Pregnant women like to sleep, but it does not mean they get a good night’s rest every time. If you’re having trouble getting a shut-eye, check out these safe sleeping positions during pregnancy that you can try.
Quality sleep is one of the key pillars to overall good health and is especially important during pregnancy. A pregnant woman who gets less than five hours of sleep a night, is at an increased risk for conditions such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, according to experts.
Seeing as how sleep is such an integral part of nourishing your body and contributing to your growing foetus‘ health, pregnant mums can take time to indulge in what must be a very welcome end to an exhausting day of growing a baby!
Sleeping While Pregnant
As you approach the different hurdles brought forth by the three trimesters, one complaint probably stays the same throughout – try as you might, you cannot seem to get comfortable enough to sleep!
From frequent bathroom trips to the pressure (and sometimes pain) a growing bump puts on your body, let’s look at the various reasons for your discomfort and examine safe sleeping positions during pregnancy throughout each of the three trimesters.
Adequate sleep is important for a pregnant mother and her growing foetus. Photo: iStock
Why is it difficult for me to get comfortable?
Pregnancy brings a host of changes and these, in turn, tend to disrupt your sleep. There are various reasons that make it especially difficult for you to get to sleep during pregnancy, and here are a few of them:
However, regardless of what you are experiencing, it is important to try to get a good night’s sleep.
Complications Caused by Wrong Sleeping Positions
With sleep being such an integral part of your body’s recovery process, let’s examine the different sleeping positions that are safe for you throughout the three trimesters of your pregnancy.
Safe Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy: First Trimester
You can take it easy in the first trimester. Despite the discomfort that may arise out of myriad changes taking place in your body, the advice from experts is that any sleep position is fine during the first trimester of your pregnancy.
According to Dr Sara Twogood, an OB-GYN at the University of Southern California, you would not have to change your sleeping position until you hit the second trimester.
“Before 12 weeks, you can sleep any way you want. A lot of women have breast tenderness or sensitivity, so many aren’t comfortable sleeping on their stomachs early on. But it’s just discomfort—it won’t cause any harm,” she notes.
However, with all the increasing and compelling evidence about the risk of stillbirth associated with a supine sleeping position in your third trimester.
It is always better if you could practise early. So that by the time you reach that part of your pregnancy, you would have gotten accustomed to sleeping on your side. It is considered the best sleeping position for pregnant women, if you were always a back or stomach sleeper.
Sleeping in any position is usually fine early on. If you wish to develop the habit of favouring one side, place a pillow between your legs. This could aid in the relief of hip and lower body discomfort.
If you want to be a little more, well, extra, you can choose an orthopaedic knee cushion composed of memory foam.
Some sleeping positions may not be safe after the first trimester. Photo: iStock
Safe Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy: Second and Third Trimesters
As you approach the second, and mostly the third trimester, the best (experts may argue that perhaps the only) sleeping position would be the side-sleeping position.
In particular, sleeping on your left side increases the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby, and takes the pressure off your liver and kidneys thereby enabling optimal functioning of your organs in order to flush out toxins and help alleviate oedema (swelling).
Tummy-sleepers have it a bit easier as they naturally find it very difficult to sleep on their stomachs as the pregnancy progresses and their baby bump grows bigger, prompting them to adopt a more comfortable and safe sleeping position instead.
However, if you have always slept supine prior to pregnancy, you should avoid sleeping on your back at this point in your pregnancy as your growing abdomen and uterus put their entire weight and thus a lot of pressure on your intestines and major blood vessels (the aorta and vena cava), in this position.
Sleeping in a supine position during the last two trimesters of pregnancy can:
- worsen backaches and aggravate haemorrhoids
- bring about problems in your respiratory system as it interferes with circulation. This can possibly cause hypotension (low blood pressure), which can make you lightheaded and dizzy
- interfere with your digestive system and make digestion less efficient
- a decrease in circulation that may also reduce blood flow to the foetus, giving your baby less oxygen and nutrients. In some cases, a supine sleeping position has been linked to fatal stillbirth and a tragic end to your pregnancy.
Make sure your mattress is firm enough to keep your back from drooping as your belly grows. Put a board between the mattress and the box spring if yours is too soft.
Pregnant pillows are another option. They come in U or C forms and wrap around your entire body to help you sleep on your side. Hug the front of the cushion and slide it between your legs, allowing it to run along your back.
Continue to use a pregnancy pillow for support. Consider wedge pillows if you’re having problems sleeping because of your growing stomach. Place them beneath your belly button and behind your back to keep from rolling.
