pregnant woman sleeping on left side

Sleeping on Your Side While Pregnant: 5 Surprising Benefits You Need to Know

Christopher Garvey Sleep Consultant and COO

Christopher Garvey

Meet Christopher Garvey, our professional sleep consultant! He's the lead writer for The Good Night Blog, where his tips and tricks help people sleep better and feel great. Christopher's insider knowledge and expertise are second to none, and his work is reviewed by our Medical Advisory Board to ensure that all advice is medically sound. With Christopher on your side, you can say goodbye to counting sheep and hello to sweet dreams!

Pregnancy is a beautiful, transformative period in a woman’s life but it comes with its share of challenges. One such challenge is achieving restful sleep. As the body undergoes significant changes and hormones fluctuate, it’s not unusual for sleep patterns to be affected. With a growing belly, finding a comfortable sleeping position can be a daunting task. However, healthcare professionals have widely recommended sleeping on your side while pregnant, especially the left side. This article delves into the benefits and considerations of side sleeping during pregnancy.

The Importance of Sleep During Pregnancy

Before discussing sleeping on your side while pregnant, it’s essential to understand the importance of sleep in general during pregnancy. Adequate rest is crucial for the well-being of both the mother and the growing baby. The body goes through numerous physical changes and demands more energy. Good sleep is vital for coping with these changes and ensuring a healthy pregnancy. It also helps with emotional well-being, which is equally important during this sensitive period.

Why Side Sleeping is Recommended

sleeping on left side for pregnancy

Optimal Blood Flow

Sleeping on your side while pregnant, particularly the left side, is often touted as the best sleeping position for pregnant women. This position benefits the baby by improving blood flow and ensuring optimal oxygen and nutrient supply. It helps in avoiding the compression of the inferior vena cava, a large vein that carries deoxygenated blood to the heart. Lying on the back may put pressure on this vein, reducing blood flow to the heart and, consequently, to the baby.

Reduced Back Pain and Heartburn

Sleeping on the side can also alleviate common pregnancy symptoms such as back pain and heartburn. By taking the weight off the spine and allowing for a more natural curvature of the back, side sleeping reduces strain on the back muscles. Additionally, this position can prevent stomach acids from moving up the esophagus, which helps in reducing heartburn.

The Science Behind Left-Side Sleeping

Researchers have delved into why specifically the left side is ideal. It turns out that sleeping on the left side while pregnant further reduces the risk of stillbirth compared to the right side. The left-side position is more effective in relieving the pressure on the inferior vena cava. This means even better blood flow to the fetus, placenta, and kidneys. It also helps in the optimal removal of waste products, thus contributing to a healthier internal environment for the baby's development.

Proper Technique for Sleeping on Your Side While Pregnant

Transitioning to Side Sleeping

If you are not a natural side sleeper, transitioning can be difficult initially. Here are some tips that might help:

The SOS (Sleep On Side) Position

When adopting side sleeping, it’s important to do it correctly. The SOS (Sleep On Side) position is when a pregnant woman sleeps on her left side with her knees and legs bent and a pillow between her knees. This position not only ensures optimal blood flow but also provides support and helps maintain the alignment of the spine and pelvis.

woman sleeping on her side using a support pillow

Using Pillows for Support

Pillows can be an expectant mother’s best friend. They offer support and comfort in various ways. One can place a pillow under the abdomen, between the knees, or behind the back. Additionally, sleep positioning pillows encourage side sleeping by gently rolling the head to its side naturally, ensuring the necessary support and proper spinal alignment. 

Gradual Transition

If you’re accustomed to sleeping on your back or stomach, gradually make the transition to side sleeping. Start by spending short amounts of time in this position, and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable.

Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment

Ensure your sleep environment is conducive to restful sleep. This includes a comfortable mattress, the right temperature, and a quiet setting. Investing in good-quality bedding can also enhance sleep quality.

