Should I Sleep On My Side or Back When I’m Pregnant?

Should I Sleep On My Side or Back When I’m Pregnant?

Sleep is very important during pregnancy, and women frequently ask which position is best for them and their baby.  Like many common issues encountered in pregnancy, very little good quality evidence existed to tell us what was best – until now.

In the past, we advised women to sleep lying on their left side to lower the risk of stillbirth. This recommendation was made based on poorly designed case-control studies, and newer research indicates that this finding is inaccurate.

Recently, a well-designed study evaluated the impact of sleep position on pregnancy outcomes.  Researchers found that going to sleep on your back or right side was not associated with:

  • an increased risk of stillbirth,
  • babies with intrauterine growth problems,
  • or, hypertensive disorders.

Pregnancy represents a challenge to obtaining quality sleep, and many women find it difficult to get comfortable.  Sleep is important for everyone, especially women who are about to enter a time of their life where sleep deprivation from caring for a newborn is common.

Our best advice is to find a comfortable position in which to sleep – whether it is on your right or left side, or lying on your back. If you still have trouble sleeping, try a warm bath, massage or a cup of hot non-caffeinated tea or milk before bed.

If you have questions about this or other pregnancy related topics, talk with your obstetrician or call Marshall OB/GYN at 304-691-1400.

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David Jude, MD

Dr. Jude is a board-certified OB/GYN and professor and chair of the department of obstetrics & gynecology at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.