Rest Smart suggestions

Rest SmartSM simply means maternal positioning with gravity. Alignment promotes muscle relaxation and an open pelvis.


Wendy Left side

The hammock position

Think of your belly as a hammock and let the baby lie with his or her back settling into the hammock.

While in bed or on the couch, always use a pillow between your knees and your ankles (see above). This level support prevents your foot from hanging over the edge of the pillow and pulling, even slightly, on the hips. Asymmetry creates torsion (a twist) in the pelvic floor and hip joints.

Sometimes you may want to lie on either side, where one hip is directly over the other, like a right angle. In this situation, don’t lean back (at least not for long). Leaning back without proper support can give you a muscle cramp. Change sides frequently for comfort and to help the uterus be a little more symmetrical.

Crave a moment lying belly down? Make a little pillow nest to lay nearly on your tummy. Pillows prop you up and keep your weight off the baby. Use your breastfeeding pillow, curve your body pillow, or partially inflate a swim doughnut to dip your belly into the “nest.” Trust me, it’s very comfortable.

Which side should I sleep on?

Going to sleep and/or waking up on your left side seems to protect against unexpected stillbirths, as discovered in a New Zealand study. You obviously have little control over which side you wake up on, but you can learn to go to sleep on your left side!

If your care provider asks you to avoid a particular position, be sure to ask them why. It may be that monitoring of the baby’s heartbeat or your blood pressure shows that a particular position is not good for you at that time. This is always great information to have.

Changing positions may be good for the baby in general. Getting up to go to the bathroom one or more times a night seems to be protective of the baby’s wellbeing as well, as noticed by the same New Zealand researchers.

What most studies agree on is the many disadvantages of sleeping on one’s back. The weight of the womb in mid to late pregnancy can reduce blood flow that is now known to adversely affect the baby’s health.

Rest SmartSM positions support the balance you have regained with daily walking, stretches, and with professional bodywork. What positions to avoid resting in

There are times in pregnancy and labor when it is perfectly OK to lie on your back. During an exam, rolling over, doing exercises and getting body work, for example. But when you are resting, it’s better not to be on your back for the purposes of fetal positioning. You may feel comfortable on your back in the first half of pregnancy.

Towards the middle or end of pregnancy, your blood circulation will be better if you lay on your side than on your back.

You can lay on your left or right as comfort directs you. Fetal positioning may be a concern of yours, however. For instance, you had a posterior labor previously or a cesarean for a long or stalling labor. Then, your resting position may matter as early as the end of the first trimester!


You can also lie on your right side. The directions to lie on your left side are not meant to be a prohibition against laying on your right side. You can favor your left if your care providers suggest you lay on your left. But once in a while, you need to roll over just to give your left shoulder some circulation! Somewhere, there is a woman who must lay in one particular position and will have to ignore this advice in preference to her caregiver’s advice. I acknowledge that and hope you do, too.

Try the flashlight test

If this little light you’re bringing into the world could be seen shining through the thin skin of your navel area, that beam of light should aim down or straight while you’re resting. Don’t direct your beam of light upwards if possible. Lying on your back for a short exercise or exam is an obvious exception to this.

Rest Smart suggestions

Sit Up on Your Sitz Bones

When our knees are lower than the level of our hips and our back is upright, the great muscle pair which sweeps past the uterus from the spine to the top of the thigh bone can lengthen. A longer set of psoas (so-as) muscles allows for more ease in digestion, emotion, and birthing.  Sit on the front of your sitz bones, not back on your sacrum, to give your insides more room and less compression.

Many pregnant people need more support for their muscles and connective tissue than is available simply from keeping good posture in pregnancy. A lot of sitting or doing a single exercise can cause imbalances that may not show up until labor when baby goes lower. Give yourself a full advantage by doing body balancing techniques in our techniques section. Wonder where to start? Go to The Three Principles in Pregnancy.

Full url:

1Sit dynamically

Want more comfort in pregnancy?

  1. Restore body balance
  2. Increase range of motion
  3. Rest SmartSM

Check out our complete list of Comfort Tips.


Resting Smart in Labor/Labour

While opening with contractions and movements for your baby to turn and move through the pelvis, after a few hours you’ll likely want to change between upright positions and resting positions.

  • Lying on your side with your hips stacked (pelvis 90 degrees from surface)
  • Lying on your side with your top hip and leg leaning forward and resting on a pile of pillows or a peanut ball
  • All-fours resting over a birth ball, head of the bed, couch or pile of pillows
  • Sitting on your sitz bones
  • Sitting on your sitz bones backwards on a kitchen chair and leaning forward over the back of the chair


Rest during the night when it’s normal for you to rest. But rest in positions that don’t close down the part of the pelvis where baby is moving past.

Some Details

For some women, good maternal positioning is not sitting and leaning back against the birthing tub or the top of the bed.

Lay on your side in the birthing tub or bed, but don’t semi-sit for longer than a short time, if you have any history of a long or posterior labor, shoulder dystocia, or are experiencing a long second stage (pushing).

Is This Necessary?

Most of the time the baby will come out fine anyway, but its best to avoid this position for any longer than 15-30 minutes and avoid being spine-down for birthing your first baby (first vaginal birth).

We do see pushing reduced by minutes or hours when the nurse, midwife and doctor understand and use birth positions that open the outlet. 


What To Do?

Explore your body positions. Notice how your uterus tilts or aligns with your pelvis in different positions. Learn your body by observation, how it feels, and how it changes with what positions you use.

You can find Rest SmartSM positions on our Daily Essentials streaming video.

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