Wrong Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a transformative time in a woman’s life, marked by physical and emotional changes. As the body adapts to support the growing fetus, certain sleeping positions can become uncomfortable or even pose risks.

Lying Flat on the Back (Supine Position)

As the pregnancy progresses, sleeping on the back can lead to decreased blood flow. The weight of the growing uterus can press on the inferior vena cava (the main vein that returns blood from the lower half of the body to the heart). This can reduce blood flow to the heart and subsequently to the baby. The weight of the uterus can also compress the diaphragm, making it harder to take a deep breath and leading to shortness of breath. Heartburn and acid reflux are common symptoms during pregnancy. Lying flat on your back can exacerbate these symptoms, particularly later in pregnancy when the stomach is pressed by the uterus. Lastly, this sleeping position can lead to backaches. The added pressure on the back can exacerbate lower back pain, which is already a common complaint during pregnancy.

Lying on the Stomach (Prone Position)

While sleeping on the stomach might be comfortable during the early stages of pregnancy, as the belly grows, this position can exert pressure on the uterus. It will most likely be very obvious at what point this sleeping position is no longer possible, as it simply becomes impractical.

Deep Flexion or Extension

Avoid positions that involve deep flexion (curling up too tight) or extension (arching the back significantly). Such postures can put undue strain on the joints and muscles, which are already being tested beyond anything they’ve ever had to endure, leading to discomfort and pain.

Best Sleeping Position During Pregnancy

The left lateral position, or sleeping on the left side, is frequently recommended for pregnant women. Here’s why. This position avoids any pressure on the inferior vena cava, ensuring unrestricted blood flow to the fetus, uterus, and kidneys. Proper circulation can also help reduce swelling in the ankles, feet, and hands. Sleeping on the left side can also alleviate pressure on the liver which is located on the right side of the abdomen, and allows for optimal nutrient and oxygen flow to the baby. However, alternating between sides during the night is absolutely okay and can provide relief from prolonged pressure on one side.

Helpful Tips for Comfortable Sleep

Pregnancy Pillows: Supportive pregnancy pillows can help accommodate the changing body shape and provide relief.

Elevate the Head: If experiencing heartburn, consider elevating the head with pillows.

Keep Hydrated: Drink enough fluids during the day but limit intake before bedtime to reduce frequent trips to the bathroom at night.

Awareness and making minor adjustments to your nighttime routines can make a big difference in sleep quality. Getting a good night’s sleep ensures your health and wellbeing and that of your growing baby. As always, contact your healthcare provider with any questions or problems.

Additional Reading:

American Pregnancy Association: https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/sleeping-positions-during-pregnancy/

Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/sleep-during-pregnancy/art-20043827

What to Expect: https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/sleep-solutions/