A staggering two-thirds of women experience back pain during pregnancy, and a fifth of all pregnant women encounter pain in the pelvic and hip areas. We understand how difficult it is to get into a comfortable position when you are pregnant, but finding the right position for you and your baby is truly important. Numerous studies show that the health of the mom and the baby can be affected by sleep positioning, so it is important to know what works and what does not. Making a few changes to your routine sleep position can have a dramatic impact on your overall health and energy level during pregnancy.
Even as early as the first trimester, it is recommended that pregnant women make an effort to sleep on their left side. This position is good for the baby, as it improves the flow of blood and nutrients to the placenta. Sleeping on the left side also improves the mother’s kidney function, which helps prevent swelling (edema) during pregnancy.
Using pillows to prop and stabilize the body during sleep also makes for a more restful night. Placing one pillow under the belly and another behind the back relieves pressure and reduces the stress placed on the back and hip areas.
For women who are typically stomach and back sleepers, it is helpful to start slowly and “train” yourself how to sleep on the left side. Though sleeping on the left side is not as critical the first few weeks of pregnancy, starting the change early will help you adjust and rest better in the months to come.
For obvious reasons, pregnant women have a difficult time sleeping on their stomachs and the change to sleeping on the side will come naturally as the baby grows! However when you lie on your back, the weight of the uterus slows the return of blood flow to your heart, which delays blood flow to the baby. Decreased blood flow to the baby means the baby is receiving less oxygen and other vital nutrients. Your body will let you know that sleeping on your back is harmful to the baby—you will experience dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, increased back pain.
If you find it impossible to sleep on your side, or if sleep escapes you no matter how many pillows you use for support, it is perfectly fine to sleep in a reclining chair.
Interested in discovering more about sleep positioning in pregnancy, or wanting to know how physical medicine care can ease the most common pregnancy symptoms? Call our office today to schedule a FREE consultation.