Sleep during pregnancy, or lack thereof, may be nature’s way of preparing new moms for sleepless nights with a newborn. Many pregnant women have trouble sleeping because it’s downright hard to get comfortable. With a growing belly, back pain and heartburn, in addition to anxiety over bringing home a new baby, sleep may be hard to come by during pregnancy. But when you do, side sleeping during pregnancy is the best position for optimal sleep for both you and your baby.
It is quite common for pregnant women to toss and turn to find a comfortable sleep position. Although staying in one position all night long is unlikely, side sleeping during pregnancy offers the maximum benefits of sleep, circulation and relieving back pressure. Specifically, side sleeping on the left side is absolutely the best way for pregnant women to sleep.
Why is left side sleeping during pregnancy best?
Many experts believe that sleeping on the left side helps maintain blood flow throughout the body, especially to the placenta. Of course with blood comes oxygen and vital nutrients that baby’s need to grow and thrive. Left side sleeping also aids kidney function by allowing kidneys to flush waste and fluid from the body to reduce swelling or edema commonly associated with pregnancy.
Sleeping on your side may not come natural but training yourself to side sleep during pregnancy is important. Start early before your abdomen gets large and your body becomes extremely uncomfortable. Every time you wake up during sleep, turn from one side to the other, favoring your left.
Some moms-to-be find the strategic use of pillows helpful for sleeping during pregnancy. Placing a pillow between your knees while side sleeping can keep you ergonomically aligned. You may also want to place a pillow behind your back or to prop your chest. Often elevating the chest can help reduce heartburn and acid reflux that can exacerbate nausea and vomiting.
As you progress in pregnancy, it is best not to sleep flat on your back or on your stomach. This may be a difficult habit to break if these have been your sleeping habits for years, but you’ll want to make the effort for your best health and the safety of your baby. Back sleeping can put a lot of pressure on your spine and back muscles that are essential to supporting your movement during pregnancy. It can also disrupt your digestion and restrict blood flow to your heart placenta. Back sleeping has been known to cause hemorrhoids and shortness of breath as well.
For obvious reasons, stomach sleeping will become uncomfortable as your baby bump grows bigger. Even before you begin to show, you will want to break the stomach sleeping habit and avoid putting major pressure on your abdomen.
If you are a back sleeper and find yourself in need of solid sleep on your back, try sleeping in an upright recliner. This alleviates pressure on your back while keeping you upright enough for good blood flow.
Remember, side sleeping during pregnancy is best whenever possible. And be sure to take plenty of opportunities for rest before your baby arrives. Sweet dreams!