What is the Best Sleep Position in Pregnancy?

Pregnancy changes a young mother’s body dramatically for nine months.  These changes come as a result of elevated hormones, the placenta, and the baby growing rapidly within the womb. These changes in your body can make it difficult for an expecting mother to sleep. This leads many pregnant women to ask, “What is the best sleep position in pregnancy?”

An example of your child’s growth affecting your sleep pattern is during your second trimester. At this time, your uterus is large enough to put pressure on other organs within your pelvis.  If the baby’s head rests on your sciatic nerve you can get pain down the leg called sciatica.  The baby’s body and uterus can also put pressure on the large blood vessel returning blood from your legs and pelvis.  This blood vessel is called the “venae cava”.

Sleeping On Your Back Has Risks

If your preferred sleep position during pregnancy is on your back you run the risk of your uterus and baby compressing the venae cava.  This reduces the amount of blood flow returning to your heart and puts both you and the child at risk.  That is why we encourage pregnant mothers to sleep on either their right or left side during pregnancy.  However a recent study in the British Medical Journal was even more specific.  The investigators reported that while the right side sleep position in pregnancy was better than sleeping on the back; it was not as good as sleeping on the left side.  They also noted that getting up once or twice to urinate during the middle of the night had a beneficial influence for mother and baby.  So do not resist the urge to get out of bed and urinate in the middle of the night.

Advantages of Left-Sided Sleep Position

There are other advantages to the left-sided sleep position during pregnancy besides improved wellness for you and the baby.  The bulk of your stomach is on the left side of your abdomen.  When you lay on your left side, the food in your stomach is below the esophagus and this leads to less heartburn in the middle of the night.  Also, your heart is in the left side of your chest.  When you lay on your left side the blood returns from your head and neck more easily than when you lay on the right side.  This means less nasal congestion and snoring which can be big problems as your pregnancy progresses.

So in summary when you think sleep position in pregnancy, think left side.  This will:

  • Improve blood flow to you and the baby
  • Reduce heartburn
  • Reduce snoring and nasal congestion

[Featured Image Courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]


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