Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy: What's Safe?

Pregnant sleep

Sleeping during pregnancy can be one of the most uncomfortable parts of the entire ordeal. Towards the middle and end of pregnancy, there does not seem to be a "comfortable" sleeping position or a good night's rest. However, knowing what positions are safe for sleeping can help with some discomfort and worries, and there are some things you can do to find sleeping positions that might be less uncomfortable than others.

Sleeping On Your Left Side

Regarding safety, the most common recommendation is to sleep on your left side throughout pregnancy. This can get uncomfortable for individuals who were previously back or stomach sleepers or who do not like to sleep in the same position all night. What happens if you wake up from a good night's rest and have rolled to the right side, your stomach, or your back while sleeping? The good news is that it is likely okay. If your body puts you in that position while unconscious and you're not experiencing discomfort, sleeping like that for at least a few hours is alright.  

Trust Your Body

Trust your body; it will show signs that a sleep position is unsafe for your baby. Rolling from side to side is another great option if you feel anxious or uncomfortable about back or belly sleeping. Just because the left side is most preferred does not make the right side unsafe again if your body begins to give you signs that a position is unsafe, like making it hard to breathe, losing feeling in your extremities, etc.

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Pillows, Pillows, & More Pillows

The best recommendation for more comfortable sleeping would be to either get a pregnancy or body pillow or stack up a bunch of pillows you already have to provide support. Areas on the body that often feel better when supported are having a few pillows between the knees, having a pillow underneath the belly, and having pillows supporting the back. These are all great ways to get support. You know your body best, and you can likely tell if an area needs more support than another. Go with what you know and try different things out. There can never be too many pillows or support.

Another comfort measure some individuals take is ordering a pregnancy belly pillow for sleeping. If you are used to sleeping on your belly, that can make sleeping any other way feel difficult. Specifically designed pillows and support systems allow for safe stomach sleeping all pregnancy long. Even if you don't want to sleep that way all night, getting a pregnancy belly pillow can be a nice splurge to get some extra hours of sleep in.

Side-lying Release Position

One position that not only supports positive fetal positioning but is also highly comfortable is the side-lying release position. While in this position, the pregnant person lays on the side of their choice with their head level with the rest of their body. They then move their top leg over so that they are basically laying as far onto their stomach as comfortable. When working on positioning a baby, hanging this leg off of the bed or couch is even better. The best way to do this position is to make sure you sleep this way on both sides to keep the pelvic floor aligned. This position also increases pelvic mobility, releases muscle spasms, and can ease pregnancy pains.

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Body Work

Another suggestion for getting better sleep is to have body work done. Pregnancy massages, chiropractic care, foot zoning, and acupuncture care are somewhat of a splurge but well worth every penny. There are some physical pains in pregnancy that pillows and good positions cannot fix. Simply getting chiropractic care once a week or once a month, depending on your needs, can make a big difference in how well you can sleep and how comfortable you are while sleeping.

Conquering Insomnia During Pregnancy

Suppose sleep is not coming due to the inability of your body to relax or insomnia. In that case, there are some great natural options to try and help encourage rest. The most recommended amongst the birthing community is drinking the CALM Magnesium drink or adding a Magnesium supplement to your daily regimen. Magnesium is excellent for helping with restless-leg syndrome, encouraging relaxation, and regulating stress and anxiety. Another idea would be to take a nice warm bath with Epsom salts or Magnesium flakes to help relax the muscles and prepare for sleep. In addition, meditation programs like Hypnobabies or Hypnobirthing can help with stress and anxiety management and encourage deeper sleep and falling asleep faster. 

Other suggestions for daily practice would be to avoid too much caffeine, hydrate earlier in the day to prevent excessive bathroom breaks at night, eat a small high-in protein snack right before bed, work out or move your body, and have sex before bed.

If none of these ideas work, sleep can be made up with small naps throughout the day. There is no time for some individuals, but if you are available, naps can be a great way to get your body the sleep it desperately needs. The reminder I always give myself while pregnant and not sleeping is that pregnancy is a preparation for parenthood. Our bodies prepare us in small ways for the lack of sleep that inevitably comes with a newborn. If you are struggling with sleep so much that it impacts your daily life or mental health, contact your care provider. Some great over-the-counter medications are safe for pregnancy and can help immensely if nothing else works.

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