some people will tell you that you should sleep on your left side. My doc said that the difference of left vs. right is negligible at most(I sleep easier on my right so this was a concern for me.) So as long as you're on one of your sides it doesn't matter which one it is.

And try some ginger tea for the morning sickness, it really helped mine. I had the ginger lemon Yogi tea.



answers from San Francisco on

i can relate! went thru the same thing, had similar thoughts. so i asked drs and nurses and experienced moms and the consensus was clear - try to be comfortable on your back as that position allows the most nutrients from your placenta reach your baby and is most healthy for her/him. in fact, most would also stress that sleeping on your back can be harmful to the baby as it can retard placenta growth. all that said, i did sleep on my back when i was small - i too didn't gain much weight - maybe 1-2 times a week and my baby was fine and is now very healthy and happy. but i did have complications with gest diabetes and preeclampsia with the delivery.




answers from Sacramento on

Sleep however is most comfortable for you---SLEEP now because you will need all your strength for labor and delivery and the first few months! When you get REALLY big sleep on your left side. Baby wont let you lie on your back--he/she will throw a kick fit for sure! Best wishes--don't take it all too seriously this should be FUN!



answers from San Francisco on

Along the lines of what Cassie said, my doctor suggested that I put a pillow under my right side so that my pelvis was tilted when I slept, as I tend to roll onto my back. My doc said that in the hospital if they have pregnant women on their backs, they just put a saline bag under the right side of their bottom, which is what the pillow would do. However, you might notice that the bigger your belly gets, the more comfortable it will be to sleep on your side.

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