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Can Sleeping on My Stomach Harm My Unborn Baby?

author image Rebekah Richards
Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.
Can Sleeping on My Stomach Harm My Unborn Baby?
A pregnant woman is sleeping on her side. Photo Credit: Zoran Zeremski/iStock/Getty Images

Sleeping on your stomach puts pressure on your unborn baby. If it's early in your pregnancy or you're simply trying to conceive, you should try to get in the habit of sleeping on your side, so when you are further along, sleeping this way comes naturally. Sleeping on your side protects your unborn baby and puts the least stress on your body, too.

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While sleeping on your stomach puts pressure on your baby, sleeping on your back reduces blood flow to the fetus and puts extra pressure on your back and intestines. When you sleep on your side, your unborn baby gets the better blood flow and you experience better kidney function. Putting pillows between your knees or underneath your belly can help support your body as you sleep.

Improving Sleep

Many factors cause pregnant women to sleep poorly, including hormone changes, stress, leg cramps, weight gain and frequent urination. If you're having trouble sleeping, make sure you go to bed and get up at the same time every day. In addition, only use your bed for sleeping and sex. If you wake up frequently to go to the bathroom, try drinking most of your liquids earlier in the day and cut back before bedtime. If you're stressed out, practice the breathing exercises you learn in your childbirth classes and talk to your doctor about more ways to stay calm.

Fighting Fatigue

Fatigue and exhaustion are common in pregnant women, especially during the first and third trimesters, according to This occurs because your body uses lots of energy to help your unborn baby develop. If you're tired, reduce your activities during the day and take naps. Going to bed a little earlier can also help you get enough rest.

Importance of Sleep

Getting enough sleep while you're pregnant is important. A study published in October 2010 in the journal "Sleep" found that sleeping less than six hours a night in early pregnancy is associated with high blood pressure. The study also found that women who slept five hours a night or less had a much higher risk of preeclampsia. However, the same study reported that women who slept more than 10 hours a night in their first trimesters also had an increased the risk of preeclampsia.

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