Finding the best sleeping positions during pregnancy, is like finding a good fitting bra! Difficult, but not impossible! “Sleep all you can now because you won’t be getting any once the baby comes!” or “Catch up on your sleep while you can!” is something pregnant women hear frequently. Easier said than done, right?
Coupled with frequent pee breaks, tender breasts, back pain, shortness of breath, heartburn and hot flashes it really becomes a challenge for pregnant mommies to fall asleep during pregnancy.
What complicates the pregnancy sleep problems even more is that some sleeping positions are just not safe for pregnant women and the growing baby. So, you have to be extra careful which position to sleep in.
- What’s the safest sleep position during pregnancy?
- Sleep position during pregnancy #1: On Your Back
- Sleep position during pregnancy #2: On Your Stomach
- Sleep position during pregnancy #3: On Your Side
- Getting sleep in every trimester of pregnancy
- First Trimester Sleep Challenges and Positions
- Second Trimester Sleep Challenges and Position
- Third Trimester Challenges and Position
- The Fourth Trimester Sleeping Position
- Do You Need to Buy a Pregnancy Pillow for Optimal Sleeping Position?
What’s the safest sleep position during pregnancy?
Could it really be true that one side of the body is better for sleeping than the other? Well yes! Doctors recommend that sleeping on your left side, is safest especially after the fourth month. Sleeping on your back? Heartburn and shortness of breath will keep you awake! Sleeping on your stomach? I know I can only fall asleep like this, but it’s not a great idea. Lying face down will cause your stomach to press on your uterus, causing your baby stress.
Let’s look at all of them one by one!
Sleep position during pregnancy #1: On Your Back
If you are a back sleeper, then you are ok, then you can use this sleeping position during the first three months of pregnancy. After the first trimester, you have to avoid sleeping on your back. Sleeping on your back will cause your growing uterus to press down on the veins (aorta and inferior vena cava), that ensure flow of blood to your heart and legs.
This will make you feel dizzy and you may also awake in a start. This also hinders with the delivery of blood and “food” to your placenta and baby. You may also begin to face other health issues like lower back aches, difficulty in breathing, hemorrhoids, low BP, and your best friend – heartburn! So, why create more problems for yourself – just give it up for six months! It’s good practice for being a parent – giving up things you love!!!!
Sleep position during pregnancy #2: On Your Stomach
Sleeping on the stomach is considered as a wrong sleeping sleeping position during pregnancy. Just like the many foods and habits you may already have given up – this is also one thing you will not be able to do for the next few months.
You may be able to sleep on your stomach during the first trimester. But after that in your second and third trimester will not be comfortable nor safe. You will not be able to get a full night’s restful sleep so best to avoid.
Sleep position during pregnancy #3: On Your Side
So, if you’re wondering how to sleep during pregnancy in second trimester or even the third trimester, then sleeping on the side is the most effective way. Sleeping on your side, especially on your left side, allows for the maximum blood flow for both you and baby.
Sleeping on your side prevents your growing body from putting pressure on your liver. Keep your legs and knees bent in the fetal position and placing a pillow between your legs will make you even more comfortable. Sleeping on the side during pregnancy will also help to reduce the swelling and water retention in ankles and feet. So all things considered, this is the best sleeping position during pregnancy for both second and third trimesters.
Getting sleep in every trimester of pregnancy
Not only is every pregnancy different, every trimester is also different! Your sleep needs vary as your pregnancy progresses. Each trimester comes its own trials and troubles!
First Trimester Sleep Challenges and Positions
Once the joy of discovering the good news dies down, mommies begin to feel the fatigue. For most first time mommies, this hits them hard, as they may have heard that the first trimester is not very difficult.
Well, the fact is you feel very drowsy and sleepy all the time. Low energy levels and fatigue is common as your hormones also begin to fluctuate. The metabolic changes that your body is going through need time to adjust. And you also need time to rest as growing a fetus is no easy task!
High progesterone levels and a growing uterus putting pressure on your bladder, makes you want to pee more! Sometimes you will feel like flopping a mattress on the bathroom floor itself! All the peeing and vomiting will keep you within an arm’s distance from your bathroom. It’s called morning sickness – but it can catch you unawares, in the evening as well as at night. Tender breasts and some pelvic cramping will also add to your sleep troubles.
- Schedule Sleep You will likely be scheduling your baby’s sleep in a few months, so get in the habit! Practice on yourself! Schedule your sleep, like mealtimes. Sleep at night may continue to be difficult, so try to get some shut eye as often as possible. Cat naps, dog naps, name it whatever you want, as long as you nap. Have a mid morning or mid afternoon nap, not later than 4 PM. Why? If you have an evening nap then you will again have trouble falling asleep at night.
- Have your quota of fluids early in the day In pregnancy it is essential that you have good amounts of fluids, throughout the day. But all these extra fluids do make their way to your gall bladder – making you pee more! It’s a round-a-about you can’t get off, not while you are pregnant. Without compromising on your fluid intake, try to consume them throughout the day, before 7 PM. This will make you pee less!