If you can’t seem to get used to sleeping on your side, prop yourself up with pillows at a 45-degree angle. This keeps you from sleeping flat on your back and lessens IVC compression.
You can also use books or blocks to raise the head of your bed a few inches.
Sleeping On Your Side During Pregnancy
Image Source: iStock
Right side or left side – which is the safe sleeping position while pregnant?
Sleeping on your left side is considered to be the “ideal” position during pregnancy.
The optimum blood flow from your inferior vena cava is achieved by lying on your left side (IVC). This large vein runs parallel to your spine on the right side of your spine and transfers blood to your heart and, eventually, to your baby.
The pressure on your liver and kidneys is relieved by sleeping on your left side. This allows you to move around more freely and reduces swelling in your hands, ankles, and feet.
Should the right side be avoided if the left side is better? Definitely not.
Sleeping on the right side, as stated by the Sleep Foundation, may exert pressure on the liver, making it suboptimal. However, experts generally concur that sleeping on the right side for brief periods is considered safe.
Sleeping on your side is the optimal position then for pregnant women in their second and third trimesters.
As your body undergoes changes, finding a comfortable and safe sleeping position while pregnant becomes crucial for your well-being and the well-being of your baby. We’ve got you covered with this list of tips and insights to help you achieve those blissful nights of rest during pregnancy.
Embrace the Left Side: According to the experts at the Sleep Foundation, sleeping on your left side is the ideal position during pregnancy. This position enhances blood flow to the placenta and promotes better circulation for both you and your baby. It also helps alleviate pressure on your back, reducing discomfort and potential issues.
Pillows Are Your New Best Friends: Investing in pregnancy pillows can make a world of difference in finding the perfect sleeping position. These specially designed pillows provide support to your growing belly, back, and hips, allowing you to find a cosy and comfortable position. Experiment with different pillow placements to find what works best for you.
Elevate Your Upper Body: If you’re experiencing heartburn or shortness of breath during pregnancy, propping yourself up with some extra pillows can provide relief. Elevating your upper body slightly can help reduce acid reflux and improve breathing, allowing you to drift off more easily.
Say No to Sleeping on Your Back: While it may be tempting to lie on your back, it’s best to avoid this position, especially as your pregnancy progresses. Sleeping on your back can exert pressure on major blood vessels, potentially causing dizziness, low blood pressure, and reducing blood flow to the baby. Opt for the left side instead to promote optimal circulation.
Be Mindful of Your Comfort: Finding comfort during pregnancy is essential, so listen to your body and adjust accordingly. Experiment with different variations, such as placing a pillow between your legs or using rolled-up blankets for added support. Don’t be afraid to try different positions until you discover the one that allows you to relax and rest comfortably.
Stay Hydrated, Minimise Fluid Intake Before Bed: To prevent frequent bathroom trips that disrupt your sleep, be mindful of your fluid intake in the evening. Stay hydrated throughout the day, but consider reducing your fluid intake before bedtime to minimize nighttime disruptions.
Relaxation Techniques: Creating a calming bedtime routine can help you unwind and prepare for a restful sleep. Consider incorporating relaxation techniques like gentle stretches, deep breathing exercises, or soothing music into your nightly routine. These practices can help reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, and enhance the quality of your sleep.
Sleeping Positions to Avoid During Pregnancy
Image source: iStock
According to specialists, some sleeping positions should be avoided during pregnancy. They include:
1. Stomach Sleeping
Many pregnant women are worried that laying on their stomachs would harm their babies. The uterus, on the other hand, provides ample protection for the fetus, therefore lying down on your stomach during the first trimester is unnecessary.
As their pregnancy progresses, most women find that sleeping on their stomachs becomes impossible or painful.
There’s no need to be concerned about women who still like to sleep on their stomachs or wake up on their fronts every now and then. If you sleep on your stomach, the baby will not be harmed.
With many sleeping pillows, some pregnant women may find it easier to sleep on their stomachs. It is quite safe to use these devices and to sleep on your stomach.
2. Back Sleeping
Sleeping on your back is generally considered safe during the first trimester.
Following that, you may have heard that laying on your back all night has been related to stillbirth in research. Before you get too excited, remember that the studies are small and that other factors like sleep apnea could be at play.
These studies, on the other hand, cannot be completely ignored. Finally, not sleeping on your back after 28 weeks may lessen your risk of stillbirth by 5.8 per cent.
Other downsides of lying on your back include: This position can cause back pain, haemorrhoids, digestive issues, and poor circulation. It may also cause dizziness or lightheadedness.
Tips on Sleeping While Pregnant
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.