Solutions for Better Sleep During Pregnancy

After the first trimester, many women feel a renewed sense of energy — morning sickness is over (or at least maybe less severe) and exhaustion is replaced with feeling only slightly tired. But somewhere around the 15th week of pregnancy, when it’s no longer comfortable to sleep on your stomach or back, nighttime sleep can become a problem. As your pregnant body grows, you’ll be spending most night sleeping on your side. Extended side sleeping can cause back, shoulder, hip and even ear cartilage pain, all of which causes disruptive sleep and a rough start to your day.

There are things you can do to prepare for a better night’s sleep. Keep in mind, however, that no solution will take you back to pre-pregnancy sleep, nor is it is guaranteed to help at all when it comes to the late third trimester!

Proper Support

Sleeping on your side puts added stress on your shoulder, hips and lower back. Pregnancy pillows aren’t just a “nice to have,” they help provide your body with the support and alignment it needs during pregnancy. The long, cylindrical, U-shaped pillows provide excellent comfort throughout pregnancy. They can be pricey (ranging from $30-$100), but it’s money well spent. Before buying new, ask around to see if a friend would be willing to loan theirs out.

Don’t have a pregnancy pillow? A few extra regular pillows strategically placed can help you achieve the same support and comfort. Optimally, you’ll have one for your head, one for your belly/rib cage, 1-2 between your legs and one to hug. For a visual, check out this video:

Your mattress can also impact how well you sleep — and not just during pregnancy! A firm mattress is not ideal for side sleeping. It’s not practical to go out and purchase a new mattress just for the sake of pregnancy, but a good mattress topper can make a big difference. Many women swear by the “memory foam” style mattress pads. I can personally attest that they are wonderful during pregnancy. The special foam both conforms to and supports just the right spots, leaving you with virtually no aches in the morning.

Potty Breaks

Pregnancy makes you thirsty. Pregnancy also makes you pee more frequently. Ah, the beauty of it all! Staying hydrated is important for you and your baby’s health during pregnancy. And unfortunately, drinking less in the evening will not necessarily prevent you from waking during the night to urinate.  Don’t cut back on liquids, but having your last big drink an hour before bedtime may help.

Adjust Your Bedtime

Pregnant or not, you should be getting a consistent 7-8 hours of sleep per night. But if you’re like many of us, 5-6 hours is more likely the case. Pregnancy is NOT the time to shortchange yourself on sleep! Your body is growing new life (hard work!) and needs adequate time to rest and recover. Sleep deprivation won’t necessarily affect your baby, but it will affect you.  Your bedtime is typically one of the few things you can control during pregnancy. Want to know how? Simple math: Subtract 7 or 8 hours from the time you need to be awake. Subtract an additional 45 minutes — 15 minutes for your bedtime hygiene routine and 30 minutes to unwind in bed and fall asleep. This is your new bedtime. Stick with it!

What have you done in your pregnancy to achieve better sleep?

Avatar of Cara TerreriAbout Cara Terreri
Cara began working with Lamaze in 2004, two years before becoming a mother. Three kids later, she's a full-fledged healthy birth advocate and the Site Administrator for Giving Birth with Confidence. Most recently Cara began study to become a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and DONA certified doula (learn more about her services at She continues to stand in awe of the power and beauty in pregnancy and birth, and enjoys helping women discover their own power and joy in the journey to motherhood.


  1. Mara says:

    I actually slept best when I listened to Hypnobabies CDs when I fell asleep at night when I was pregnant. It helped me get really relaxed and sleep all night! :)

  2. Anna says:

    You can do it all with two to three pillows if it is all memory foam. Memory foam is harder and you don’t need to stack it up to provide elevated surfaces. I have memory foam mattress, one regular memory foam pillow and one long and thin body pillow – also memory foam. I sleep just like shown in the video cited in the article by using my body pillow between legs, under belly and hugging it at the same time;) Memory foam mattress makes it possible because if you add good memory foam pillow under your head you don’t have to support your shoulder – mattress just takes care of it. Pillows were not very expensive ($25-30 each), but mattress was. I can only say that I have it for 5 years now, and it doesn’t show any signs of use, so it was worth every penny. This mattress also does not need a box spring, so that kind of makes it not that expensive.

  3. Avatar of Cara Terreri Cara Terreri says:

    Anna– Thanks for the additional input and tips on memory foam pillows! I am actually using a couple of memory foam pillows under my hips right now (at 20 weeks) to ease with the aches and so far, so good!


  1. [...] comfort to help you stay asleep during pregnancy, and Giving Birth With Confidence recently posted this helpful article on better sleep during pregnancy. These are certainly important, as if you are uncomfortable you will not sleep as well than if you [...]

  2. [...] Solutions for Better Sleep During Pregnancy [...]

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