Stomach, back or side? Here’s what you need to know about safe, comfortable sleep positions during pregnancy.
Now that you need a good night’s sleep more than ever, it’s unfortunately harder than ever to get. Finding the right sleep position isn’t easy, since two favorites (stomach and back) aren’t the best choices during pregnancy. Here’s what you need to know to stay comfortable and safe.
What Are the Different Sleep Positions & Their Effects on Baby and Me?
Sleeping on your stomach
If your favorite position is tummy-down, that’s perfectly fine — until your tummy is the size of a watermelon, at which point you’ll have to switch positions (for what will become very obvious reasons).
Sleeping on your back during pregnancy
Experts recommend pregnant women avoid sleeping on their backs during the second and third trimesters. Why? The back sleep position rests the entire weight of the growing uterus and baby on your back, your intestines and your vena cava, the main vein that carries blood back to the heart from your lower body. This pressure can aggravate backaches and hemorrhoids and make digestion less efficient, interfere with circulation, and possibly cause hypotension (low blood pressure), which can make you dizzy. Less-than-optimal circulation can also reduce blood flow to the fetus, giving your baby less oxygen and nutrients. It’s not unsafe if you find yourself on your back once in a while, but being on your back for prolonged periods of time over weeks and months can be problematic.
Sleeping on your left or right side
During the second and and third trimesters, sleeping on either side — preferably the left, if possible — is ideal for you and your baby-to-be. This position allows for maximum blood flow and nutrients to the placenta (less pressure on the vena cava) and enhances kidney function, which means better elimination of waste products and less swelling in your feet, ankles and hands.
What Is the Best Sleeping Position While I’m Pregnant?
The safest bet for pregnant women past the first trimester is to sleep on your left side, a position that supports optimal circulation.
Tips on Getting Comfortable While Sleeping
Not used to lying on your side? Or always been a side-sleeper — but can’t seem to get any rest now that you’re expecting? Here are a few tips to get yourself comfy sleeping in the side position:
- Use lots of pillows. Try crossing one leg over the other and putting one pillow between them and another pillow behind your back — or any other combination that helps you sleep.
- Get a special pillow. For extra support, try using a wedge-shaped pillow or a 5-foot full-body pillow.
- Prop yourself up. If pillows don’t help, try sleeping in a semi-upright position in a recliner (if you have one) instead of the bed.
Keep in mind, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable for a few nights or even a few weeks; your body will most likely adjust to a new position given time.