How do you sleep when you are pregnant? Some say sleep on your left. Some say sleep on your right. Some say never sleep on your tummy and some say never sleep on your back. And you snigger at all these advices because you cannot seem to sleep comfortably anyway! Here is the big reveal – your sleeping posture DOES matter. In fact, your posture at all times – standing, sitting and sleeping – are of utmost importance during your pregnancy. Why? Because your growing belly is changing your body’s balance as the center of gravity shifts. It is also creating a strain on your back and spinal cord. So you need to ensure that your posture guarantees balance (no toppling over please!) and that it puts as less strain on your back as possible.
10 Best Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy
So here are 10 do’s and don’ts for finding that perfect sleeping position. You already have one? Read on despite that because the most comfortable position need not be the ideal one for your pregnancy and your body.
- Turn left for the best: You heard it right. Left has often been slated to be the best sleeping position during your pregnancy. Why? It is more comfortable. It does not strain your back. And more importantly it improves the circulation, thereby taking more oxygen and nutrients to the baby
- Right is the second best: Sleeping on your side is the best option during pregnancy as it does not strain your back and improves your circulation. While sleeping on left is often termed as the best option, sleeping on right is okay too. Switching sides is alright and as a matter of fact, there has not been enough evidence that left side is better to sleep on than the right
- No sleeping on your back: Okay, not for your entire pregnancy. The first trimester, you can sleep on your back. But after that, do not sleep on the back. This is because by the time you are into your second trimester, your uterus has grown considerably (whether it is visible outside or not). When you lie on your back the uterus presses against a blood vessel called vena cava, which in turn restricts the amount of oxygen and nutrients your baby is getting. If possible, avoid sleeping on the back during first trimester itself so that you are habituated to it by the second.
- No sleeping on your tummy: This will be physically impossible as your tummy grows. But in the initial months of your pregnancy, you can sleep on your tummy. This is because your pubic bone will ensure that your uterus remains cuddled. But by second and third trimester, the uterus would extend beyond the pubic bone – so sleeping on your tummy can be harmful. For more on this topic, read the complete article on sleeping on your stomach during pregnancy
- Pillow, pillows everywhere: Pillows help create a lot of support. Use one under your belly as you lie on your side. Use one between your legs to curb the restless leg syndrome (RLS). Use one in the back to support your back. Use a long divided pregnancy pillow to completely support your body. Tuck in as many as you want, wherever you need support! All the pillows in the house are all yours.
- Bend those knees: Whichever side you are sleeping on, left or right, try bending your knee for additional comfort. Even during your third trimester, this will be a comfortable position
- Propping up: Heartburn during pregnancy is one of the most common sleep killers. If heart burns are stopping you from getting a good night’s sleep, try propping up your upper body using a few extra pillows. This position will also help you breathe easy
- Back should be the focus: The key to sleeping well is this – keep your back supported and strain free at all times. Back pain during pregnancy is a common complaint and thus deserves a lot of attention
- Find a comfortable mattress: As important as the posture is, so is a good mattress. Too soft mattresses will not support your back and will cause further strain to your back. Invest in a good, firm mattress that you find comfortable
- Be relaxed: physically and mentally: Another important ingredient to a good night’s sleep is a relaxed body and mind. Ask your gynecologist and get a leg massage which can help calm the RLS. Eat well. Do not be over anxious about the pregnancy
Can Sleep Deprivation During Pregnancy Cause Complications?
Sleeping well during pregnancy assumes a lot of importance, because sleep alone can relax and prepare your body for labor and childbirth. Some of the complications associated with lack of sleep are:
- Higher risk of C-section: A c-section delivery may be needed if you have been sleeping for only 4-5 hours a night
- Longer labor: If you have not been sleeping atleast 7 hours in your first trimester, chances are that you will have a longer labor and one with complications
- Fatigue: Sleep deprivation during pregnancy can cause more exhaustion and fatigue, especially in the third trimester. Fatigue may be all over you if you are unable to sleep properly
- Irritability: Because of insufficient sleep, you are likely to be irritable and moody and upset all the time. Poor concentration levels may also be observed
- Weakened immunity: Pregnancy lowers your immunity and totally works to keep your baby safe. Lack of sleep can further weaken your immunity, which is not a good thing when you are carrying a life inside
- Stress: Lack of sleep can make you depressed and this may cause additional stress. Insufficient sleep can cause you to be low, anxious and stressed to great lengths
Other sleep deprivation affects may include skin aging, birthing complications and low birth weight baby. Hence, ensure you find a comfortable position to sleep in during your pregnancy and make the most of your night time. If you feel you are unable to sleep, instead of tossing and turning in bed, get up and do something boring. This will induce sleepiness.