For most women, pregnancy is a time of great joy, excitement, and anticipation. However, for many it can also be a time of disturbed sleep – even for women who have never had problems sleeping. When you’re pregnant, you need as much sleep as possible, and getting a good night’s sleep can depend on your sleeping position. Finding the right sleep position isn’t easy, since sleeping on your stomach and back aren’t the best choices during pregnancy.
What Are the Different Sleep Positions?
Sleeping on Your Stomach
If your favourite position is belly-down, that’s perfectly fine – until your tummy is about the size of a watermelon. At this point, you’ll have to switch positions. If you find yourself sleeping on your front now and again, don’t worry. The fact that you woke up in the first place is probably your pregnant body’s way of telling you to change positions. Just flip over onto your side and go back to sleep. However, make sure you aren’t sleeping on your front for prolonged periods of times.
Sleeping on Your Back
Experts recommend pregnant women should avoid sleeping on their backs during the second and third trimesters. This is because sleeping on your back rests the entire weight of the growing uterus and the baby on your back, intestines, and your vena cava, the main vein that carries blood back to the heart from your lower body. This pressure can aggravate backaches and haemorrhoids, make digestion less efficient, interfere with circulation, and may even cause low blood pressure. This can make you feel dizzy. Interference with circulation can also reduce blood flow to the foetus, giving your baby less oxygen and nutrients.1
An observational study carried out by researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand found that a mother’s sleeping position may influence their baby’s activity in late pregnancy, but there was no evidence that the position itself can be harmful to the baby. However, as sleeping on your back can alter the baby’s heart rate, the authors of the study recommend that a mother avoid sleeping on their backs in the last trimester of their pregnancy.2
So, if you find yourself sleeping on your back once in a while, don’t worry! Just roll over to your side. However, make sure you aren’t sleeping on your back for prolonged periods of times.
Sleeping on Your Side
During the second and third trimesters, sleeping on either side – preferably the left, if possible – is the ideal sleeping position for you and your baby. This position allows for maximum blood flow and nutrients to the placenta, and there’s less pressure on the vena cava. Sleeping on your side also enhances kidney function, which means better elimination of waste products and less swelling in your feet, ankles, and hands.
Therefore, sleeping on your left side is the safest sleeping position for women past the first trimester.
Tips on Getting Comfortable While Sleeping
If you’re not used to lying on your side, it can be difficult to find a new sleeping position comfortable. Even people who have always been a side-sleeper can struggle to get a good rest when they’re expecting. Below, you’ll find a handful of tips to enjoy a comfortable sleep on your side.
Use lots of pillows. Try crossing one leg over the other and putting one pillow between them, and another pillow behind your back.
Get a pregnancy pillow. These pillows provide support to different spots on your body – some to your back, others to your knees, some to your belly, and some to all these places.
Prop yourself up. If pillows don’t help, try sleeping in a semi-upright position. Our V-Shaped Back Support Pillow from The Fine Bedding Company is a great choice for when you need to sit up in bed. It supports your neck, back, and shoulders, and is also great for when you’re nursing your little one after birth. Have a look at it here.
Make sure you have a good mattress. Memory foam and latex mattresses are ideal for when you sleep on your side.3 As pregnant women should sleep on their side during the second trimester onwards, memory foam and latex mattresses provide the soft and comfortable surface that lets you enjoy a good night’s sleep. Browse our memory foam mattresses here or check out our latex mattresses here. Or you can consider investing in the Dormeo Mattress Topper Octaspring Body Zone, a supportive memory foam mattress topper that transforms your bed into a luxurious and supportive sleeping surface. Having a mattress that’s got a medium firmness is also ideal for sleeping on your side, and you can browse our selection here.
Don’t get too hot. Most pregnant women often sleep hot4 so using bedding or having a mattress that keeps you cool can be a plus. The 1400 Genoa Latex Mattress from Sealy not only provides comfort and support, but the natural latex in it will remove excess heat and moisture away from you, so you can enjoy an undisturbed sleep.
Remember, it’s completely normal to feel uncomfortable for a few nights, or even a few weeks. Give your body time to adjust to a new sleeping position.