There are lots of articles online and in pregnancy and parenting magazines aimed at helping you find the best and most comfortable position for sleeping while pregnant. What they all boil down to is this:
The best, most comfortable and most beneficial sleeping position while pregnant is on your left side. There are a number of very good reasons for this, such as:
- When you sleep on your left side, you take the pressure off your spine and important arteries that supply blood to your legs and feet.
- Maintaining good blood circulation also allows oxygen and nutrients to flow unimpeded to the placenta while you sleep.
- The left side is preferable to the right because there are fewer important organs on the left side that could be compromised by being squashed by your burgeoning belly.
- Sleeping on your left side (as opposed to your back) can help you prevent swelling in the extremities, hemorrhoids and aches and pains in your muscles – especially in the lower back.
- Sleeping on your back can cause your blood pressure to drop, leading to dizziness upon arising.
- Back sleeping can cause digestive problems, heartburn and GERD-like symptoms.
- When you sleep on your back during pregnancy, you are more likely to snore and to develop serious problems such as sleep apnea and shortness of breath.
For all of these good reasons, the American Pregnancy Association and the vast majority of obstetricians recommend that women who are trying to get pregnant and those in the early stages of pregnancy begin developing the habit of sleeping on the left side.
Is that the end of the story?
Hardly! Even though the answer to the question “What’s the best sleeping position during pregnancy?” is simple, there are layers of nuance and special tweaks that can be applied to make this position even more comfy and beneficial. Here are a few:
- Curl up in the fetal position with legs bent to relieve pressure on your spine, relax your back muscles and improve circulation to your legs while you sleep.
- Assemble a collection of pillows to provide perfect support to your head and neck, your side and your legs. Catering to your specific sleep needs will ensure good rest, and that’s essential to a healthy pregnancy.
- Try placing a small pillow between your knees for added comfort and more relief from lower back pressure.
- If your abdomen feels like it’s dragging you down, place a pillow between it and the mattress for support. A small, firm cushion, such as a circular seat cushion may be better than a soft, puffy bed pillow.
- Invest in a “maternity pillow”. These specially designed pillows are perfect for providing exactly the right support for side-sleeping during pregnancy. Although they are a bit pricey, you needn’t worry that you won’t use yours after your pregnancy. The specialised support and comfort provided by this ingenious device continues to be welcome even after baby arrives.
Enjoy modified back sleeping
If you just cannot get comfortable with sleeping-on-side (SOS) or if you would just like to sleep on your back occasionally, there are modifications you can make by propping your body up with pillows.
Resting in a semi-reclining position can help make breathing easier. It can also relieve heartburn while still providing relief from pressure on the lower back, hips and thighs. You may wish to also prop your knees up to help relieve compression in the lower back and spine.
You can achieve these results by assembling your own collection of pillows to custom make your own supportive, back-sleeping nest. Alternately, look into wedge pillows that are especially designed to keep upper body elevated and provide relief to swollen, tired legs. These can be found online or at local medical supply shops.
Just as with maternity pillows, specialised wedge pillows made of dense foam rubber can be a bit pricey. Still, you are very likely to find your wedge pillows very comfortable for sleeping and handy for reading in bed, nursing and other restful activities long after baby arrives.
What if I accidentally flip onto my back while I’m asleep?
Don’t worry about it. While it is much healthier to sleep on your left side while pregnant, accidentally sleeping on your back once in a while will not harm you. If you wake up on your back, turn onto your side and continue sleeping.
If it’s time to get up, be sure to take a few moments to allow your blood pressure to stabilise before you rise. Stretching and doing a few gentle range-of-motion exercises such as circling and flexing your hands and feet can help get your blood flowing evenly.
I can’t go nine months without sleeping on my stomach!
If you are a devoted stomach-sleeper, the idea of going nearly a year without sleeping on your stomach may seem rather distressing. One thing you should realize is that the bigger your tummy gets and the more tender your breasts feel, the less you will want to sleep on your stomach.
Naturally, sleeping on top of your baby is never recommended – even when he or she is in-utero, but there is one little trick you can try in very specific circumstances.
If you take a trip to the beach when pregnant, you might try digging a deep hole in the sand that will accommodate your swollen belly and breasts. Lay a soft blanket or towel over your excavation and stretch out.
This can be a very comfortable and luxurious treat! Remember to protect yourself from the sun while you relax!
Being pregnant is not generally comfortable. It is also very hard on your body. When you are pregnant, you should take every opportunity to rest, relax, manage stress and indulge yourself while providing for your growing baby. Getting good sleep is essential to your health and the success of your pregnancy. Follow the advice presented here to sleep comfortably while pregnant.