Does Your Sleeping Position Affect Your Pregnancy?

Does Your Sleeping Position Affect Your Pregnancy?

Last update: 01 December, 2017

Pregnant women experience many changes which affect their bodies. One of the most important is their sleeping position.

During pregnancy, it may be difficult to get to sleep. You might not know which way to lie. Your diet and your relationships with others can also be reflected in how you sleep.

Before getting pregnant, most women are used to sleeping in a certain position. But some of these, such as lying on your back or face down, are not recommended during pregnancy.

It can be very difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position during pregnancy, particularly if you were used to sleeping face down and have to change your habits now that your bump is in the way.

If you have always slept on your back, you should also change position. This will help to avoid problems with your back and internal organs, given the extra weight you are now carrying.

Going to bed should be a chance to recharge our batteries. However, finding the right sleeping position to get some rest can turn into a struggle when we’re pregnant.

That’s why it’s so common for pregnant women to have trouble sleeping. Some barely get any sleep at all, due to the size of their bump and the sensitivity of their breasts. An abrupt change in sleeping position can also prove difficult. But it is not impossible.

Is there a correct sleeping position for pregnancy?

Specialists recommend that pregnant women sleep lying on their left side. This sleeping position will facilitate blood flow. To stabilize the body, you can put a pillow between your legs.

This position is understood to favor the circulation of blood and nutrients to the uterus and the baby. This ensures the right flow of oxygen to the fetus, and promotes the elimination of waste and fluids via the kidneys.

It also helps to reduce edema (swollen feet and ankles), a condition which is typical during pregnancy. It prevents varicose veins and helps to avoid the indigestion that can trouble some women. Start practicing this routine during the first trimester, so that it comes easily later on.

Most importantly, a study by the University of Auckland in New Zealand shows that women that don’t sleep on their left side may have a higher risk of fetal death. Although the risks are very low, you should take this recommendation into account.

Sleeping on your right side has a negative effect

According to diverse studies, sleeping on your right side can have a negative effect on various organs. Let’s take a look at how it can affect individual areas of your body.

  • The vena cava: the largest blood vessel in your body runs down the right hand side of your body, and carries a large amount of blood. If you sleep on your left side, you will avoid putting pressure on this vein. This ensures a good flow of blood to the placenta and allows oxygen to circulate.
  • The liver: this important organ is located on the right side of your abdomen. For this reason, if you sleep on your left hand side, you will avoid pressure on this organ from your uterus.
best sleeping position during pregnancy

Your sleeping position affects how well you sleep

It can be hard to sleep during the final weeks of pregnancy. But with the help of a lot of pillows, you should be able to get some rest. If you are suffering from indigestion, it can be beneficial to sleep with your torso raised. For this reason, pillows and cushions are key at this stage.

A firm mattress with a slight slope and enough give to accommodate the curves of your spine will let you sleep better. A very hard mattress or sleeping on the floor is just as harmful as a very soft one, which lets your spine slump without support. Your mattress should not cave in in the middle, so that it can support your whole spine.

Recommendations to improve sleep during pregnancy

  • Don’t use too many covers to keep warm
  • Use triangular pillows
  • Ensure that you empty your bladder before you go to sleep
  • Cut down on liquids at dinnertime
  • Eat dinner at least three hours before you go to bed
  • Avoid drinking coffee

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.