Pregnancy and insomnia go hand-in-hand, and once you add a growing belly into the mix, it’s clear that we pregnant gals have our work cut out for us. If you’re tired of tossing and turning at night because you just can’t seem to get comfortable, then you’re not alone. Fortunately, finding the right position can make a world of difference in helping you get that shut-eye you need for a healthy pregnancy.
Why Is a Good Night’s Sleep so Important During Pregnancy?
Getting a good night’s rest is more than just waking up all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning. It’s also about keeping your body healthy and working at its optimal prime. When you sleep, your body takes advantage of that time to start working on resetting and repairing itself. For instance, did you know that your body actually makes memories as you dream?
Plus, your blood vessels restore themselves as you sleep, which is super important at this time, as they’re under a serious amount of pressure due to the extra blood flow needed to help grow your little one. And let’s not overlook the role of rest on your immune system, either. If you don’t get enough rest at night, you’re basically setting out a welcome mat for each and every germ that crosses your path.
Finally, getting enough shut-eye can help ward off one of the more serious issues that can arise during pregnancy: gestational diabetes. When you sleep, your body’s able to make the necessary adjustments to how it reacts to insulin, the hormone that regulates your glucose. If you don’t get enough rest, you’re all but asking for high blood sugar levels and an elevated risk of developing diabetes.
What Is the Best Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy?
If you’re a stomach sleeper, consider this your warning. Once you enter your second trimester, you can kiss that sleeping position goodbye, as your growing bump simply won’t allow it any longer. And let’s not even talk about sleeping on your back while pregnant. Let’s just say that it’s not unlike a turtle that got flipped over. It’s not a pretty picture.
Instead, you’re going to want to sleep on your side – and not just any side, either, but your left side. Medical experts have determined that this is the best sleeping position for pregnant ladies, as it helps encourage healthy blood flow to your little one as it grows inside your belly.
That said, if you can’t sleep on your left side, no worries. Any position that you can get comfortable in is better than a restless night of tossing and turning. It all boils down to getting enough sleep at night, so whatever position makes this easier for you, the better.
Sleeping Positions Options During Pregnancy
Not sure what sleeping positions are going to be best for you and your growing baby? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here are the top three preferred ones, as well as my recommendations on when you can use them during your pregnancy.
1. Sleeping on Your Belly During Pregnancy (Not Ideal for the Third Trimester)
For you belly sleepers out there, you don’t have to give up this position just yet. Feel free to continue to rest on your stomach up through the first trimester and part of the second one, too. However, once your bump starts to get in the way, then you’re going to want to shift onto your side.
2. Sleeping on Your Back During Pregnancy
While there are a lot of benefits to sleeping on your back, especially when you’re not pregnant, you’re going to want to shelf this position once your bump starts to show. The reason for this isn’t just because sleeping on your back is super uncomfortable and can lead you to staring at the ceiling all night, either. It can also hurt your baby, too.
According to healthcare experts, sleeping on your back in your second and third trimester can put too much weight onto your back, intestines, and a particular vein called the vena cava. You see, this vein has a very important job, which is to carry blood back to your heart from your lower body. The last thing you want to do is cut it off and put yourself in danger.
Also, just between you and me, sleeping on your back can also lead to some pretty nasty side effects. Let me sum them up for you in just one word: hemorrhoids. Yeah, you read that right. But it doesn’t stop there. It can also make it harder for you to digest your food, leading to rancid burps and acid reflux. You may also develop poor circulation and struggle with low blood pressure.
Not only can this make existing issues like sleep apnea worse, but it can even lead to the tragic loss of your baby and a late-term stillbirth. You just won’t want to take that chance, momma. For you and your baby’s sake, just sleep on your side.
3. Sleeping on Your Left or Right Side During Pregnancy
Aaaaaaand here we have the clear winner: sleeping on your side. While yes, sleeping on your left side is ideal, you can’t go wrong if you prefer sleeping on your right side. By choosing this position, you can help ensure you get the most amount of nutrients to your baby, as well as maintaining maximum blood flow.
