It Hurts to Sleep on My Side While Pregnant

During pregnancy, sleeping can present a whole chapter of complications that you might never have considered. Your body has increased in size, and your bulging belly doesn’t make it easy to find a back pain or cramp-free position. So, what can I do if it hurts to sleep on my side while pregnant?

Change to sleeping on both sides- it’s recommended during pregnancy for your comfort and the safety of your unborn baby. The right side is alright, but the left helps improve blood circulation for maximum fetal nutrition. It also helps prevent the exertion of weight on your tummy by your liver, resulting in pain.

At various stages of your pregnancy, expect discomfort as the sleeping positions you’re used to result in back and hip pain. It’s also essential seeing as the quality of your rest will affect your health and that of your fetus. To find out which side to sleep on, let’s look at what research has proven and how you can eliminate the aches.

What Happens When I Sleep in the Wrong Position When Pregnant?

A widespread issue in pregnancy is where you’re facing discomfort and pain when sleeping on your side. During the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, your expanding girth makes it no longer comfortable or practical to sleep on your back or tummy. But extended nights lying on your side also cause spinal, shoulder, and sometimes ear pain due to pressure on the soft cartilage.

If you’re unable to get sufficient rest, expect major disruptions and complications that include maternal high blood pressure. That leaves you prone to, among other issues, preeclampsia, low birth weight, preterm labor, or miscarriage in worse-case scenarios. Sometimes, sleeping on your left side with your knees bent will likely become the more comfortable alternative as your baby bump grows.

But What Do You Do If It Hurts to Sleep on Your Side?

All comfort dissipates as you approach 26 weeks’ gestation and beyond, where every sleeping position causes muscle cramps and pain in your bones. Besides the discomfort, you may also experience dizziness, nausea, and weakness.

There are scientific reasons given for preference to sleeping on your left side. First, it keeps the baby’s weight from compressing the inferior vena cava, a large vein that carries blood from your legs and feet. Without this pressure, your heart has a more straightforward job circulating blood to your body, nourishing the baby in your uterus.

Proper circulation is also essential in reducing pregnancy-related swelling, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins in your legs. Another reason to sleep on your left side is the liver, one of the heaviest organs in your body. There’s no obstruction since it is on your right side, such as lying on the uterus.

Why Can’t I Sleep on My Back When Pregnant?

While no solution takes you back to pre-pregnancy sleep, sleeping on your left side is recommended over other options. As your unborn baby grows bigger, there’s a lesser chance of competing for space with your bodily organs or compressing vital arteries to cut off circulation.

When you’re undergoing complicated labor, your doctor will tilt you to that side, especially during a C-section. When you’re diagnosed with an abnormal heart rhythm, that’s the initial remedy.

According to one study, sleep on your back or stomach when pregnant carries numerous risks. That’s more defined as the trimesters count down and increased stillbirth rates at around 28 weeks. While other research has either confirming or contradicting findings, sleeping on your left side is considered ideal.

But what about the right side? Should you altogether avoid turning that way when sleeping? Not really; as early on in your pregnancy, you’re free to sleep on any side. But as the risk of uterus compression and vena cava obstruction increases, you’ll find that your left is by far more comfortable.

Why Does My Hip Hurt If I Sleep on My Side When Pregnant?

Hip pain isn’t abnormal when pregnant. As new life grows within you, your body makes allowances to provide your baby with space for temporary habitation. Specific hormones are released to deal with this, which means stretching or relaxing your muscles and ligaments. A significant toll is thus imposed on your bones, particularly in the lower back and hips.

That’s because the weightier your baby becomes, the more load your spinal column has to handle. Most of this support comes from your hips, while your enlarged uterus could be pressing down against the sciatic nerve. What you’ll feel is a tingling sensation or numbness in your lower back and hip, with an excruciating agony known as sciatica.

Your hips and lower back may also pain if your posture isn’t adequately supported when sleeping on your side. Give your legs and spine ample support during pregnancy, as that maintains a rigid skeletal structure that minimizes cramping.

How Can I Reduce the Hurt If I Sleep on My Side When Pregnant?

Having shortness of breath in your late pregnancy? Lying on your side while your chest is raised or propped up with pillows helps. You can also reduce back pains by sleeping on your left or right side. Use cushioning for the abdomen or a pillow between your legs.

Many moms-to-be also suffer nocturnal heartburn due to the digestive system slow down. Try propping up your upper body to prevent acids from boiling up from your stomach. Don’t fret if you’re rolling from side to side, as comfort is essential than having to wake up each time to correct your sleeping position.

If you have that option, select the most comfortable height for your bed so that you’re not bending too much when going to sleep. Your mattress should be firm and not too soft, which only adds pressure to your back and stomach.

Seeing as pregnancy hormones have interfered with your average body temperature, you’ll feel comparatively warmer at night. Chose bedding, air conditioning, or ventilation to allow room temperatures that match your body’s warmth for a comfortable and restful sleep. 

By keeping your mind relaxed, you’ll stress less and sleep better. You can’t help if you’re switching sides throughout the night but pay more emphasis to the left side. Sufficient sleep is essential when pregnant as soon as the baby comes, you and shuteye will become strangers.


Always speak with a health practitioner whenever you’re feeling exceedingly uncomfortable or if it hurts to sleep on your side when pregnant. In the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, you’ll find it difficult to sleep throughout the night. Your system has increased sensitivity, enlarged circumference, and there’s also your unborn baby’s size or movements to consider. Listen to your body, change positions and try supporting your frame with pillows.