Addressing concerns About Side Sleeping

Worries About Rolling Over

Some pregnant women worry about rolling onto their backs while asleep. While it's ideal to maintain the side sleeping position, occasional rolling is normal. To minimize this, you can use a body pillow, a wedge pillow behind your back, or a positional support pillow to provide a gentle reminder to stay on your side.

Finding the Perfect Pillow

Finding the right pillow for side sleeping is crucial for achieving optimal comfort and support during pregnancy. At our company, we've carefully crafted our positional support pillow to cater specifically to side sleeping needs. Through extensive research and development, we have created a pillow that strikes the perfect balance of support without being too firm or too soft. Our goal is to provide you with a pillow that is not only comfortable but also promotes proper alignment and encourages side sleeping throughout the night. To assist you in making an informed decision, we recommend reading our product reviews and consulting with healthcare professionals or other experienced mothers who have benefited from our positional support pillow. Stay tuned for the public launch of our pillows in August 2023!

Benefits of Right-Side Sleeping

While left-side sleeping is often considered the most optimal position, sleeping on the right side can also be beneficial. It still takes the pressure off the back and may be more comfortable for some women, especially if they have pre-existing conditions such as sciatica. If, for any reason, the left side is uncomfortable, alternating with the right side is a good option.

Listening to Your Body

Despite all the advice and recommendations, it is important to remember that each pregnancy is unique. What may work for one woman might not necessarily be comfortable or beneficial for another. Listening to your body and paying attention to what feels most comfortable is crucial. If a particular position is causing discomfort or pain, it’s a signal to try something different.

Consulting Healthcare Professionals

Regular prenatal check-ups are integral to a healthy pregnancy. Discussing sleep positions and any concerns with your healthcare provider is always advisable. They can offer personalized advice based on your health history and the progression of your pregnancy. If you experience severe discomfort, pain, or breathing difficulties in any sleep position, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider as soon as possible.


Sleeping on your side, especially the left side, during pregnancy has a myriad of benefits for both the mother and the baby. It promotes optimal blood flow, alleviates common pregnancy discomforts, and contributes to a more restful sleep. However, it’s important to listen to your body and consult with healthcare professionals for personalized advice. Creating a comfortable sleeping environment, using pillows for support, and gradually transitioning to side sleeping are practical steps to achieve better sleep during this precious period. Through understanding and implementing these insights, pregnant women can contribute positively to their well-being and that of their growing babies.

What positions should be avoided during pregnancy?

Based on information from Stanford Children, it is advised to avoid lying on your back, especially during the later stages of pregnancy. This is because the weight of the heavy uterus can exert pressure on the large blood vessels in your abdomen. Instead, it is recommended to lie on your side, keeping your body aligned and your knees slightly bent. It is also important to avoid twisting your body while in this position. By following these guidelines, you can help maintain optimal blood flow and minimize potential discomfort. Please consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice based on your specific pregnancy and medical history.

Why am I more comfortable sleeping on my right side?

Sleeping on your right side can offer increased comfort as it creates more space in the chest cavity.

How long can you sleep on your side when pregnant?

The duration for which you can sleep on your side during pregnancy is not limited. Sleeping on your side, particularly the left side, is generally recommended throughout the entire duration of pregnancy. This position helps promote optimal blood flow and provides the necessary support for your growing baby. It's important to prioritize side sleeping during the night, but occasional rolling onto the back or right side is considered normal. Remember to listen to your body, adjust your position as needed for comfort, and consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice based on your specific pregnancy.

What happens if I accidentally sleep on my back while pregnant?

Accidentally sleeping on your back while pregnant may temporarily compromise blood flow to the baby due to the pressure on the inferior vena cava. However, simply repositioning yourself onto your side, preferably the left side, can help restore optimal blood flow. Occasional accidental back sleeping is common, but prioritizing side sleeping is recommended. If you have concerns, consult your healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

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