Finding the right sleep position during pregnancy

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Pregnancy is one of the most joyous experiences of a woman’s life. But like all things good, this experience comes with its own complications and health issues. Ask a woman in her third trimester how she is doing, and she will rattle out a long list of problems that she is facing, all with a huge smile on her face. Lack of sleep is one of the biggest problems experienced during this time. Imagine, waking up every hour to use a washroom or tossing and turning in the bed all through the night because of severe cramps in the leg or discomfort in the abdomen area.

Pregnant or not pregnant, we all need to sleep for at least 8 hours a night to function properly. Technically, sleeping is much more than just lying down and dozing off. A good night’s sleep relaxes the body and brain and takes care of important body functions like metabolism. So, when there is no sleep, all the processes that happen during that time go wonky and result in health problems.

This is the reason; improper sleep patterns are known to cause various physical and mental ailments. Furthermore, having a good night’s sleep in pregnancy is extra essential because, during those 9 months, the body works extra hard to grow a baby inside and needs proper rest while performing other routine bodily functions every night.

While most pregnant women feel tired and want to sleep, they find it very difficult to find a comfortable position to lie down because of the growing size of their tummy. They are also always uncomfortable because of various body changes caused by pregnancy. Let’s understand this better.

Why Normal Sleep Positions Become Uncomfortable During Pregnancy?

A woman’s body goes through a number of changes during pregnancy. These changes can cause pain and discomfort that can interfere with peaceful slumber and almost always make the usual sleeping positions uncomfortable. Some of the common reasons of discomfort are:

  1. Weight gain
  2. Water retention
  3. Back pain
  4. Heartburn
  5. Bloating
  6. Shortness of breath

If you loved to sleep on your back before pregnancy, you will notice that it is not as comfortable in the later stages of pregnancy and there are also some medical reasons attached to why you should not sleep on your back during this time. You will learn about that as you read on.

Every sleeping position has its own benefits. However, there are some sleeping positions that are not good for pregnant women. Let’s find out the best positions to sleep in during the pregnancy and the ones that have to be avoided at all costs at this time.

Right Sleep Position During Pregnancy

Finding the right sleep position and having a good night’s sleep during pregnancy is easier said than done. Physical discomfort and a frequent need to empty the bladder are the main reasons that keep the pregnant women awake during the night. This is why it is essential to find a position which eases some of the body pain and makes falling asleep an easy job. No, you cannot do anything about the frequent loo trips, but you might as well find a position where the pressure on the bladder is reduced and so is the urge to pee.

Pregnant women basically need to experiment with various sleep positions and techniques to find a relaxing position. They have to train their body to sleep in that position every find to find comfort and improve their sleep quality.

  1. Sleeping on the Side
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Sleeping on the side, especially on the left side is the best because it helps reduce one of the most annoying pregnancy side effects, heartburn. This position is popularly known as SOS (Sleep on Side) in mom circles. Sleeping on the left side improves blood circulation and ensures an easy flow of nutrient-rich blood to the placenta. Lying on the left also keeps the expanding weight from putting too much pressure on the liver.

Sleeping on the left side is good for everyone else as well. To find comfort and give support to the lower back, pregnant women can try placing a pillow between their legs. A pillow basically aligns the hips in a better way, which in turn reduces and helps avoid lower back pain. A normal fluffy pillow can solve the purpose, but if you want something more, you can check out pregnancy pillows that are specially manufactured to help expecting women find a comfortable sleeping position. Sleeping on the side is considered to be the safest position for the baby.

Pregnant women can also sleep on their right side; the point is to feel comfortable. If you are experimenting, don’t be afraid to change sides and squirm until you feel cosy and sleepy. Sometimes, it helps to support the growing tummy with a small pillow placed below it. Again, to each her own. At the end of the day, it’s all about having a good sleep and waking up refreshed.

