Pregnant and exhausted? Heed our tips for sleeping comfortably and safely during pregnancy.
A woman makes so many adjustments and changes during pregnancy, from diet to physical activity, that sleeping positions can become an issue as the baby grows.
We take a look at the science and health of sleeping comfortably during pregnancy, as well as what to avoid for the best night’s sleep.
On Your Side or On Your Back?
Research has shown that lying on your back is not advisable during pregnancy. The baby’s increasing weight and size of the uterus exert pressure on a major blood-carrying vein (the inferior vena cava) that’s located behind the uterus. This disturbs the blood flow to the baby.
Doctors generally recommend sleeping on your side during pregnancy, and either side is fine.
Research has shown that the left side is an ideal sleeping position because the pressure of the growing uterus is alleviated. This promotes the best blood flow by avoiding compression of the vein.
How Do Sleeping Positions Affect Babies?
The answer is blood flow. Your sleeping position as the baby grows is influenced by how you sleep. Sadly, there have been an increased number of late births in women who were sleeping on their back. This indicates a lack of circulation to the baby.
Lying on your back can also cause fainting or dizziness. This also happens due to circulation. The sudden decrease in blood pressure brings on the symptoms. This condition is called vasovagal syncope.
What are the Best Sleeping Positions For You and Your Baby?
Early on, sleeping in any position is generally fine. But it’s a good idea to begin getting into the habit of sleeping on your side. Beginning around the second trimester you’ll want to make sure your mattress is firm enough that your back doesn’t sag.
You will also want to look into getting a pregnancy pillow, especially by the third trimester. Here are three things to remember:
- Sleep on your side (ideally the left) with a pillow between your bent knees as support.
- Try placing a pillow below your abdomen or next to your back for support. Try both if you have enough pillows!
- Sleep with your head slightly higher than your body. This elevation helps in reducing heartburn and difficulty breathing.
Follow these tips to get the best night’s sleep for you and your baby. And, as always, contact us if you have any questions or concerns about any part of your pregnancy.