The Effects of Sleeping on Your Back While Pregnant

Pregnancy can be challenging for many women. Although most expectant mothers find the aches and pains to be worth the reward, even the most physically fit mothers-to-be might find it difficult to sleep during the last trimester. Although lying on your back might be a comfortable position for sleeping, you might affect your baby negatively when you sleep in this position.

Lie on your side instead of your back. Credit: Catherine Yeulet/iStock/Getty Images

Maternal Woes

Experts recommend shifting to one side instead of sleeping on your back at the start of the second trimester. One reason for this recommendation involves the increased back pain that could result from sleeping on your back. Sleeping on your back might contribute to low blood pressure, breathing and digestive system problems and even hemorrhoids, according to the American Pregnancy Association website.

Bad for Baby

Sleeping on your side is better for the health of the developing fetus. When you sleep on your back, blood flow to the placenta diminishes because the weight of the uterus compresses the vena cava, the major vein that moves blood from the lower part of your body back to the heart.

Getting Comfy

Sleep on your side with a large pillow tucked between your bent knees or against your back to provide some support. Try tucking a pillow beneath your belly for extra support, as well. If you suffer from heartburn or have trouble breathing, sleep in a propped-up or sitting position. A recliner might offer a more comfortable night's sleep in the final weeks of pregnancy.

Helpful Tips

Lying on either side is acceptable, but positioning yourself on the left side helps keep the uterus from pressing on the liver, which is on your right side. Sleeping on your left side also increases the flow of blood and nutrients to the placenta and your kidneys, according to the KidsHealth website.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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