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Good Posture During Pregnancy

What Is the Best Position for Sleeping and Lying Down During Pregnancy?

In general, pregnant women should try not to lie flat on their back or directly on their stomach. Lying on your back, especially in the third trimester, causes more work and stress on your heart: In this position, the baby's weight can put excessive pressure on the inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood from the feet and legs, pelvis, and abdomen back to the heart, reducing blood flow to the placenta. In addition, sleeping on your back can actually cause you to have a backache!

Lying on your stomach during pregnancy is not likely to be very comfortable. More importantly, lying on your stomach should be avoided because it can put added pressure on the fetus and reduce blood flow.

Don't be too concerned if you shift positions in the night; this is a normal part of sleeping that you can't control. Most likely, if you end up lying on your back or stomach, the discomfort will wake you up. 

Some doctors recommend that pregnant women lie on their left side in the third trimester to allow for the best blood flow to the fetus, uterus and kidneys. Because your liver is on the right side of your body, lying on the left side also helps keep the uterus from pressing on that large organ.

No matter what position you lie in, a pillow should be under your head, but not your shoulders, and should be a thickness that allows your head to be in a normal position to avoid straining your back. You may also want to put a pillow between your legs for support. Use your pillows to discover a comfortable sleeping position. Several special "pregnancy" pillows are sold on the market that may help you sleep better.

Try to sleep in a position that helps you maintain the curve in your back (such as on your side with your knees slightly bent and with a pillow between your knees). Do not sleep on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest.

Select a firm mattress and box spring set that does not sag. If necessary, place a board under your mattress. You can also place the mattress on the floor temporarily if necessary.

If you have always slept on a soft surface, it may be more painful to change to a hard surface. Try to do what is most comfortable for you.

When standing up from the lying position, turn on to your side, draw up both knees and swing your legs to the bed’s side. Sit up by pushing yourself up with your hands. Avoid bending forward at your waist.



WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on August 22, 2014

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