When to Stop Sleeping on Your Back During Pregnancy: Your Questions Answered

Sleeping while pregnant is a hugely important area to get right. After all, getting enough rest is essential for your and your baby's health. However, as your body changes during pregnancy, your usual sleeping positions may no longer be safe or comfortable, like sleeping on your back.

Around 8% of people sleep on their back, but this can be problematic during pregnancy* for a few reasons. While it might once have brought you great comfort, it can no longer provide the support you need as your belly grows.

There's no such thing as a silly question when it comes to your pregnancy, so we've compiled all of the questions we get asked the most to help you feel more relaxed and comfortable with all the changes.

Whether you want to know when to stop sleeping on your back during pregnancy or how to stop sleeping on your back while pregnant, we've got you covered.

When Should I Stop Sleeping On My Back During Pregnancy?

It's generally advised that pregnant women avoid sleeping on their backs after the first trimester.

As pregnancy progresses to the second trimester, lying on your back can potentially impact blood flow due to the weight of the baby compressing a major blood vessel, the inferior vena cava. This can affect circulation to both you and your baby.

To ensure optimal blood flow, it's recommended by the NHS to sleep on your left side during the second and third trimesters.


Is It Safe to Sleep on Your Back During Pregnancy?

While it's commonly thought that occasional back sleeping isn't severely harmful, consistent back sleeping during the mid-to-late stages of pregnancy is discouraged.

This is because the growing uterus exerts pressure on the inferior vena cava when lying on your back, which can lead to decreased circulation and potential complications such as dizziness, breathlessness, or a drop in blood pressure, which could affect your baby's supply of nutrients and oxygen.

Best Positions for Sleep During Pregnancy?

The best positions for sleep during pregnancy involve lying on your side, with the left side being particularly beneficial.

By adopting this position, the weight of the uterus is less likely to compress the inferior vena cava, ensuring optimal blood flow to the placenta and baby.

Utilising supportive pregnancy pillows can also help maintain comfort and provide the necessary support for your belly, back, and knees.

To find out more about the best pregnancy sleep positions, check out our blog post all about it: Sleeping Safely & Comfortably with Your Bump: Trimester by Trimester

What If I Wake Up on My Back When Pregnant?

Waking up on your back during pregnancy can be a common occurrence, even if you go to sleep in the recommended side position.

If you find yourself waking up on your back, don't panic. It’s quite normal as you shift your body during your sleep. Simply reposition yourself on your side for comfort and to ensure continued optimal blood flow.

Tips for Staying in Side Sleeping Positions in the Night

To help maintain a side sleeping position during pregnancy, consider the following tips:

  • Use a pregnancy pillows: Invest in a pregnancy pillow, like the SnüzCurve, to support your growing belly and help keep you comfortable on your side. These specially designed pillows can be placed between your legs, under your belly, or behind your back for added support.
  • Build a pillow fort: Arrange multiple pillows around your body for enhanced support. You can use one pillow under your head, one between your legs, and one at your back, creating a snug environment that discourages rolling over.
  • Modified reclining position: If you miss sleeping on your back, try a modified reclining position. Prop yourself up with several pillows behind your back, allowing you to be on a semi-upright incline which reduces the pressure on your vena cava.
  • Regularly switch sides: If one side becomes uncomfortable, it’s perfectly acceptable to switch to the other side. Keeping a pillow under your belly can provide the necessary support when you turn.
  • Set up for success: Before going to bed, create an environment that encourages side sleeping, such as placing a pillow or a rolled-up blanket against your back, which provides a physical reminder if you start to roll over.
  • Mind the mattress: A supportive mattress that conforms to your body can reduce the need to toss and turn. If your mattress feels too firm, a mattress topper could provide additional comfort.

Remember: while these tips can be helpful, every pregnancy is unique. It's important to work out what feels most comfortable for you and consult with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about sleep positions during pregnancy.

What Does Research Say About Sleeping on Your Back During Pregnancy?

Contemporary studies conducted in the UK have explored the impact of maternal sleep position on pregnancy outcomes.

Fascinating research published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology indicates that sleeping on the back during the third trimester can potentially double the risk of stillbirth. Experts believe this may be due to the effect on blood flow and oxygen supply to the baby.

The Midlands and North of England Stillbirth Study (MiNESS) further supports the advice to sleep on the side, highlighting that this simple change in sleep position could potentially save up to 130 babies' lives every year in the UK.

