Are you one of the many pregnant women who can’t seem to get comfortable at night? Are you struggling to find a way to sleep through the night without waking up with a sore stomach? If so, you may want to consider using a pregnancy pillow. Pregnancy pillows are specifically designed to support your growing belly and help you get the rest you need during pregnancy. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of using a pregnancy pillow and recommend some of our favorite models. Read on to learn more!
Problem: Pregnant women often have a hard time getting comfortable at night and sleeping through the night. This lack of sleep can lead to fatigue, irritability, and health problems for both the mother and baby. Plus, many miss being able to sleep on their stomachs (tell us in the comments if that’s you).
A pregnancy pillow can help you get the rest you need during pregnancy. These pillows are specifically designed to support your growing belly and help you find a comfortable position to sleep in. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of using a pregnancy pillow and recommend some of our favorite models. Read on to learn more!
But first, how do I know all of this? Hi — I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I have helped thousands of pregnant patients become more comfortable using pillows. I have also given a LOT of “I just can’t sleep” advice to pregnant moms, so I think I’m a good resource here.
Can you sleep on your stomach when you are pregnant?
No, it is not recommended to sleep on your stomach when pregnant. Sleeping on your stomach can put unnecessary pressure on your belly and can cause you to feel uncomfortable.
However, in early pregnancy you will be fine to sleep on your stomach.
The problem is when you start to feel your uterus/baby as you lay there. At that point it’s probably best to NOT sleep on your stomach at that point.
I do have a post on best way to sleep to induce labor though.
What are the best pillows for pregnant stomach sleepers?
The best pillows for pregnant stomach sleepers are specifically designed to support your growing belly.
There are a few options:
This one is blow-up (so it doesn’t take up much space if you’re not using it) and has a full spot JUST for your belly.
This one seems more pillow-like, but also has an area carved out for your belly.
And this one looks like a raft. Might be good to watch TV or something on as you stretch out those tired muscles.
These pillows can help you get the rest you need by supporting your belly and providing you with a comfortable place to sleep.
How do you know if you’re a pregnant stomach sleeper?
Did you sleep on your stomach most of the time before? Then you might be missing it. These types of pillows aren’t too expensive, and you can at least see if they give you that “stomach time” you’re craving — but, safely.
Related post: Stomach gurgling during pregnancy
Is it important to sleep on your left side during pregnancy?
Yes, it has generally recommended to sleep on your left side during pregnancy. This position can help to improve circulation and prevent back pain. If you’re a pregnant stomach sleeper, consider using a pillow to prop yourself up on your left side.
However this study with the NIH showed there really wasn’t a difference. BUT, that study only went through 30 weeks of pregnanacy, so it’s not quite the study we need.
Personally, if you like your right side a lot more, I don’t think it’s much worse than your left.
However, your left side may prevent some heartburn. It makes it less easy for stomach contents to slip out of your stomach due to how the esophagus is connected to the stomach. That was always a perk for sleeping on my left side during pregnancy.
But of course, talk with your provider about the way YOU should be sleeping based on your specific needs and circumstances.
Love how I explain why some ways might be better than others with studies, professional and personal experience? Do not miss THIS CLASS to get more of that!
Can you sleep on your back during pregnancy?
While that study above showed there were no differences, most providers agree that sleeping directly on your back isn’t a great idea. It is possible that your uterus will collapse your vena cava (the large blood vessel that takes blood to your lower body/uterus).
However, I have been assured that if this happens, your body sends off alarm bells and tells you to move.
However a SMALL tilt while on your back can cause that uterus to tip off the vena cava and not cause this issue. So, just a pillow under one hip is enough for this.
I often used a body pillow and would either use it as a tilt or lay all the way on my side with it.
What is the Side Lying Release?
Labor nurses often use the side lying release to help patients get more comfortable in a labor bed (and often to help baby find their best way out).
The general idea is to lay ALMOST onto your belly. Your upper leg will then cross over and dangle it off the bed for a bit. You can learn more here.
As far as for a SLEEPING position dangling that foot doesn’t really work, so I’d scoot further into the midle of the bed and use a bunch of pillows to prop that leg up so that you’re still not lying on your belly, but you’re close.
You can either lay with your shoulders perpendicular to the bed hugging a pillow, or pull the back shoulder behind you, closer to how you’d lay on your belly.
You can do that on either side, and it can help those tight muscles relax.
However, if it’s not feeling great, don’t do it. 🙂 These positions are definitely not for everyone.
Other Issues Preventing Good Pregnancy Sleep
There are LOTS of reasons that sleep is hard during pregnancy, so sometimes a pillow doesn’t solve all of these:
- Bladder full — try to drink a LOT during the day up til’ about 2 hours before bedtime, and then be SURE to empty your bladder before bed.
- Leg Cramps — make sure you’re stretching & moving your body daily, taking your prenatal vitamin and also possibly adding some calcium (tums) or potassium (bananas) to your diet more often.
- Weird dreams — these are SO normal during pregnancy, try to calm your brain before bed.
- Anxiety — you might have things that worry you. While I can’t solve all of those, I can really help with any delivery anxiety here.
What are the benefits of using a pillow for pregnant stomach sleepers?
Pregnancy pillows can offer many benefits for pregnant women, including: relieving pressure on the stomach promoting better circulation preventing back pain helping you get a good night’s sleep using a pillow can help relieve pressure on your stomach by providing support for your growing belly. Additionally, these pillows can help promote better circulation and prevent back pain. Lastly, using a pillow can help you get a good night’s sleep, which is essential for both you and your baby.
There are a lot of good pregnancy pillows on the market (although you can also just use a body pillow like I mentioned above).
I like how this one supports your belly (those muscles get tight if you just let your belly “hang” without support when you’re on your side). You could also use a wedge like this. That wedge could also be used under a hip to just tilt you a bit if you’d prefer to lay closer to your back.
This one seems to have a great option no matter how you want to turn.
Areas to mindful for pillows during pregnancy sleep:
- Support your neck (but not lifting it too high)
- Supporting your belly so it’s not “hanging” if you’re on your side and more advanced in your pregnancy
- A pillow between your hips so they are more likely to relax
- Don’t forget your calf/ankle area if you have a larger pillow between your hips, don’t let you foot just dangle off.
What are the risks of using a pillow for pregnant stomach sleepers?
There are no real risks associated with using a pillow for pregnant stomach sleepers. However, the main risk is that sleeping on your stomach may just not feel the same. That pillow may not be your favorite and you may just miss how carefree you used to be before you had that baby in your belly.
So, give it a try but remember that once baby is out you’re welcome to sleep on that stomach. It feels SO good that first time you can actually enjoy your own body in your bed how you’d like to.
That is, until your milk comes in (but that discomfort won’t last too long, and then you can go back to your stomach). 🙂
Ok, now is the time to address your REAL issue with sleeping some nights — and that is anxiety about your hospital stay. In just 3 hours you can feel SO much more confident for your birth and be prepared to tackle it together! The Online Prenatal Class for Couples has helped tens of thousands of couples sleep better at night.
And, if you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that whole thing, check out my free prenatal class. It’s your first step toward getting in the driver’s seat of your birth.
- About the Author
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice.
She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.