Safe Sleeping in Pregnancy (Video)

Sleeping during pregnancy

When you are pregnant, one of the things you’ll hear most often from well-meaning family and friends is to get as much rest as you can before baby comes. Some may even jest that sleeping difficulties during pregnancy is just the body preparing them for the sleep deprivation they’ll experience when baby arrives.

Sleep is an important part of a healthy and comfortable pregnancy. Unfortunately, as your pregnancy progresses it can prove more difficult to get a good night of rest. Pregnancy can also bring with it increased levels of fatigue, which could just leave you feeling miserable as you find yourself unable to get the rest that you need.

Do you find yourself tossing and turning? Are you a stomach sleeper who suddenly finds that they are unable to sleep on their stomach? You may be wondering what some safe positions are for sleeping during pregnancy, so that you can get the rest that you need.

Sleeping on your back
versus your side

It is recommended that pregnant women do not sleep flat on their back. If you do typically fall asleep on your back, it is considered safe to continue doing so through your first trimester. The same holds true for sleeping on your stomach during the first trimester. As your pregnancy progresses, and your uterus gets heavier, it is better to opt for another sleeping position.

Sleeping on your back when pregnant, particularly as your pregnancy progresses, can apply presser to the inferior vena cava and aorta. This is the major vein and artery responsible for moving blood between your heart and lower body.

Women with high blood pressure or diabetes may be at an increased risk for developing associated complications. Pressure on your blood vessels and other organs when you sleep on your back may lead to an increased risk for the following:

  • Backache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Digestive concerns
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Dizziness upon waking
  • Decreased circulation to your heart

Sleeping on your side when pregnant can help you to breathe better. It also decreases the pressure on your uterus. Your body will be able to direct more nutrients and blood to the placenta and the baby.

Beginning to alter your sleeping position in the first weeks of pregnancy will allow you to get used to sleeping in that position before you find yourself needing to switch to side sleeping exclusively.

Pillows 101 when

Using pillows can help to keep you comfortable when you are sleeping. Place pillows behind your back and in front of your chest, so you can comfortably roll without needing to sleep on your back or stomach. Many pregnant women find that placing sturdy pillows between their legs can help to add a level of comfort when sleeping on their side.

Some women find that they prefer to sleep in an almost upright position. Prop yourself up with pillows or consider sleeping in a recliner that allows you to keep your legs elevated.

Propping yourself up with pillows can help you with the shortness of breath that is commonly experienced in the third trimester.

A thin pillow placed under your growing bellow, fro 20 weeks onward, can help to support the weight of you belly as it continues to grow.

There are several pregnancy pillows and sleep position adjusters on the market. They have been shown to be effective at relieving some of the sleep discomfort that pregnant women face.

Sleeping during pregnancy

Why am I so tired?

During the first weeks of pregnancy, the hormone progesterone will increase dramatically. Your metabolism will also increase. This can result in feeling sleepy during the day.

How much sleep do I need each night?

It is recommended that pregnant women get 7 hours of sleep each night. While it is expected that you will get up several times at night to answer the call of nature, you should be able to comfortably go back to sleep quickly.

Is there anything I can do to get comfortable rest?

Keep your bedroom dark and quiet. Pregnant women tend to run a bit warmer, so it’s important to keep your bedroom at a comfortable cool temperature. Stick to a sleep schedule, where possible. Stay active during the day.

What if I wake up on my back?

It is quite common for pregnant women to fall asleep on their side, only to wake up sleeping on their back. Don’t be overly alarmed if you do wake up to find that you are flat on your back. It shouldn’t have an adverse effect on the health of your baby. Simply adjust your position, close your eyes and settle back to sleep on your side.

Do you have additional questions or concerns about sleeping during pregnancy? Be sure to call Obstetrics & Gynaecology Consulting Group.

How can pregnancy impact sleep?

There are several aspects of pregnancy that can disrupt your ability to get good night of rest. These include the following:

  • Morning sickness
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Lower back pain
  • Breast tenderness
  • Movement of the growing baby
  • Leg and foot cramps
  • Indigestion and snoring
  • Shortness of breath
  • Snoring or sleep apnea
  • Anxiety about the upcoming delivery

Those who typically suffer from sleep disorders, or sleep-disordered breathing, may find that their conditions worsen when they are pregnant.

5 female specialist obstetricians, O&GCG Melbourne, Dr Jean Wong, Dr Leah Xu, Dr Natalia Khomko, Dr Perri Dyson and Dr Robin Thurman

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