Don’t you just love the idea of sleeping through the pains of pregnancy? Unfortunately getting sleep may not even be an option for some mommies-to-be.
It’s a huge adjustment – but think of it as a preparation for motherhood. Pregnancy is full of changes – hormonal, emotional, mental, and physical.
The pains and discomforts differ from one trimester to another, so the best sleeping position changes a bit as needed. But sticking to a healthy sleeping position becomes more pronounced in the latter months.
In the first trimester, progesterone levels increase exponentially. This keeps the uterus muscles relaxed to avoid premature contractions, and helps the body nurture the mommy-to-be and the foetus. Progesterone helps with the functioning of the placenta by protecting it from any unwanted cell growth.
Having high levels of progesterone has a downside. It makes you feel all sorts of discomfort: nausea, fatigue, morning sickness, or even anxiety. Some females notice this immediately, while others breeze through the first trimester without feeling any symptoms at all.
Best sleeping position: On your left-hand side with knees bent. This position is ideal for your baby’s nourishment because it eases pressure on the liver – allowing oxygen and nutrients to travel via the placenta. The blood flow to the uterus and foetus improves accordingly.
While it’s good to train yourself this early, tossing and turning can be inevitable for some women. If you find yourself still waking up in your usual stomach or back sleeping position, don’t fret! The only issue here is the discomfort (if any) – like when your breasts or lower back is sore.
Naturally, as the pregnancy goes on, you’ll find sleeping on your side will be the most comfortable or physically-possible position.
The second trimester is commonly known as the honeymoon stage of pregnancies. The hormones (and emotions) start to subside! This is also the time you feel small movements of your baby – signs that your baby is alive and kickin’ (literally).
Best sleeping position: On your left-hand side with knees bent, still. Since the baby is growing and showing, you’ll need all the necessary nutrients to travel to the placenta for a healthy delivery.
A 2011 Auckland Study found it best to avoid sleeping on your back during this trimester going forward. They say you risk compressing the inferior vena cava, reducing blood supply to you and your baby. According to the study, “women who did not settle to sleep on their left were more likely to experience a late stillbirth compared with women who did.”
There was also an association made between the back-sleeping position and low birth weight in babies – as found in a study of maternal sleep practices in Ghanaian women.
Wait… is it unsafe to sleep on my back or right-hand side during pregnancy?
Don’t worry! The studies mentioned merely suggest avoiding back-sleeping when pregnant. They need more substantial research to make a definitive conclusion that the back-sleeping position has a negative impact on your baby’s health.
There are tons of mothers out there who claim to have slept better on their back or right side and have given birth to healthy babies!
If you – with all your might – attempt to sleep on your left side but wake up on your back, there’s no need to stress! Sleeping on your side is recommended but not the end-all-be-all of sleeping positions. Your body will send you signals to change your sleeping position when your current one gives you discomfort. Pay attention to the signs: nausea, difficulty breathing, back pain, etc.
For any discomfort that seems overbearing, contact your doctor straight away. Ask them what positions, exercises, and massages they could recommend for a better night’s sleep.
Towards the end of your second trimester and the entirety of your third trimester, your growing belly may start to feel very uncomfortable. It may be helpful to prop a pillow under your abdomen or between your legs. You can try experimenting with your pillows to see which gives you the most comfortable sleep. Then again, asking your doctor is your best option when it comes to matters like this.
In a nutshell, the third trimester sees a lot of foetal movement, pain, frequent urination, snoring, decreased sleep quality, and general discomfort.
Best sleeping position: Sleeping on your left side (S.O.S.) is still the best position ESPECIALLY for the third trimester. This is ideal for your baby, kidneys, and helpful if you experience shortness of breath. By this time, it will be difficult to sleep on your stomach and back, anyway.
Some tips for a restful sleep
• If your baby kicks around at night, gently massage your tummy area. Savour this moment to help ease the pain!
• Do some relaxation techniques. Simple yoga and meditation can greatly help if you particularly are nervous or anxious about giving birth. It helps you take your mind off things for a little while.
• Don’t eat large meals before bedtime. Have you heard of the three-hour rule? That’s still applicable even in pregnancy! Just remember to get enough nutrients in the day.
• Avoid drinking a lot of fluid before sleeping. This is the best you can do to avoid frequent urination.
• Sleep on a medium-firm mattress with a cool surface. Because you have a heavier belly and hip area, this part of your body will naturally sink on any mattress. Fortunately, sleeping on a medium-firm mattress is a safe choice. You and your baby get the comfort and support you need whilst sleeping! Should you have a different option for firmness after giving birth, just swap layers with the adjustable Ecosa mattress.
• Take naps in the day to make up for lost sleep. Grab any nap-portunity while you can!
When the time comes that you really can’t sleep anymore, do something you love! Watch a funny show, read a book, write your thoughts down, sketch your baby’s room – anything, everything. Eventually, you’ll feel tired and sleepy. Once the baby arrives, who knows when you’ll be able to enjoy these things next?