“Sleep is the best meditation” – Dalai Lama. And pregnancy holds the truth of this saying because with pregnancy, comes several challenges – like morning sickness, rashes, swelling, etc. Along with these, sleep-deprivation is also one of them.
In your first trimester you might not feel uncomfortable sleeping on any side. You can even manage to lie down on your stomach as well as your back. But as you hit the second trimester, your womb (uterus) becomes heavy, thus making you feel uncomfortable on bed, further making you feel sleep-deprived. And by the time you enter the fag end of your pregnancy (the third trimester) sleeping comfortablywith your huge belly seems to be next to impossible1.
But whether it is your first trimester or third, experts mostly recommend you to not to sleep on your back.
Read on to find out why is it so?
The Harmful Effects of Lying Down on the Back during Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the maternal blood keeps flowing to the baby, providing the baby with its all-necessary nutrients and oxygen for its development. If a pregnant mother tries to sleep on her back, the growing uterus exerts a lot of pressure on the blood vessels, which may not positively affect the supply of blood to the baby, thus affecting the foetal development.Plus, restricted blood flowlowers the blood pressure, which can make you feel giddy. At times you might even faint. And this condition is called hypotension syndrome.
Results in Digestive Problems
Pregnant women are prone to indigestion and heartburn, during pregnancy. Plus, during pregnancy, all the food that a woman has slows down the digestive system, and the food tends to stay in the stomach and the intestine for a longer period of time, thus giving her heartburn or making her feel constipated. On top of that, the growing uterus puts pressure on the intestine. Therefore, sleeping on the back, might just worsen the condition.
Shortness of Breath
Since the pregnancy hormones plays the roller-coaster ride with a pregnant woman, breathing becomes a difficult for a woman. In fact, the growing uterus accumulates a lot of space, and pressurises against the diaphragm (the muscles below the lungs), thus resulting in shortness of breath. Who knows sleeping onthe back might just aggravate the condition? 2
Sleeping on the back for a long period of time, might be harmful for the developing foetus. How? Basically, when a pregnant mother is sleeping on the back, due to the horizontal position, the foetus does not receive the oxygen in the right amounts. Due to which, the stress on the foetus increases, thus resulting in stillbirth in many cases.
What Are The Safe And Comfortable Positions Of Sleeping During Pregnancy?
Owing to the physical changes during pregnancy, sleeping comfortably is quite a challenge. In fact, many pregnant women often think about a suitable sleeping position as experts also do not suggest lying on the back during pregnancy.
Therefore, it will better to give the body time to adjust to new positions of sleeping as the pregnancy progresses. And the new positions are:
Sleeping On Your Left Side
During pregnancy, sleeping on the left side seems to be the best idea. This position doesn’t come in-between the flow of blood and helps in the providing the all-essential nutrients to the growing baby. However, it’s always better to keep changing the sides from left to right, while sleeping.
Keeping Knees and Legs Bent
Might be of real help, while sleeping by the side, as it keeps the pressure of the heart away.
Placing The Pillow Under The Belly
After the first trimester, while lying on one side aids in aligning the body and keeps the pressure of the lower leg and back low, placing the pillow at the back and in the front may allow the pregnant woman to bend comfortably. In fact, tucking a pillow in-between the legs can be of good support. However, for full-body support, a wedge-shaped pillow or an all-around body pillow can be a good option.
To Sum Up
During pregnancy, choosing a comfortable sleeping position is beneficial for the unborn baby’s health. However, consulting a doctor for a comfortable sleeping position during pregnancy is always preferred.
Author Bio: Prapti Chauhan is a professor of Genetics in Bangalore. She has contributed to several online research papers. However, she passionately develops content on pregnancy, childbirth, childcare, and benefits of cord blood banking and umbilical cord lining, and more.