Can I Lie On My Stomach While Pregnant?

Pregnant woman lying on bed

aywan88 / Getty Images

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Getting quality sleep can become more of a challenge during pregnancy. You may be completely exhausted and need more shut-eye than usual or your baby bump may make it hard to get into a comfortable resting position.

If you are a stomach sleeper, you may also wonder whether your preferred sleeping position is safe now that you are carrying a developing baby. You may even worry that lying down on your stomach to relax or stretch could hurt your baby. Turns out that you cannot hurt your baby by lying on your stomach while pregnant, but once you are further along you might not be able to do it anyway.

"Lying on your stomach is fine during pregnancy, but it may be harder to do in the third trimester," says Kim Langdon, MD, an Ohio-based OB/GYN with more than 20 years of experience.

While there are certainly a lot of dos and don'ts during pregnancy, lying on your stomach is not forbidden. Here's what you need to know about lying on your stomach while pregnant including how it may even benefit you in some cases.

Lying on Your Stomach During Pregnancy

If you want to lie down on your stomach or sleep all night in that position during pregnancy, go right ahead. Research indicates that sleep position does not have any negative effects on the fetus throughout the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.

After that point, there may be risks associated with lying on your back or your right side, but not your stomach. Lying on your stomach may actually be one of the positions you can relax in while pregnant!

"A pregnant woman lying on her abdomen does not harm the baby in any way," says Peace Nwegbo-Banks, MD, a board-certified OB/GYN and creator of Unwind & Chat events.

If you get your best rest in the prone position, you may want to use a donut pillow, like a Boppy, or bolsters to help you lie comfortably as your baby bump grows. Position the donut pillow so that your baby bump falls right into the donut's center.

However, you may find that you simply cannot get into this position later on in pregnancy, or it just is not comfortable. In this case, find another safe position, like your left side, or balance halfway between your side and your back (the lateral decubitus position). Lying on your left side or in the lateral decubitus position keeps you from putting pressure on important blood vessels that may restrict blood flow to your baby later in pregnancy, notes Alan Lindemann, MD, an obstetrician and maternal mortality expert and co-author of “Modern Medicine: What You’re Dying to Know,” a consumer action guide about how to navigate the United States healthcare system.

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about lying on your stomach while pregnant.

Is It Safe for Baby?

Overall, lying on your stomach while pregnant will not hurt your baby. So, if this is your preferred sleeping position, or if you like to lie on your stomach to relax, you can rest assured that you are both safe. But, as your belly grows, you may find that this position is no longer your go-to.

"[Lying on the stomach] can cause discomfort for the mother as her uterus grows, but it has no impact on the fetus," notes Dr. Nwegbo-Banks.

On the contrary, lying on your back or right side can harm your baby if you are 28 weeks along or further. Always check with your health care provider if your pregnancy is high risk or if you have any questions or concerns about lying on your stomach during pregnancy.

Benefits of Lying on Your Stomach During Pregnancy

Lying on your stomach while pregnant may help you stay comfortable and help you avoid lying in positions that are not considered safe. Here are some ways you may benefit from lying on your stomach.

May Promote Better Sleep

If you sleep best on your stomach, know that you can rest safely in your preferred position. Sleep is not always easy to come by when you have a baby on the way. Whether it is anxiety about becoming a parent or you are overwhelmed by pregnancy-related fatigue, anything you can do to get the rest you need helps.

If you want to sleep in the prone position but it proves challenging with your baby bump in the way, try using pillows or a bolster for support. Lie over a donut pillow, such as a Boppy breastfeeding pillow, so that your bump has some space to hang down.

May Help You Avoid Unsafe Positions

Lying on your stomach is fine during pregnancy, but there are other positions that are not always safe as your pregnancy progresses. Choosing the prone position may help you ensure that you do not lie in other, unsafe positions.

After week 28, you should avoid lying on your back. Sleeping or resting in this position may compress the inferior vena cava, a major vein that returns blood from your lower body to your heart. Meanwhile, resting on your right side later in pregnancy may compress the aorta, the main artery responsible for pumping blood throughout the body.

Compressing either the inferior vena cava or the aorta may decrease blood flow to your baby. It can also lead to preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure during pregnancy.

May Relieve Muscle Soreness

Standing or sitting up all day with the weight of your baby bump pulling your torso forward can leave you with an aching lower back and tight hips. Lying down in the prone position may help you release your sore muscles so you can find some relief.

Safety Precautions

While lying on your stomach is generally fine to do during pregnancy, always listen to your body. If it hurts or feels uncomfortable, choose another position.

You also should talk to a healthcare provider if you have any concerns. Together, you can decide the best sleeping position for you as well as discuss whether or not it is recommended for you to lie on your stomach while pregnant.

A Word From Verywell

Lying on your stomach during pregnancy is not considered dangerous for you or your baby. It may even help you rest better as well as allow you to avoid lying in other, unsafe positions like on your back or right side.

Once this position becomes uncomfortable, you can try using a donut pillow or bolsters for support. Or, you can try the lateral decubitus position, which is halfway between flat on your back and totally on your side.

Avoid lying flat on your back or on your right side, especially after 28 weeks of gestation. Talk to a healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the best sleeping position for you.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Silver, RM, et al. Prospective evaluation of maternal sleep position through 30 weeks gestation and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2019. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000003458

  2. Cronin RS, Li M, Thompson JMD, et al. An individual participant data meta-analysis of maternal going-to-sleep position, interactions with fetal vulnerability, and the risk of late stillbirthEClinicalMedicine. 2019;10:49-57. doi:10.1016/j.eclinm.2019.03.014

  3. Warland J. Back to basics: avoiding the supine position in pregnancy: PerspectivesJ Physiol. 2017;595(4):1017-1018. doi:10.1113/JP273705

By Elisa Cinelli
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR and Scary Mommy, among others.