- Always have snacks on hands Hunger and nausea can strike at anytime! Keeping some light snacks on your bedside table will help you much away midnight queasiness. Less queasy = more sleep.
- Exercise If you are a fitness freak, good. Pregnancy is exhausting! And if you manage to get some exercise during the day – you’ll sleep like a baby! I can’t stop!!! These jokes write themselves!!! Like naps, try to finish off your physical activity during the day itself as late evening workouts can encourage insomnia.
Second Trimester Sleep Challenges and Position
As your pregnancy progresses into the second trimester, you will begin to sleep better. For most normal pregnancies, this trimester is usually the easiest one! No nausea of the first trimester and you are still not as big as the whale as you will become in the third! So, most women glide into beautiful dreamless sleep…..until!!!!
Ladies, meet your best friend for the next six months – Heartburn. Always by your side, never wavering!! You just overcame nausea, only to have reflux…um….rise. Again blame your uterus. It’s growing size begins to place immense pressure on your stomach. This forces acid up into your esophagus aka throat. Lying flat tends to aggravate the burn. Kisi tarah koi chain nahi hain!!!!
If you think your own throat is trying to choke you, it gets worse! Cramps in your calves will startle you, causing you to wake up in a start. And didn’t you just fall asleep? Sigh!
You are already half a parent….if you get what I mean. As your baby will grow so will your fears and anxieties. This will mess with your ability to fall asleep. Continuously feeling like something is going to go wrong! What if I drop the baby? What if I forget the baby somewhere? All these fears though unfounded will continue to hound you! Who the hell has time to sleep when there is so much to be done!!!!
Aur mat daaroo, solution batao! Ok ok, here are some solutions to help you sleep better in your second trimester of pregnancy.
- Staying Upright After Eating A pregnant body is growing a brand new human being!!! It’s hard work! Digestion takes a lot longer when you are expecting. Sitting upright or sitting in the Vajrasana pose will keep your stomach acids at bay. Even though all you want is go and lie down after dinner, try to avoid as it will aggravate your heartburn. Eating heavy meals throughout the day and enjoying a light dinner is one way to reduce reflux. Please ensure that you are in no way compromising your pregnancy diet because of this.
- Avoid Heartburn-Inducing Foods Easier said than done! I know! Khaataa…churan…pickle…pani puri…that’s all you want, isn’t it?! Well, there’s your cause for heartburn!!! Spicy food, fried snacks and caffeine are the major causes of heartburn in pregnant women.
- Say No To Soft Drinks You should have given up soft drinks like yesterday! If you haven’t then this should convince you. Phosphorous in carbonated drinks decreases the amount of calcium you’re able to metabolize. Don’t get me started on the numerous amounts of lead, heavy metals and preservatives. Do you really want to expose your baby to all that?
- Aaram farmao, duniya ko bolo, bhaadh main jaaoo Make sleep, relaxation and meditation your only priority. Learn to say no – not only for yourself, but your baby. Cut back at work, if possible. If not explore options of telecommuting or work from home. Some organizations are more accommodating than others. If your work is too demanding, have your hubby take over all home chores. I know it is difficult to take a step back. We are used to our fast life! But take a walk or try some prenatal yoga. This will help you relax and reduce your anxiety.
In the third trimester consider any sleep a god send! Seriously once you are in the 8 th month it becomes increasingly more and more difficult to sleep well. I think my mother told me that this is nature’s way of preparing you for when the baby is going to keep you up at night!!!! LOL!!!
Researchers say that women wake up at least three times most nights into their 8th month. 2/3rds get up five or more times during the 9th month. The more you sleep, the more your chances of a normal delivery. This is the primary reason most mother in laws will ask you to go on “bed rest” during this entire trimester. Even if you don’t feel sleepy lying down will help you to relax.
Third Trimester Challenges and Position
A study done by the Yale University found almost 60% of pregnant women suffer from loss of sleep, because of lower back pain. If you thought you were done peeing in the first trimester, think again! You will wobble your way to the bathroom more often as your uterus grows even bigger and the baby begins to drop.
Into your third trimester, you will begin to feel disordered breathing. This is mainly because of congestion in your nasal passages hinder your airways. You end up snoring! Snoring can snowball into sleep apnea – where breathing can stop for at least 10 seconds.
It’s real. Believe me! As a youngster, I had the bad habit of shaking my legs when sitting and also when trying to go to sleep. But the Restless Leg Syndrome which I experienced was truly weird! I felt like ants crawling up inside my legs. And I am not alone in this! About 1 in 5 pregnant women experience this.
You know the drill by now! Yes some solutions! Hope they help.
- Babying Your Back It’s a thing! Like in your previous trimesters sleeping on your left side helps….a lot!!!! Pack yourself with pillows! Make a pillow fort…now that’s going a bit too far!!! Place pillows between your knees, and sleep in a fetus position. Also ask your hubby to place one pillow behind your back and one under your belly. Or you could just use a pregnancy pillow!