Obstetricians and midwives often emphasise these findings when advising expectant mothers on safe sleep practices.


How Do You Make Side Sleeping More Comfortable?

Making side sleeping more comfortable during pregnancy can be achieved through proven methods. We've broken this down into three areas that expectant parents ask us about the most.

Pregnancy Pillows for a Supported Sleep Position

Pregnancy pillows are thoughtfully designed to support your body as it changes, offering extra cushioning where you need it most. They help maintain proper spinal alignment, relieve pressure on your hips and back and can be placed between your knees to ease the strain on your joints.

With different shapes like C, U, or J, these pillows cradle your body, helping you find a comfortable side-sleeping position. This promotes the recommended left-side sleep during pregnancy, ensuring you can rest easier and feel more at ease throughout this special time.

We’ve designed the SnüzCurve Pregnancy Support Pillow with exactly this in mind. It's crafted to support you throughout the night, providing relief for your hips, knees, and back. Plus, its compact design means it won't take up too much space in bed, so you don't have to choose between comfort and your partner!

Reduce Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is a common concern during pregnancy, and it can become more prominent when you're trying to maintain a left-sided sleep position. To mitigate this discomfort, consider the following strategies:

  • Elevate your upper body: By propping up your head and upper body with pillows, you encourage gravity to keep stomach acids where they belong. This can mean less likelihood of reflux during sleep.
  • Avoid heavy meals before bedtime: Try to have your dinner at least three hours before you go to sleep. This gives your body ample time to digest the meal, reducing the chance of acid reflux.
  • Eat small, frequent meals: Instead of three large meals, eating smaller amounts more frequently can prevent your stomach from filling up and pushing acid up the oesophagus.
  • Monitor trigger foods: Identify and avoid foods that trigger your acid reflux. These can often include spicy, fatty, or acidic foods, as well as caffeine and chocolate.
  • Consult your healthcare provider: If lifestyle changes aren't helping with acid reflux, speak with your healthcare provider. They may recommend suitable antacids or medications that are safe to use during pregnancy.

Support Your Head Properly

Proper support for your head and neck is essential for comfortable side sleeping during pregnancy. Choosing the right pillow can help align your cervical spine and prevent strain. With correct support, your neck and shoulder muscles can relax, reducing the potential for stiffness or pain when you wake up.

Many maternity pillows are designed to provide the ideal height and firmness for maintaining alignment. Additionally, placing a small rolled-up towel under your neck can further support the natural curve of your spine.

Can I Lay on My Stomach During Pregnancy?

Lying on your stomach during the early stages of pregnancy is generally considered safe if it's comfortable for you.

As your pregnancy progresses, this position is likely to become less comfortable due to the growing bump. It's also advisable to avoid any pressure on your stomach as your baby develops.

Ultimately, the best guidance comes from listening to your body and consulting with your healthcare provider for personalised advice.

Find More Pregnancy Sleeping Tips At Snüz

As you navigate the various stages of pregnancy, understanding and adapting your sleep position can significantly enhance your well-being and that of your baby. Embracing side sleeping, especially on your left, and making use of supportive pillows and a proper mattress can make a world of difference.

Remember, each pregnancy is unique, so it's crucial to listen to your body and seek advice from your healthcare provider when necessary.

To learn more about sleeping during pregnancy, check out our blog post that answers all your pregnancy sleep-related questions.

*If you have concerns about the health of you or your baby, always consult a medical professional who's been overseeing your pregnancy. The advice in this blog should not be used as a substitute for medical guidance from your OB/GYN, GP, or health visitor.


At 14 weeks, back sleeping is generally safe, but as the second trimester progresses, it's recommended to start sleeping on your side, especially the left, to ensure proper blood flow and to avoid potential complications from pressure on the inferior vena cava by the growing uterus.

If you struggle to stay off your back, use body pillows for support. Try to fall asleep on your side, and if you wake up on your back, gently roll over. Consult your healthcare professional for personalised advice if you're concerned about it.

Sleeping on your back while pregnant can be permissible if you're propped up at a 45-degree angle. This incline can alleviate pressure on the inferior vena cava.

However, it's wise to consult with your midwife or GP for personalised advice, as UK health guidance tends to favour side sleeping.

Sleeping on either side is beneficial during pregnancy, but the left side is preferred. It provides better circulation to your heart and allows for optimal blood flow to the foetus, uterus, and kidneys. Always consult with your healthcare professional for advice tailored to your specific situation.

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