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What to Know About Sleeping on Your Back While Pregnant

last year4 min read
Last updated: Jan 23 2023

Along with drinking heaps of vino and indulging in your favorite sushi, sleeping on your back while you’re pregnant gets a bit of a bad rap. But why is it such a no-no? And how bad is it really?

Sleeping on Your Back While Pregnant

We’re going to explore why sleeping on your back might be risky, and how you should try to sleep instead.

In this article: 📝

  • What are the risks of sleeping on your back while pregnant?
  • Can you sleep on your back while pregnant?
  • What happens if you accidentally sleep on your back while pregnant?
  • How long can you lay on your back when pregnant?

What are the risks of sleeping on your back while pregnant?

Why does sleeping on your back come with a warning?

Well, it mostly comes down to the inferior vena cava.

The what, you ask?

The inferior vena cava is a large blood vessel that carries blood back and forth between your heart and your uterus.

When you’re not pregnant, you wouldn’t normally give it much thought.

But as your belly grows during pregnancy, sleeping on your back puts pressure on this important vessel.

Compressing it can make you feel dizzy and reduce blood flow to your baby.

This can be pretty serious.

One study found an increased risk of stillbirth among women who slept on their back for the whole night.

This study isn’t conclusive, though, and doesn’t account for other contributing factors.

Even so, it’s worth bearing your inferior vena cava in mind.

You want to make sure that the blood inside it is flowing as freely as possible for the health of both you and your baby.

Can you sleep on your back while pregnant?

Argh. Unfortunately, the best advice is to avoid sleeping on your back as much as you can while you’re pregnant.

This is especially important after the 20-week mark, when your belly will start to get bigger and heavier.

During your second and third trimesters, try to sleep on your side with one or both knees bent.

To keep you comfy, and to stop yourself from rolling over in your sleep (especially if you’re prone to sleeping on your back), consider investing in a pregnancy pillow.

Different pregnancy pillows do different things, but all are designed to make you as safe and comfortable as possible when you sleep. Shop around for the one that feels right for you.

What happens if you accidentally sleep on your back while pregnant?

Don’t worry, mama. It’s not the end of the world if you wake up on your back one morning. Just try to be conscious of it.

Again, propping yourself up with a pregnancy pillow can help.

We’ve put together a handy guide on how to sleep when you’re pregnant that will answer a lot of your sleep-related questions.

How long can you lay on your back when pregnant?

This is a tricky thing to quantify.

Sleeping on your back for an hour or two probably won’t cause any harm to you or your baby, but experts don’t recommend that you sleep on your back all night.

Pay attention to the signals you’re getting from your body.

If you sleep too long on your back, you might feel light-headed or have trouble breathing.

These are sure signs that you should shift onto your side.

As long as you don’t sleep flat on your back for extended periods of time, you and your baby should be fine.

And as for the left vs right-hand side debate?

Again, this comes down to the inferior vena cava.

Since it’s on your right-hand side, sleeping on your left is preferable.

But this isn’t critical. Sleeping on your right-hand side is fine, too.

What matters most is that you’re getting quality sleep, mama.

Pregnancy fatigue is real.

As are the, um, creative newborn sleep schedules on the horizon.

Look after yourself.

Looking for more pregnancy dos and don’ts? Take a look below:

Hernia While Pregnant? What to Know
Caffeine and Breastfeeding: What to Know
Can You Get a Tattoo While Pregnant?
Can You Have Sex While Pregnant?
Can You Dye Your Hair While Pregnant?
Can You Take Probiotics While Pregnant?
Can You Tan While Pregnant?
Reasons for Dry Mouth When Pregnant (And What To Do)
Can You Get a Tooth Pulled While Pregnant?
Can You Kayak While Pregnant?
Can You Get Your Nails Done While Pregnant?
Can You Ride Roller Coasters While Pregnant?
Can You Go to the Chiropractor While Pregnant?

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