Sleep Positions During Pregnancy
I miss sleeping on my stomach.
Throughout pregnancy I laid on my left side as the American Pregnancy Association and most doctors recommend. This prevents compressing the inferior vena cava, which runs along the right side of your body. It also avoids putting pressure on the uterus, which happens if a pregnant woman sleeps on her back. Finally, sleeping on your left side increases the flow of blood and nutrients to the placenta.
I realized how much I miss sleeping on my back the other day when a pregnant friend of mine asked about a comfortable sleeping position for the late stages of pregnancy. Since I’ve been breastfeeding, I avoid lying on my stomach because I’ve been told it can slow milk production. It would be uncomfortable to lie on my stomach, anyway, as my breasts fill up with milk about three hours into the night. So it’s been more than a year than I’ve slept on my stomach–formerly my favorite sleep position!
But back to my friend’s question: what are the most comfortable sleeping positions in the second half of pregnancy when your belly seems to get in the way no matter how you turn?
The answer lies (no pun intended) in pillows — and lots of them.
If your partner doesn’t mind and there’s room in your bed, you may want to place a pillow behind you to keep you from rolling onto your back in your sleep. As your pregnancy progresses and you get larger, the pressure on your uterus from lying on your back may wake you. And it’s not that easy to roll back onto your side.
I found it comfortable to lie with my legs bent and a small pillow between my knees, too.
Finally, the third—and some people may say the most important – pillow should go under your abdomen in front of you to support your belly. Personally, I also liked clutching a pillow to my chest. It made me more comfortable and helped alleviate the tenderness in my breasts.
If you have a full-size body pillow you can use it to support most of your body to keep you comfortable. Since pregnant women tend to be warm all the time you’ll want to opt for one with a cool linen cover.
If you are also suffering from heartburn, the American Pregnancy Association recommends sleeping propped up with pillows. I know pregnant women who slept sitting up in an easy chair because it was the only way they could get comfortable. Hopefully the pillows will help you and you won’t have to go to such extreme measures.
Pregnancy goes by so very quickly. Before long you won’t need pillows to help you find unusual but comfortable sleep positions. Instead, you’ll spend half the night be contorting to fit yourself and your spouse around a co-sleeping toddler who is taking up more room than anyone could imagine for a three-foot tall human being.