Sleeping discomfort during pregnancy: Causes, Postures and Positions

Sleeping discomfort during pregnancy: Causes, Postures and Positions

Discomfort while sleeping, and therefore being unable to get enough sleep, is a very common issue during pregnancy. Most pregnant women find it very difficult to sleep through the night during their pregnancy phase because of a number of reasons. This discomfort while sleeping reaches its peak in the third trimester of pregnancy for obvious reasons such as enlarged girth, growth in size of baby and the overall increase in sensitivity and complications being the last trimester. Of course you can try different positions to try to get some sleep but you need to be careful choosing the right position according to your current stage of pregnancy.

Not all sleeping positions are equally safe at every stage of your pregnancy. With the increasing belly size and overall increasing complications during pregnancy, a woman has to go through various symptoms that cause sleeplessness during her pregnancy. A few of those causes are mentioned below.

Causes of Sleeping Discomfort during Pregnancy

Increasing belly is the most obvious cause of sleeping discomfort during pregnancy. As the size of your belly keeps increasing, sleeping on your stomach starts becoming a ‘no go’ for expecting mothers. And, as your normal pregnancy proceeds, it is followed by various signs and symptoms that add to the discomfort during sleep. Insomnia is yet another common issue faced by pregnant women. The worst part is, due to their growing and changing body and because of pregnancy hormones, expecting mothers tend to feel drowsy throughout their pregnancy and yet, this drowsy feeling is not easily converted into sound sleep (or in some cases, any sleep at all).

Although it is highly recommended to get proper rest for your body and mind by trying to get good sleep during pregnancy, sleepless night during pregnancy are very commonly observed by expecting mothers. So if you are facing insomnia, rest assured you are not the only expecting mother facing that. However, if you are concerned that this sleeplessness may be negatively affecting your health and your overall pregnancy, seeking your doctor’s help is highly advisable.


Shortness of breath is also commonly observed by expecting mothers and is one of the biggest causes of sleeping discomfort during pregnancy. The main reason of shortness of breath during pregnancy is the increased size of your tummy which makes breathing a bit difficult. You need to keep your chest a bit higher with upward posture during pregnancy to help reduce breathing issues and this will ultimately help you sleep better. Seek emergency medical care if excessive shortness of breath is experienced. Heartburn is another common symptom during pregnancy.

The feeling of heartburn causes discomfort and results in not allowing the pregnant mother to get much sleep. Keeping your head high and body in inclined position has been observed to help with pregnancy heartburn since this prevents the acid from jumping up the esophagus. To learn more on how to deal with pregnancy heartburn, read here.


Back Pain during pregnancy is again faced by most pregnant women and the severity tends to increase with the increasing tummy size and weight. Back pain during pregnancy is yet another cause of discomfort while sleeping for expecting mothers. Further, women who do not follow a healthy pregnancy diet tend to gain a lot of weight during pregnancy and such pregnant women face backaches more severe compared to expecting mothers following a healthy pregnancy diet.


Stress, a no-brainer, is mentioned by some as the biggest of all issues during pregnancy. Not only it causes sleepless nights during pregnancy but it also can lead to other health complications during pregnancy. A large number of expecting mothers go through baby related stress. Health professionals (doctors) highly advice expecting mothers to do activities to help control stress.

Ways to Release Stress

Exercise during pregnancy is often performed by women as a measure of controlling and avoiding stress. Remaining calm and relaxed will help you go through this period well.


Sleeping with your partner: However, it is observed that pregnant women who sleep with their partners tend to be more relaxed as it helps reduce their stress and provides them with comfort! Here’s to all the partners out there, to show love to your girl when she needs it most! Soft cuddle while sleeping and your partner’s hand gently placed on your belly is a good stress releaser!

Ideal sleep positions in the first trimester

Sleeping on your stomach during pregnancy is not a good idea. However, if you do enjoy sleeping on your back, try it! Sleeping on your back until the first trimester is generally considered safe.


In the first trimester, your tummy has not grown as big yet since your baby very small at this stage. However, pregnancy is a very sensitive phase of your life and it is very important to listen to your body. You may try and observe any position as far as your body allows and you as far as you are not exerting yourself too much. You can also try sleeping side-ways to your right or left side.

Ideal sleep positions in the second and third trimester

You can definitely not sleep on back starting fourth month of your pregnancy. Sleeping on your back puts a lot of pressure on your blood vessels due to your enlarged tummy and increased weight. It slows down the flow of blood throughout your body as well as to your baby. You would also find it difficult to breathe while sleeping on your back. Moreover you would also face upset tummy issues. However sleeping on your tummy is complete No No, due to enlarged size of your uterus and breasts. Moreover some pregnant women also face problems of hemorrhoids, blood pressure and problems of digestion due to sleeping on their back.


During second and third trimesters you can try sleeping side-ways, either to the right or left side. However sleeping on left side is the best position to opt for. It helps better blood flow throughout your body as well as helps in the smooth flows of nutrients to your baby. Sleeping side-ways on your left hand side is considered the safest position for you and your baby. Although changing sides during third trimester becomes a problem in-itself. Sleeping on left side helps reduce putting body weight on your baby and on your liver.


Using Pregnancy Pillows

Use pregnancy pillows to help reduce back pain. Sleep on your left side and put the pregnancy pillow under your tummy and between your knees. It will reduce pressure on your back and you would feel more comfortable.

Helpful Tip(s)

Choose a comfortable height level of your bed, so that you do not need to bend a lot, while climbing on bed. Mattress should not be too soft, as it will put pressure on your tummy and back, rather try using a firm mattress for better comfort and sleep. Choose the best suitable temperature for you, as pregnancy hormones also changes body temperature. Majority of the pregnant women feel weather comparatively warmer than others. Try maintaining a relaxing and most comfortable position for yourself.

However it is difficult to sleep on one position throughout the night but sleeping on left side is the safest position for you and your baby. Stress less and keep your mind and body relaxed. Try getting as much sleep as possible during pregnancy, as you might not be able to sleep much after your baby’s birth. You can try yoga for pregnant women as well as meditation during pregnancy to stay calm. Swimming is also considered good exercise during pregnancy.