If you’re used to sleeping on your stomach, you probably can’t imagine falling asleep any other way — and you’re far from alone! While we sometimes wish it wasn’t so, it’s important to know that things change once you get pregnant – and that includes everything from drinking coffee in the morning to sleeping on your stomach at night.
You’ll have to make some compromises as you get closer to your due date, but that’s a small price to pay for the joys of motherhood. Before you know it, you’ll be back to sleeping on your stomach but in the meantime, let’s find out which sleeping positions are off-limits and why.
Is It Safe to Sleep on Your Belly While Pregnant?
You’ll be happy to know that during your first trimester you have the green light to sleep in any position you prefer. So, if you’re a stomach sleeper, get those hours in while you still can because once you start showing, you’re going to have to make some modifications.
Your body goes through a lot during the beginning stages of pregnancy. Women report feeling extra tired and nauseated, causing them to seek some extra shut-eye. If sleeping on your stomach is the easiest way for you to rest in harmony, then be rest assured no harm will befall your baby.
However, once you enter your second trimester or once you start showing, you should no longer be sleeping on your stomach, as it can harm the baby.
When Should You Stop Sleeping on Your Stomach During Pregnancy?
During the first trimester, your uterus is still very small. However, as you progress into your second trimester, your belly and breasts start to grow, making it very uncomfortable, and at times painful, for you to sleep on your stomach.
But what about your baby? Will he/she mind if you take a snooze on your belly? The answer is yes, and even more so as your progress into the third trimester.
At this point, your uterus, amniotic fluid, muscles, and fetal membranes are doing everything they can to keep your baby safe and sound. Unfortunately, sleeping on your stomach adds weight and pressure onto your uterus and belly, which can be dangerous for your baby.
For these reasons, doctors recommend that pregnant women should avoid sleeping on their stomachs once they reach the second trimester and state it’s particularly bad during the third.
Sleeping on your stomach isn’t the only position you should avoid when pregnant. Sleeping on your back can also cause issues.
Why Sleeping on Your Back Is Bad for You
You might think that sleeping on your back is the best way to snooze while pregnant, but that isn’t the case. In fact, experts warn pregnant women against sleeping on their backs during their second and third trimesters.
This is because the weight of your belly and breasts can become too heavy for your back to support. The added weight can push down on your intestines and your inferior vena cava — the main vein in your lower body responsible for carrying blood to your heart. Sleeping on your back can cause the following issues to arise:
- Low blood pressure
- Numbness in your extremities
- Reduced blood flow to the fetus
As a result, your baby may receive a lower amount of oxygen and nutrients than necessary, which in turn will affect its development. Even then, it’s impossible to control your movements while you sleep, which is why you may wake up on your back from time to time. However, this is not a reason to panic, as sleeping on your back for a short amount of time is expected and will not cause your baby any harm.
In the end, all you can do is limit the amount of time you spend on your back and belly by falling asleep on your side — the best sleeping position for pregnant women.
What Is the Best Sleeping Position for Pregnant Women?
The best position to sleep in while pregnant is on your side — but not just any side! Doctors recommend that pregnant women attempt to sleep on their left side instead of their right. This is because the larger your belly gets, the more it will lean on your liver should you sleep on your right side. Your uterus can start to put pressure on your liver, causing you to experience acid reflux.
Moreover, sleeping on your right side while pregnant can restrict blood flow to your heart and organs, which can harm your baby in the long run. Sleeping on the left side, on the other hand, prevents there from being added pressure and weight on your heart, promoting healthy blood circulation. And, since the stomach is on the left side, sleeping in this position can promote healthy bowel movements, too.
Sleeping through the night is a challenge for pregnant women, especially when they pass the 12-week mark. While it is recommended to sleep on the left side, there will be times when you need to switch things up and sleep on the right side for a little while, especially if your left side is feeling numb or sore.
This isn’t a call for concern, and you can actually adopt a few tips and tricks to make sleeping on either side a more enjoyable experience. Believe us when we say: pillows are your friends!
Best Sleeping Tips for Pregnant Women
The closer you get to your due date, the more you’ll want to stick to sleeping on your left side. It also becomes increasingly important not to wake up on your back or attempt to roll over on your stomach. This can feel like an impossible task, but don’t worry – there are plenty of ways you can limit your movements as you sleep while also making your slumber more enjoyable.
Use a U-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow
A pregnancy pillow can limit your movements as it makes it hard for you to rollover in your sleep. It can also provide you with an added sense of comfort.
Use Pillows to Prop Yourself Up
Splurge on pillows and stack them all around you to prevent you from moving in your sleep. If you want to learn more about pregnancy and how to use pillows to your advantage, Dr. Karen Litos created a very informative video on this topic that shows you how to use them to greatest effect.
Sleep With One Knee Bent
If sleeping with both of your knees bent puts too much pressure on your sciatica, keep your lower leg straight, stick a pillow in between your legs, and bend your top knee.
Avoid Eating Sugar Before Bed
Eating sugar before bedtime can make you feel jittery and restless, causing you to toss and turn at night. Limit your sugar intake before going to sleep to prevent this from happening.
Eat Your Last Meal a Few Hours Before Going to Bed
Sleeping with a full stomach can cause you to feel restricted and uncomfortable overnight. It’s best to eat a healthy and fulfilling meal a few hours before going to bed.
Ensure Your Room Is a Comfortable Temperature
If your bedroom is too warm, it can cause you to move around and sweat in your sleep, making for a restless night. This is especially true for women approaching their third trimester during the hot summer months.
When Can I Sleep on My Stomach Again?
Women who deliver their babies vaginally can start sleeping on their stomachs again soon after giving birth — as long as it feels comfortable. Still, there’s a good chance that their breasts will be too sore for this sleeping position. Sleeping on your stomach can press on your breasts, causing them to leak overnight, which isn’t ideal. To prevent this from happening, you can always pump before bedtime.
Women who undergo C-sections, on the other hand, won’t feel comfortable sleeping on their stomachs until their wounds have healed. This can take a few months or more, depending on the case. In the end, you’ll know when it’s time to start sleeping on your stomach again because it will feel natural and comfortable.
While being pregnant may not always be a walk in the park, it’s one of the most life-changing periods in a woman’s life. You’ll sacrifice a lot throughout the 9 months of pregnancy but it will all be worth it when you hold your little bundle of joy. Before you know it, you’ll be back to enjoying the finer things in life — like sleeping on your stomach! We wish you all the best throughout your pregnancy and sincerely hope that you catch as many Z’s as possible before your little one enters the world.