In turn, you’ll have less pressure on your veins and much better kidney function. (In layperson’s terms, basically you’ll be able to kiss a large portion of that third-trimester bloating and puffiness goodbye. And heck, who knows? You might even be able to put your wedding ring back on and even tie your shoes once more!)
Oh, and another added benefit of sleeping on your side? If you’ve been diagnosed with restless leg syndrome (which can get much worse during pregnancy) and leg cramps, you’ll find that sleeping on your side can help alleviate those unwelcome symptoms. By choosing this position, with your knees slightly bent, you can reduce the pressure on your extremities and encourage blood flow through your legs.
Tips for Sleeping Comfortably While Pregnant
If you’re already prone to insomnia, then you’re probably no stranger to those fitful, sleepless nights of misery. Before you started adding to your family, though, you could simply take a couple of melatonin or sip on some chamomile tea to knock yourself out. Unfortunately, with your baby on the way, you’re going to have to find other ways to help yourself successfully nod off.
That’s where good sleep hygiene steps in. If you’re not already in the habit of getting six hours or more of sleep at night, then now’s the time to start working on going to bed earlier. Make sure your head hits the pillow at the exact same time every night, and set an alarm for the a.m., too. Yes, it’s going to stink at first, and you’re going to want to fight it every step of the way.
However, once you start waking up feeling refreshed in the morning, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start doing this before. Oh, and if you’re looking for more tips to help you get those much-needed zzz’s at night? Well, look no further. I’ve got you covered.
Support Your Body with the Right Pillow
With your body changing and your belly growing, you’re going to want to make comfort your number-one priority while pregnant. The best way you can do this is by reaching for a pregnancy pillow to help ease you from trimester to trimester. And the good news is, there are literally tons of pregnancy pillows out there, just waiting for their chance to support you and your tummy.
1. Use Lots of Pillows.
Pillows are going to be your new BFF while pregnant. Small pillows, large pillows, pillows that are shaped like every letter of the alphabet… Just trust me, you’re going to want to stock up on pillows in every shape and size to help you get a good night’s sleep while growing your little one.
For instance, a full-body U-shaped or C-shaped pregnancy pillow can help support your legs, neck, and spine while pregnant. A wedge pillow can easily be tucked beneath your belly to help prop it up while you sleep. Or, if you want to experiment with sleeping in a seated position, you can brace it up against the small of your back. See? I told you. Pillows are seriously awesome for expectant mothers.
2. Shop for the right Pregnancy Pillow for Your Body.
Of course, just like no two pregnant women are the exact same, neither are pregnancy pillows. They come in a veritable buffet of shapes and sizes, and with so many out there, you’re sure to find the right one for your needs. Whether you want to support your legs or your upper body, or you’re wanting to snuggle with it for that mid-afternoon nap, you definitely want to check out my guide to choosing the right pregnancy pillow HERE.
3. Prop Yourself Up.
Okay, I’ll admit it. Sometimes pillows aren’t going to do the trick. In those rare cases where no amount of pillows are helping you get that sleep you need, then you may have to start thinking about sleeping in a semi-upright position. A recliner is perfect for this, or if you want to snag yourself a “boyfriend” style pillow or two, that can also help you maintain a near-sitting position while you snooze.
Being pregnant can be an incredible and wonderful time for many mommas-to-be. It can also be a serious bummer, especially if you’re struggling with getting enough sleep at night. While most family doctors advise against using sleep medications while pregnant, as they can hurt your growing baby, you may want to talk to your OB-GYN about using natural herbal remedies at night.
However, don’t take anything without talking to your doctor first. And remember – by finding the right sleeping position, you can finally put your insomnia to bed, literally. And as you move through each trimester and you grow closer and closer to your due date, I hope you’re finally able to get the beauty sleep you need (and definitely deserve!) to have a healthy and happy pregnancy and – of course, more importantly – baby.