Recommended Pregnancy Sleeping Positions | Gleneagles Hospitals
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Women’s Health

Recommended Pregnancy Sleeping Positions

09 April 2024 · 4 mins read


Learn about the recommended sleeping positions during pregnancy as well as those that should be avoided.

Importance of Sleep During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be an exciting journey for mothers, but the little bundle of joy growing inside your womb could make it challenging to sleep at night.

In general, expecting mothers are encouraged to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night, just like the general population.

Studies have shown that most pregnant women encounter sleep disruptions during their pregnancy journey such as difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings, and fatigue when they are awake. Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Risk of prolonged labour and rates of delivery via caesarean section also increases.

Recommended Sleeping Positions for Pregnant Mothers

  • During early pregnancy: During the early stage of your pregnancy, sleeping on your back or stomach is usually still comfortable.
  • During the second trimester: This is when sleeping on your side becomes more comfortable. Sleeping on your side during pregnancy enhances blood circulation to the placenta and foetus, lowering the risk of stillbirth. As the foetus grows, the weight of the uterus can compress the vena cava, hindering blood flow to the heart. Sleeping on the left side can relieve or prevent this pressure, improving blood and nutrient delivery to the baby. Nevertheless, sleeping on the right side is also acceptable. Alternating between sides at night helps prevent discomfort and excessive pressure on any one side.
  • During the third trimester: Continue to sleep on your side. Yet, as your belly expands, achieving a comfortable position can become difficult. Try using pillows for support by positioning them behind your back and beneath your belly. Additionally, placing a pillow between your knees can relieve pressure on your hips and lower back.

Sleep Positions to Avoid During Pregnancy

  • Sleeping on your back: As your baby grows, you may find it difficult to sleep with it weighing on your spine, especially during the third trimester. Sleeping on your back may also hamper blood flow to your uterus and your inferior vena cava (ICV), which runs parallel to your spine and supplies blood to your heart.
  • Sleeping on your stomach: Another sleeping position that you need to avoid during pregnancy is sleeping face-down because it is uncomfortable and impractical, exerting pressure on the uterus and organs.

Finding a Comfortable Sleeping Position During Pregnancy

While most experts recommend sleeping on your sides in the last trimester, the best sleeping position during pregnancy may vary in the first and second trimesters. Here’s how you can find a position that best suits you:

  • Use a lot of pillows: There is no such thing as too many pillows when it comes to supporting your stomach, back and hips. There are even special pillows designed for pregnant women, such as U-shaped and C-shaped pregnancy pillows, or wedge pillows.
  • Bend your knees: Sleeping with one or both knees bent (as in a foetal position) can help support your back and relieve back pain. For best results, sleep on your side with both knees bent.
  • Elevate your upper body: Some pregnant women find it easier to sleep with a higher pillow or even in a recliner. Alternatively, you can prop yourself with more pillows to relieve pressure on your back.

Tips for Better Sleep During Pregnancy

Here are some steps you can take for better sleep during your pregnancy journey:

  • Find your most comfortable sleeping position: Explore sleeping positions that suits you. Place pillows beneath your belly, behind your back, and between your legs for extra comfort. You can use specialised pregnancy pillows for added support too.
  • Ensure comfortable sleep environment: Maintaining a cool, comfortable bedroom temperature can promote better sleep. Avoid using your bedroom for sleep-disrupting activities such as working, watching TV, etc.
  • Maintain a sleep schedule: Stick to a consistent sleep routine including going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
  • Take a nap if you are experiencing poor nighttime sleep: Nap between 20-30 minutes and not too close to bedtime.
  • Be mindful with what you eat and drink: Limit your caffeine intake to ensure you can fall asleep faster at bedtime. Refrain from eating large meals at night as it might lead to indigestion and heartburn that can affect your sleep quality.
  • Stay physically active and manage your stress: Use relaxation techniques if you are stressed. Being stressed out will only make it harder to fall asleep. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation may help soothe your nerves. Staying physically active also helps promote better sleep at night.

Make an Appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals

Pregnancy can bring drastic changes to your lifestyle, but it is important to prioritise your sleep despite it all. Sleeping positions play a huge role in your sleep quality, especially as your baby grows and certain positions become uncomfortable or even harmful.

We hope this guide has helped you understand the best sleeping positions during pregnancy and how to improve the quality of your sleep.

Get in touch with us to book an appointment today to consult with our Obstetrics and Gynaecology specialists, or find out more about our Obstetrics and Gynaecology Services at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital.

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