Nature does everything to make sure that the baby has a lovely stay in mommy’s womb till its all strong and capable for the world. But is it safe to sleep propped up while pregnant?

Every woman may not have the exact same pregnancy as the next woman’s.

There are certain obvious issues that all pregnant women go through.

One of the most common problems reported right next to experiencing back pain is the deteriorating quality of sleep as the pregnancy advances.

A study was conducted in 2016 of approximately 2,400 women in an attempt to comprehend better the sleep-related issues women face in each of the trimesters.

According to this research, 76% of the women reported poor sleep quality during pregnancy, more increasingly so in the third trimester.

We also did some research on online forms and found that the general population who either were pregnant or had been in the past believed that it was okay to sleep in any position one finds comfortable.

Because, while first-time mothers may do so for it all being new, second or third time pregnancy is a different experience altogether for having kids already. So it is safe to assume that the general population of pregnant women does sleep on their backs, for whatever period they find it comfortable to sleep in.

But the question remains, despite the majority believing it, that is it safe to sleep propped up while pregnant?

So, let us answer this question.

Is It Safe To Sleep Propped Up While Pregnant?

The short and simple answer is no. It is not safe to sleep propped up while pregnant. But it is not something that will cause immediate harm.

So if you accidentally wake up on your back after reading this, please do not be alarmed. Sleeping on your back for short periods or accidentally sleeping on your back will not harm you or your baby.

Doctors recommend that sleeping on your left side is the best position for a pregnant woman.It is both comfortable for you and favourable for the baby.

But, what happens if you actually lying on back during pregnancy propped up? And what exactly is the extent or magnitude of the harm?

When you’re pregnant, the weight of your abdomen presses on to your intestines, bladder, and major blood vessels.

As your belly grows in size, the pressure on your back grows, making it difficult to maintain the body posture you had earlier.

The preexisting pressure on the back, and the additional pressure from the outside on the back when you sleep on it can cause:

  • Backaches
  • Breathing issues
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness

In some cases, it can extend to cause digestive problems or, in extreme conditions, haemorrhoids.

Don’t know how this happens? Let me explain.

Like we explained earlier, the weight of the uterus presses down on your back.

But in the process, it presses on a vital vein called the inferior vena cava.

It’s a large vein running down your back and under the right side of the uterus.

It is responsible for bringing back blood to the heart from your lower body.

This compression of the vena cava for more extended periods of time occurs when you sleep on your back.

This causes a drop in blood pressure, consequently making you dizzy as well.

Still don’t understand?

See it for yourself with this animated video to develop a better understanding of how sleeping on your back can put pressure on your Vena Cava.

Now while this seems irreversible, it is in typical cases.

But, there is always a risk in rare cases, where a decrease in blood pressure can sometimes reach a level where it starts affecting the overall output of the heart, lowering blood pressure enough to cause you to faint.

While fainting does not sound ‘all bad,’ the lack of oxygen in the blood may perhaps not harm the mother, but it can harm the baby.

As the mother’s oxygen level decreases, so do the baby’s.

That is where we understand the ‘extent’ of the harm of sleeping propped up on your back in pregnancy.

This problem is particularly alarming in people who already suffer from blood pressure imbalance, heart conditions, or diabetes.

Both these conditions can affect how much oxygen and nutrients reach the developing baby.

So, I hope now you have the answer to your question, “Is it safe to sleep propped up while pregnant?“, But there is still more to read, so keep reading to the bottom of the article.

How Bad Does It Get?

research conducted in NewZealand within this decade showed that there was a strong link to a mother’s sleeping positions and stillbirths.

Women who slept on their back or on their right side on the previous night (before stillbirth or interview) were more likely to experience a late stillbirth compared to women who slept on their left side (adjusted odds ratio for back sleeping 2.54).

It mentioned how sleeping on your back, especially during the third trimester (28 weeks of pregnancy), raised the chances of stillbirth, which was found to be 4 in a 100.

According to a 2017 study, researchers from the University of Auckland, factors associated with late (third trimester) stillbirth described the importance of maternal sleep position where non-left-sided sleeping, particularly supine, was found to be associated with an increased risk of stillbirth.

This emphasizes the fact that sleeping on the back during the third trimesters can increase the chances of stillbirth.

We understand how ugly this sounds, but this is not to scare you or give you anxiety. Thinking about what position you sleep in at all times can prevent you from a comfortable deep sleep.

Or we do not want you to wake up and think of whether any time during the night you ended up sleeping on your back.

This is research; while it is reliable, it still needs to be carried forward, and this possibility needs to be proved further before it can be taken into account by every single pregnant woman.

What If I Accidentally Fall Asleep On My Back?

Check out this video from IntermountainMoms,

I hope this helps you answer your question.

What Do I Do For Comfortable Sleep?

The best way to sleep when pregnant is to prop up a few pillows behind you, as to support your lower back and place a few beneath your legs so that you can easily lean back.

Speaking of pillows, there are specially designed pregnancy pillows of different sizes and shapes, catering to all possible discomforts of a pregnant body.

Propping yourself up on the pillows makes it more comfortable to sleep on your side when pregnant. 

It not only helps with the back pains, but it also deals with heartburn during the night.  If you wake up during the night, make mental notes to check what position you are in constantly.

If you wake up on your back or on the right side, do not panic or get nervous. Switch positions, get comfortable and go back to sleep.

Another great option is a full-length body pillow, also called full-length pregnancy pillows. These are great to sleep with. They help you prop up your body, especially with the belly sticking out since it molds to the body shape regardless of the body type of the mother.

It wedges between the knees for additional comfort. They not only help you with the sleeping position but back pain and general comfort as well.

I hope you found our “Is it safe to sleep propped up while pregnant” guide informative and useful that helps you to make a valuable decision in the future.

Final thoughts

For a pregnant woman, especially in the third trimester, sleeping on the left side appears to be the best option. Propped up positions can provide additional support and comfort.

However, answering the question, whether it is safe to sleep propped up while pregnant, we conclude that it is not safe entirely.

In the first and second trimester, it is not as harmful. Despite that, risks should be avoided at all costs.

Make sure that you sleep as peacefully as possible. If you are having trouble with comfortable sleeping positions or sleeping itself, speak to your doctor.

Now, it’s your turn, let us know whats you think, is it safe or not, Put your answer in the comment box and let me know if you have any other questions.

Don’t forget to share the article because sharing is caring.​

Sakshi Patel

Sakshi Patel

Senior Content Writer

Sakshi Patel is a busy Mom who enjoys spending most of her time with her cute daughter and a pet dog. She joins us as a senior content writer, and because of her creative writing style, has become our top-rated content writer