How Should UK Pregnant Women Adjust Their Sleeping Positions to Improve Comfort?

Whether you are pregnant for the first time or you are already an experienced mother, sleep during pregnancy can be a challenge. As your belly grows, finding a comfortable sleeping position becomes more difficult.

A study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology states that the sleep position during the final months of pregnancy might be a key factor in reducing stillbirth. So, how should you adjust your sleeping habits to improve comfort and ensure the health of your baby? In this article, we will explore the best sleep positions during pregnancy, and provide tips on how to get a good night's sleep.

The Importance of Sleep During Pregnancy

Sleep is more than just a luxury during pregnancy – it’s a must. As many of you may have experienced, pregnancy can take a toll on your body, making rest and recovery essential. But it's not only about your comfort; the quality of your sleep can also impact your baby's health.

Sleep deprivation can lead to higher levels of stress hormones, which can affect your baby's growth and development. While good sleep supports the healthy growth of your baby, it also prepares you for the physical demands of caring for a newborn.

Choosing the Best Sleeping Position During Pregnancy

The position in which you sleep during pregnancy can have a significant impact on your health and comfort. Despite your usual sleeping habits, your growing belly will likely compel you to adjust your sleeping positions.

The most commonly recommended position is sleeping on your left side, also known as the SOS (Sleep On Side) position. This position helps increase the amount of blood and nutrients reaching the placenta and your baby. Make sure to keep your legs and knees bent, and put a pillow between your legs.

Right-side sleep is also acceptable, but left-side sleep might be more beneficial. However, it's vital to remember that every woman's body is unique, so what works for one may not work for another. It's essential to listen to your body and adjust your sleep position as needed.

Sleeping Positions to Avoid During Pregnancy

While adjusting to new sleeping positions, it's equally important to avoid certain positions that could potentially harm you or your baby.

Back sleeping, for instance, should be avoided, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. This is because the weight of the growing uterus can compress major blood vessels, leading to decreased blood flow to your baby and causing discomfort for you.

Sleeping on your stomach should also be avoided once your bump starts to grow, as it might be uncomfortable and potentially unsafe for the baby.

Helpful Accessories to Improve Sleep Comfort

To help you adopt new sleeping positions, there are a variety of accessories available that can provide additional support and comfort. Pregnancy pillows are particularly popular, as they can support the belly and relieve pressure on the hips, back, and joints.

Choose a pillow that fits your body size and sleep habits. There are several types on the market, including wedge-shaped pillows that support your belly and full-body pillows that provide all-around support.

Another helpful accessory for pregnant women is an adjustable bed. These beds allow you to elevate your head and feet, which can alleviate discomfort and help you find a comfortable sleeping position.

Tips for a Good Night's Sleep During Pregnancy

Beyond your sleeping position, there are other factors that can influence your sleep quality during pregnancy.

Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. This can help regulate your body's internal clock and make it easier for you to fall asleep at night.

In addition, consider your diet. Avoid caffeine and large meals close to bedtime, as they can interfere with your sleep.

Creating a sleep-friendly environment can also be beneficial. Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. You might also find it helpful to use a white noise machine or earplugs to block out disturbing noises.

Pregnancy can be an exciting but challenging time, and getting a good night's sleep is crucial for both your health and your baby's. By adjusting your sleeping positions and following these tips, you can enjoy a more restful sleep, making your pregnancy a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

The Scientific Evidence on Sleep Position during Pregnancy

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that suggests the sleep position a pregnant woman adopts can have a significant impact on the health of her unborn baby. A meta-analysis of several observational studies published in The Lancet noted a strong association between maternal sleep position and late stillbirth.

A case control study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology also reported that women who slept on their backs in the third trimester had at least twice the risk of stillbirth compared to those who slept on their left side. The reasoning behind this is that side sleeping, particularly on the left side, improves maternal blood flow, ensuring that the baby receives a sufficient supply of nutrients and oxygen.

Research has also shown that adopting a left side sleeping position can help alleviate common pregnancy discomforts, such as back pain, heartburn, and shortness of breath. The increased blood flow from left side sleeping can also benefit the kidneys, helping to eliminate waste products and reduce swelling in the ankles, feet, and hands.

While these findings are significant, it's essential to avoid stressing about staying in one position all night. Pregnancy can already bring with it a host of discomforts and anxieties, and worrying about your sleep position shouldn’t add to these. Remember, the goal is to start sleep on your left side, but if you wake up in another position, simply reposition and go back to sleep.

The Role of Pregnancy Pillows for Better Sleep

Pregnant women often find it challenging to maintain a comfortable sleeping position throughout the night. This is where a pregnancy pillow can come in handy. Pregnancy pillows are specially designed to support the unique curves and contours of a pregnant woman’s body, helping to alleviate discomfort and promote better sleep.

The unique shape of a pregnancy pillow can provide support where it’s most needed – under the belly, behind the back, between the knees, or even under the head. This can help relieve the pressure on the hips, back, and joints, allowing for a more comfortable sleep.

There are various types of pregnancy pillows available on the market. Full body pillows, for instance, are excellent for providing all-around support, while wedge-shaped pillows can be used to prop up the belly or support the back. Regardless of the type of pillow you choose, it's important to select one that fits your body size and sleep habits.


Getting a good night's sleep is crucial during pregnancy, not just for the expectant mother's health and well-being, but also for the development and growth of her unborn baby. Adjusting the sleep position can play a significant role in enhancing maternal sleep comfort and improving blood flow to the baby.

While left side sleeping is usually recommended, it's important for pregnant women to listen to their bodies and adjust their sleeping positions as needed. Investing in a good quality pregnancy pillow and maintaining a regular sleep schedule can also contribute to a more comfortable and restful sleep.

Pregnancy is an exciting journey, filled with joy and anticipation. However, it can also bring with it certain discomforts and challenges. By being mindful of your sleeping habits and making the necessary adjustments, you can ensure a more comfortable and healthier pregnancy experience.