- Cut Back On Liquids In The Evening This again! If you drink less just before going to sleep, you’ll have to get up less often. When you do go to pee lift your baby bump slightly, allowing your bladder to empty fully. Please drink a lot of fluids during the day, when you follow this advice!
- Relax before bedtime Like you would develop sleep hygiene and a sleep routine for your baby, do the same for yourself. Listen to light instrumental music. Make you hubby give you a light oil massage followed by a warm bath or shower. Taking a short walk will also help you sleep well.
The Fourth Trimester Sleeping Position
I’m just messing with you! It’s not really a fourth trimester of pregnancy, but the first 3 months after baby is born, you will be getting even less sleep than ever. You’ll long for your 3rd trimester days. You’ll wish you could take the little one back inside your tummy!! No feeding, no changing, no rocking, no burping! Heartburn and lower back ache of your 3rs trimester would be looking like kiddies’ play right now!
Baby sleep training is a big business in the US. In India, not so much. Indians have always and will be co sleepers. My baby used to sleep with my boob in his mouth till he was 4 months old. And if you plan on getting any sleep, believe me the only way is to – sleep with the baby near you so that you can feed on demand and then roll off to sleep.
Breastfeeding is the only way we Indians know how to do it!! Right, so don’t you go messing with Mother Nature, breast is best. Also that hormone doctors are always talking about – prolactin. Well, it is also a soporific meaning it induces sleep – like a sedative. I didn’t know this then –else I would have chugged a whole glass myself!!! LOL!!! Just kidding. Please don’t drink your baby ke hisse ka milk! Don’t let anyone drink it! *wink* wink*
A breastfeed baby is less colicky = more comfortable baby = more sleep for baby = more sleep for you! This is the only math you need for the next 3 months.
Getting sleep when the baby arrives, is something I would like to cover in detail, so hang on for a post on that.
Do You Need to Buy a Pregnancy Pillow for Optimal Sleeping Position?
It’s indeed tough getting peaceful sleep during pregnancy, as we’ve covered above. Can a special pregnancy pillow save your day or rather your night? Let’s see. Maybe, maybe not!
For stomach sleepers like the bedtime battle began as soon as I discovered I was pregnant. Hubby and my sister, who was living with us at that time, didn’t let me sleep on my stomach, not matter how many articles I made them read to the contrary. Sis was of the view that it would be good practice going forward.
Pillows can be a life saver by providing you support wherever you need it. By the second trimester, you can’t sleep on your back and by the third sleeping on the left is the only option left – and this is where a pregnancy pillow is really, really helpful.
The market for pregnancy and baby products have increased so much, that choosing the right one can leave you exhausted. My loving sister went out and bought the first pregnancy pillow she found, because it looks like this. Personally I would have loved a curved one. More than me, my hubby began using this pillow. I only got to use it once I was 7 months pregnant!
Make do with extra pillows lying around the house
Instead of going out or online and buying something which will become useless in the next few months, try experimenting with the pillows on hand. Even if it doesn’t work out, you will discover which type of pregnancy pillow you are most comfortable with – curved or straight.
Place a pillow under your head and one between your knees while trying to sleep on your left side. This did work for me for some time. The only problem with individual pillows is that, they have a mind of their own. It can become a little troublesome trying to adjust and readjust –and just when you fall asleep, that pillow will slip from between your legs!
Also try keeping a pillow under your bump to help support it. If you are finding it difficult to sleep on your left side place a pillow behind your back. This pillow will serve as a back rest and stop you from turning over in your sleep. If this doesn’t seem to work for you, then think about buying a special pregnancy pillow.
Straight pregnancy pillow
You can use a long, rectangular pillow which will run along your body. You can lay your head on it and even slip it beneath your bump and in between the knees. To support your back though you will need to use a regular pillow.
Curved pillow or C-Shaped pregnancy pillow
A curved pregnancy pillow is shaped like a big golf stick. It is like a straight pregnancy pillow, just more comfortable. The curve allows you to snuggle your head easily get comfy sooner. Plus it doubles up as a baby bean bag for your little one!
Full body contour pregnancy pillow
Why didn’t they have this in store, when my sis went to buy me one?!?! Just looking at it, makes me want to order one right now!! These contoured pillows encircle your entire body, cocooning you, making you feel like a baby yourself! It supports your head and neck, bump and legs.
And if you’re already not on your way out to the store to grab one let me tell you that it also doubles up as a feeding pillow, once the baby comes! It’s like the ultimate maternity pregnancy pillow! Some women who are not used so many blankets and pillows may find it a little smothering. If you are one of them, then this may not be the right fit!
If you don’t like your personal space over run by pillows, then you may like to try out Wedges. These are, as the name suggests – small, wedge-like “pillows” that are designed to slip under your belly to support it. You can also try a neck pillow or wedge to support your head.
It also helps to speak to a friend who just went through pregnancy and ask what worked for her. Maybe you could score one for cheap, if they’re done using their pregnancy pillow!