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A sound sleep is what all pregnant women crave, but it is often difficult to get. Sleep disturbances are fairly common during pregnancy, and almost all pregnant women face these sleep issues, especially as the pregnancy advances past the first trimester.
During pregnancy, getting a comfortable night’s sleep gets harder than ever due to anxiety, hormonal fluctuations, and most importantly, the physical changes. The size of your growing belly, aching back, swelling in the legs, and the urge to empty your increasingly sensitive bladder make it inconvenient to sleep comfortably in your regular sleeping position like sleeping on your back. As pregnancy progresses to the second trimester, you may find it harder to find a comfortable sleeping position. In this situation, it is natural to get worried and have questions like how to sleep during pregnancy to get sound sleep and whether sleeping on your back while you’re pregnant is safe.
A good night’s sleep is essential for pregnant women. As per experts, during pregnancy, the best sleeping position is to sleep on your left side, which is ideal for you as well as your baby-to-be. This position allows maximum blood flow and increases the nutrient absorption to your placenta and your baby. Sleeping on your side enhances kidney function too, which aids in the elimination of waste products and reduces swelling in your feet, ankles, and hands.
Video: Best and Worst Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy
Why are Normal Sleeping Positions Uncomfortable During Pregnancy?
The usual sleeping positions, like sleeping on your belly or your back, will get difficult as your pregnancy progresses to the second and third trimesters. This is because of the discomfort caused by the increasing size of the abdomen, back pain, shortness of breath, and heartburn.
What is the Correct Sleeping Position?
During pregnancy, the correct position to sleep, without a doubt, would be to sleep on your side and that too on your left side. The largest vein supplying blood to the heart is located on the right side, so sleeping on your left side is recommended. The ideal position is to lie on your left side with knees bent and pillows between your legs.
Experts advise that keeping a pillow behind your back and under your belly will give you optimal sleep with less strain. It is recommended to wear loose and comfortable clothing in a breathable fabric like cotton while sleeping.
Which Sleeping Position Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?
Sleeping on your back or your stomach should be avoided during pregnancy as it can lead to many health issues, as explained below:
- While sleeping on your back during pregnancy, your growing uterus presses onto your spine, the muscles of your back, your intestines, and also your blood vessels, especially the inferior vena cava (this is the vein which brings blood back from your lower body up to your heart). This can decrease the blood circulation to your heart and to the foetus, hindering the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the baby. This interference with circulation can also lead to hypotension (low blood pressure) and swelling.
- In addition to circulation problems, back sleeping can aggravate backaches and contribute to the development of haemorrhoids, varicose veins, and shortness of breath. It can also make digestion less efficient.
- As the pregnancy progresses, the increasing size of the abdomen and tenderness in the breasts make it almost impossible to sleep on your stomach.
Tips to Be Comfortable While Sleeping
Listed below are a few other positioning tips for a safe and comfortable sleep during pregnancy.
- Keeping your legs and knees bent with a pillow between your legs and another pillow behind your back will give more belly and back support.
- If you experience heartburn, it is very helpful to lie on your back almost in a half-seated position, with some soft fluffy pillows propped up behind you.
- For relief from back pain, sleeping on your side with a pillow under your abdomen will help.
- In case you are experiencing shortness of breath in the later stages of pregnancy, try lying on your side and put a pillow under your side to raise your chest.
Staying in one position throughout the night is not comfortable, so shifting from side to side while favouring the left side is the best solution for a cosy sleep. If you wake up on your back or your tummy in the middle of the night, do not panic. Just turn onto either of the sides and go back to sleep.
Pregnant women are required to take several precautions and bring about necessary changes in their lifestyle for a smooth pregnancy. Trying these new sleeping positions is just one aspect of those changes. It is normal to feel uncomfortable for a few nights or even a few weeks as the body is used to random sleeping positions. Rest assured that this will become easier as the pregnancy progresses. Give some time to your mind and body, and you will soon be able to adjust to the new positions.