How to Sleep When You’re Pregnant: Best Positions, Tips and Tricks

Working out how to get to sleep when you’re pregnant is like a combination mind game, contortionist act and magic trick. Getting to sleep - and staying asleep - as your belly grows can seem almost impossible. We uncover the best positions, tips and tricks for sleeping when you’re pregnant - for both you and your bub.

1. Side-sleeping is best

Going to sleep on your back places pressure on blood vessels, reducing the blood, oxygen and nutrient supply to your baby. It’s also associated with an increased risk of stillbirth.


A global research study published in 2019 found that blood flow is reduced by 80 per cent when you sleep on your back due to the uterus compressing your major blood vessels. Sleeping flat out also partly compresses your aorta, the main artery from your heart. This decreases blood flow to bub by about 30 per cent.


While stillbirth is rare, side-sleeping reduces the risk by more than half. It’s even more important in your last trimester, which is why we created the Butterfly Maternity Pillow to support your back, cradle your bump and provide comfort and stability in the side-sleeping position.

2. Right or left? Choosing a side

There’s a reason the American Pregnancy Association call the best sleeping position “SOS” (sleep on side) - side-sleeping is healthiest for your baby, providing increased blood and nutritional flow to the placenta. And it’s comfier for you too, especially as your bump grows and creates tension in your lower back.


While left-side sleeping is recommended, don’t sweat it. Sleeping on either side is safe, says Professor Lesley McCowan from the University of Auckland’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, in a recent study. “The left and right sides were equally safe which means pregnant women have a choice of settling to sleep on their left or right side.”

3. Leg cramps and hip pain

Physiotherapists recommend sleeping in a posture that maintains the natural curve in your lower back. Sleeping on your side with your knees bent can help maintain alignment in your spine.

4. Ease your back

Doulas and birth educators recommend propping your belly and/or back with pillows to help maintain the safer side-sleeping position and ease back pain. 


Often it’s the pressure on your lower back or hips that wakes you or causes you to toss and turn all night long. Sleeping with knees slightly bent, hips stacked and lower back supported helps to disperse the pressure so you can sink into sleep.


A well-designed maternity pillow that moulds to your shape and supports both bump and back can be the magic trick you’re looking for.

5. Room temperature matters

The ideal temperature for sleep is 16-18C. But add a pregnant woman, her partner, a full body pregnancy pillow and a jumble of other cushions into the bed and your sleep zone can swiftly feel like a sauna.


To keep your room cool, opt for natural air flow, cotton sheets, and layers you can kick off as the room heats up. We designed the Butterfly Maternity Pillow specifically to support your sleep - its compact size won’t take over your bed, it doesn’t need to be repositioned when you roll over, the cotton cover keeps you cool and it hugs both your back and belly in one pillow.

6. The wee little matter of your bladder

You get on your side, position your maternity pillow, close your eyes . . . and you need to go to the toilet again. Increased bodily fluids, super efficient kidney function and your uterus pressing against your bladder are to blame. 


Sure, you can try to reduce the amount you drink before bed, but night-weeing is often just part of pregnancy no matter what measures you take. Your best bet is to roll with it - get up, go, get back to bed and into position as quickly as possible so you can slip back to sleep, pronto. The double-sided Butterfly wings in the Butterfly Maternity Pillow mean you don’t have to wrestle a full length pillow around your body in the middle of the night. Just slide into the sheets and snooze.

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