How To Relieve Back Pain During Pregnancy While Sleeping

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It is very normal for pregnant women to feel back pain, particularly during the first trimester. In fact, 50% of pregnant women will experience back pain in some way. Unfortunately, back discomfort while sleeping may be very bothersome and uncomfortable to cope with, particularly when other pregnancy symptoms are present as well.  This blog post will guide you in dealing with back pain during pregnancy to aid you to sleep better during this period.

Back Pain During Pregnancy

What Causes Pregnancy-Related Backache?

During pregnancy, your body undergoes numerous physical changes, which can place strain on your back and body. Firstly, while your body prepares for labor, your ligaments become loose and stretched which can impair your posture and place stress on your joints [1].

 Sciatica is a condition caused by the compression of nerves triggered by changes as a result of pregnancy.  This condition causes severe back pain and does not allow you to sleep. This pain radiates from your lower back and hips to your feet [2].

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Additionally, weight gain and increased fluid retention as a result of pregnancy also put pressure on the sciatic nerve, producing sciatica.

Furthermore, in the late trimester of pregnancy, the majority of women will experience a change in their center of gravity due to weight increase, which can result in poor posture.

For instance, you may find yourself bending backward more frequently, putting strain on your back. This weight gain may also cause your muscles to tense, resulting in lower and upper back discomfort at night.

All of these changes are a normal part of pregnancy, but fortunately, there are a number of safe ways available to alleviate back discomfort during pregnancy while sleeping.

How Can I Sleep Without Back Pain With My Pregnancy While Sleeping?

If you’re pregnant, you need to keep your knees and legs bent and place a pillow between your legs to alleviate back strain While sleeping.

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Use the “SOS” posture and place a pillow under your abdomen if you are experiencing back pain.  This will help decrease stress on your back which may increase your pain.  

Any cushion will suffice, although there are pillows designed specifically for pregnant women who sleep on their sides. They may come in various sizes and shapes. Choose the cushion that works best for you, even if it’s only a standard pillow. The additional support behind your back might provide extra support for your back and hips. 

Additionally, another major advantage of sleeping on your left side is that: the vena cava flows slightly to the right of your spine; therefore, you may have heard that laying on your left side during pregnancy is the healthiest position [3].

Moreover, your liver is located on the right side, therefore sleeping on the left side prevents the fetus from squeezing that organ.

Therefore, it is safe to assume that during pregnancy, sleeping on your side is preferable to sleeping on your back.

Furthermore, if you prefer the right side, it is not a major issue. While doctors encourage sleeping on the left side, many pregnant women continue to switch positions throughout the night.

So, what occurs when you awaken in the middle of the night on your back? Don’t worry about it. Simply roll onto your side or prop your body up with a pillow to change your position.

Moreover, in late pregnancy, shortness of breath is possible. To prevent this issue, try lying on your side or using cushions for support.

These options may not sound entirely comfortable, especially if you are accustomed to sleeping on your back or stomach, but you should give them a try. You could discover that they work. Keep in mind that you should not sleep in a single posture the entire night; because sleeping on your back can increase the pressure on that side leading to back pain. So, switching positions may seem to be an acceptable option.

What Sleep Positions Should I Avoid During Pregnancy?

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1. Sleeping On Your Back

Sleeping on your back can cause breathing difficulties, backaches, digestive issues, hemorrhoids, low blood pressure, and a decrease in blood flow to your heart and baby. This occurs when your expanding abdomen presses against your intestines and main blood veins (the vena cava and aorta). As one gains weight, sleep apnea might also develop.

2. Sleeping On Your Stomach

As your pregnancy progresses, your breasts become more sensitive and your abdomen continues to expand, both of which make sleeping on your stomach uncomfortable. Using a donut-shaped pillow (with a hole in the middle) may make stomach sleeping more comfortable.

During pregnancy, you may find yourself fighting for comfort in bed before falling asleep.  That is because, during pregnancy, your body undergoes different changes that make your usual sleeping postures ineffective.

Additional Ways to Sleep Better During Pregnancy

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1. Limit Caffeine

Try not to consume coffee or tea containing caffeine after 3 p.m because normally, adenosine accumulates in the brain while we remain awake. The more it accumulates, the drowsier we get. Caffeine inhibits this process, according to research, keeping us alert and aware. Caffeine disrupts circadian melatonin rhythms4, delaying the beginning of sleep if eaten close to bedtime[4].

2. Drink A Lot Of Water

 Drink a lot of water throughout the day, but stop drinking a few hours before bedtime so you don’t have to get up to use the restroom.

3. Exercise For 30 Minutes

For better sleep, you need to exercise 30 minutes a day.  Exercise n improves sleep, but refrain from exercising within four hours of sleep time.

4. Leisurely Activities

A foot or shoulder massage, or a warm bath, will help you relax and will help you sleep better.

5. A Calm Bedroom

Keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet at night will aid in falling asleep and staying asleep.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why Is Back Discomfort During Pregnancy Worst At Night?

Nighttime aggravation of lower back pain is caused by a growing uterus exerting pressure on the vena cava, a major blood vessel, and blood vessel congestion in the pelvic and low back.

Why Does My Back Hurt When I Wake Up During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy can strain the muscles of the lower back. This lower back discomfort can be exacerbated in the morning following an extended duration of sleep, resulting in persistent stiffness and muscle tension. Try stretching and using your legs to stand up instead of putting pressure on your back to alleviate discomfort and pain.

What May Pregnant Women Take For Severe Back Pain?

Most women can safely use acetaminophen (Tylenol) during pregnancy. “Aspirin” and “nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines” (NSAIDs) including “ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)” and “naproxen” (Aleve) are not recommended.


1. KidsHealth. Sleeping During Pregnancy. 2016.

2. Kim, S. K., Kang, S. J., Hong, K. K., & Choi, C. M. (2019). A Clinical Case Report on Traditional Korean Medical Treatment Including Hwangryunhaedok-tang Pharmacopuncture for Low Back Pain with Sciatica during Pregnancy. The Journal of Korean Obstetrics and Gynecology, 32(2), 138-147.

3. University of Rochester Medical Center. Blood Circulation in the Fetus and Newborn.

4. Burke, T. M., Markwald, R. R., McHill, A. W., Chinoy, E. D., Snider, J. A., Bessman, S. C., Jung, C. M., O’Neill, J. S., & Wright, K. P., Jr. (2015). Effects of caffeine on the human circadian clock in vivo and in vitro. Science translational medicine, 7(305), 305ra146.

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I am Dr. Aniqa Agha graduate from King Edward Medical University. I did major in Physical therapy. I am also a professional content writer for over four years experience in content writing. During these years, i have written numerous research articles, health blog posts.