2. Fetal Position

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Fetal position is one of the most popular methods of sleeping. This position can alleviate back pain and is exceptionally good for pregnant women. When sleeping in this position, it is crucial to keep the body relaxed, and the legs extended. A pillow between the knees can work wonders for the posture.

The whole point is to relax the body enough to help sleep takeover. Below mentioned are a few tried and tested positions that are known to work for pregnant women. If you are expecting and would like to try any of these, do not stress too much while doing so. You may or may not find comfort in these positions; after all, everybody is different, and so is every pregnancy. So, try them, if any of these work for you, great, if no, you will have to experiment and find your own position.

Sleeping Positions to Avoid

After the fifth month of pregnancy, the baby grows faster, and so does the stomach that refuses to fit anywhere. This is the time when mothers should avoid sleeping in two positions; on the back and on the stomach. Here is why.

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Sleeping on the back after the fifth month is not the safest thing to do, and honestly, it isn’t comfortable either. Sleeping in this position puts extra pressure on the aorta and inferior vena cava. These are the blood vessels that run behind the uterus and are responsible for carrying blood from the heart to the feet. Hence, sleeping on your back can slow blood circulation to your legs and also to the baby.

It is okay if you roll over in your sleep while changing sides. Momentary pressure on the veins won’t do any damage. Also, it is important to let the body find comfort while in sleep, it will sub-consciously manage what you have been trying hard to do while awake. You do not need to wake up every time you need to change sides.

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Sleeping on the stomach once the tummy starts showing, is quite uncomfortable and is also not good for the baby. When you sleep on your stomach, your abdomen gets pushed behind and puts pressure on the uterus. This position also puts pressure on the growing breasts, which is already painful. Sleeping on the side will ease some breast pain as well.

Sleeping Tips for Third Trimester

The third trimester is the time when most women find it difficult to get comfortable in the bed. This is the time when the weight gain is maximum along with other issues like bloating, breast soreness, leg cramps and tummy weight. Then there is the need for frequent urination because of the extra pressure on the bladder. All in all, this trimester is a tough time to pass in terms of comfort and sleep. While there is nothing that can make you feel completely normal until the baby is born, there are a few tips that can come in handy.

  1. Try using pillows and cushions to get into a comfortable position while sleeping. If you can, invest in a curved pregnancy pillow which can be purchased at any of the leading maternity stores.
  2. Wear loose and comfortable nightwear. Stick to breathable fabrics that will take care of fluctuating body temperature and sweating.
  3. It is not important to always lie down on a bed for sleep. If you are in your third trimester and you sleep your best on the couch, that’s fine too. Napping on a rocking chair/comfy chair is good too.
  4. Heartburn is commonly experienced during the third trimester. To avoid losing sleep to this issue, you can try avoiding spicy food at night. Also, consume a light meal that is easy to digest and has a cooling effect.
  5. Exercising during the last trimester goes a long way in helping with pregnancy weight, blood pressure and proper blood circulation. You can try some light exercises that are recommended at this stage in pregnancy. Do find a good trainer who will ensure you and your baby’s safety while providing a proper workout to the body.
  6. Try relaxing techniques like meditation, sleep music and aromatherapy. You can soak in a hot water bathtub before bed or light aromatic candles in your room to relax your mind and get into the sleep mode. Soothing sleep music is also known to help pregnant women and relax and get a good sleep. Meditation is not easy to do. If you haven’t done it before and would like to try, join a class for proper guidance.

Summing It Up

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In reality, there are just two right sleeping positions for pregnancy, but there are a plethora of tricks and tips that help you find you sleep better during these 9 months. Try the above-mentioned tips along with some easy things like avoiding caffeine, creating a sleep routine and finding some good ways to relax.

The key is to rest, and you can do it the way you like it while ensuring that your preferred way is not harming you or your baby in any way. So, go ahead. Try some of the above-mentioned tips tonight. You have months to pass before the baby is ready to arrive, and once he/she is here, you won’t get enough sleep anyway.

Wakefit is a research and innovation driven sleep solutions company founded with a vision to democratize sleep in India.