Is it OK to Sleep on Your Right Side While Pregnant?

Pregnancy is a beautiful journey filled with excitement, anticipation, and, let’s be honest, a fair share of discomfort. One of the most common questions I get from expecting mothers is about sleeping positions. 

I remember a close friend of mine, who was pregnant with her second child, tossing and turning at night, worried about whether her favourite right-side sleeping position was safe for her baby.

Yes, it's generally safe to sleep on your right side during pregnancy, but left-side sleeping is often recommended as the optimal position. Left-side sleeping can improve blood flow and reduce the risk of complications, though right-side sleeping is still considered safe for most women.

Why Does Sleeping Position Matter During Pregnancy?

woman laying on her right side when pregnant

Your sleeping position during pregnancy is more important than you might think. Not only does it impact your comfort, but it also plays a significant role in your overall health and your baby’s well-being. Proper sleeping positions can help reduce back pain, improve circulation, and prevent certain complications.

The wrong sleeping position can also lead to potential complications. For example, sleeping on your back, especially in the later stages of pregnancy, can increase risks to your baby by compressing the vena cava, which we will go into more detail on shortly. But let's not forget another critical aspect of sleeping positions: being well-rested.

Quality sleep is essential during pregnancy because it helps your body recover and stay healthy. Poor sleep can lead to increased stress, impaired immune function, and difficulty managing the physical demands of pregnancy. Additionally, good sleep supports emotional well-being, which is crucial as you prepare for motherhood.

Finding and maintaining the right sleeping position helps ensure that you stay comfortable and get the rest you need, making it easier to navigate the challenges of pregnancy and support your baby’s development.

Is It Safe to Sleep on Your Right Side During Pregnancy?

Comfortable pregnant woman on her right side sleeping with pregnancy pillow

While left-side sleeping is recommended as the optimal position during pregnancy, sleeping on your right side is also generally safe, though slightly less ideal. The most important thing is to avoid sleeping on your back. 

Left-side sleeping is best because it promotes better blood flow and supports organ function, but if you find yourself more comfortable on your right side, that’s still much better than sleeping on your back. Alternating sides can also help prevent aches and improve overall comfort.

Left vs Right Side Sleeping

Pregnant woman sleeping on her right side with pregnancy pillow

Left Side

Sleeping on your left side is often recommended as the “ideal” position during pregnancy. This position helps maximise blood flow from the inferior vena cava (IVC), a major vein that runs parallel to your spine on the right side. Optimal blood flow ensures that blood reaches your heart efficiently, providing essential nutrients and oxygen to your baby.

Another advantage of sleeping on your left side is that it relieves pressure on your liver and kidneys, allowing these organs to function more effectively. This can help reduce swelling in your hands, ankles, and feet by promoting better fluid balance in your body.

Right Side

While sleeping on your left side is ideal, it doesn’t mean you must avoid the right side entirely. Research indicates that sleeping on either side is generally safe. 

There is a very slight risk of compressing the IVC when you sleep on your right side, but this risk is minimal compared to the benefits of finding a comfortable position. The key is to prioritise your comfort while ensuring good blood flow and organ function.

What Are the Risks of Sleeping on Your Back During Pregnancy?

As mentioned, sleeping on your back can cause your uterus to press against the vena cava, leading to reduced blood flow and potential dizziness or lightheadedness. 

This position can decrease circulation to both you and your baby, potentially leading to complications. Research indicates that back sleeping in late pregnancy may be associated with an increased risk of stillbirth, making it crucial to avoid this position.

How Can a Pregnancy Pillow Help Maintain a Safe Sleeping Position?

woman laying on left side while pregnant on maternity pillow

Pregnancy pillows come in various shapes, such as C-shaped, U-shaped, and wedge-shaped, each designed to support different parts of your body.

A wedge pillow, like our Butterfly Maternity Pillow®, can be placed behind your back or under your belly to keep you comfortably on your side. 

Using a wedge pillow helps prevent rolling onto your back and provides targeted support to ensure you maintain a safe and comfortable sleeping position.

Are There Any Exceptions or Special Considerations?

Always consult with your healthcare provider if you have specific medical conditions that might affect your sleeping position.

Some women may need to make adjustments based on their unique needs and comfort levels. Listen to your body and seek professional advice if necessary.

FAQs About Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy

Can I occasionally sleep on my right side while pregnant? 

Yes, occasional right-side sleeping is generally considered safe, but left-side sleeping is preferred.

What if I wake up on my back during the night? 

Simply reposition yourself to your side; occasional back sleeping is usually not harmful.

Can I use regular pillows instead of a pregnancy pillow? 

Regular pillows can help, but pregnancy pillows are specifically designed for better support.

How early in pregnancy should I start worrying about sleeping positions? 

It's best to start focusing on sleeping positions by the second trimester, or even earlier to establish good habits.

What positions should be avoided during pregnancy? 

Avoid sleeping on your back, especially in the third trimester, to prevent pressure on the vena cava.

Can I lay on my stomach while pregnant in the third trimester? 

No, lying on your stomach is not recommended as it can cause discomfort and pressure on the baby.

Why do I feel pain when I sleep on my right side during pregnancy? 

Right-side sleeping can sometimes cause discomfort due to pressure on internal organs. Adjust your position or use a pillow for support.

Closing Thoughts

Finding the right sleeping position during pregnancy is crucial for your comfort and your baby’s health. While left-side sleeping is often recommended for optimal blood flow and reduced risk of complications, sleeping on your right side is also generally safe. 

At Butterfly Maternity, we understand the importance of a good night’s sleep during pregnancy. Our Butterfly Maternity Pillow® is designed to help you maintain a safe and comfortable side-sleeping position, providing targeted support where you need it most. Check out our high-quality maternity pillows and experience the difference for yourself. Sweet dreams and comfy nights await!

*The shape of the Butterfly Maternity Pillow® is a registered trade mark of Weekly Sales Pty Ltd


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