Sleeping on your back during pregnancy can be trickier than you think – this is especially so in the later half of pregnancy. Does sleeping face up have any effects on the mother’s or the baby’s health? What effects does sleeping positions have on the mother and the baby, and when can you sleep facing up?
Growing uterus puts stress on the stomach in third trimester
The top of the uterus goes above the navel when the uterus grows bigger, especially when the baby undergoes a growth spurt in the 8th month of pregnancy. This puts stress on the surrounding organs, and this, in turn, causes edema and varicose veins to appear as the blood vessels in the calves swell up. When your belly becomes bigger, you might find yourself sleeping more fitfully as it becomes difficult to sleep in the same position for a long time.
Sleeping on back during pregnancy: Supine hypotensive syndrome
Some expecting moms find themselves out of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat, having palpitations or find themselves unable to sleep deeply when they sleep on their backs from the second trimester onward. If sleeping seems as tiring as running with all your might, then you might be suffering from supine hypotensive syndrome (SHS).
The expanding uterus puts pressure on the aorta and inferior vena cava located near the right side of the backbone. This makes it difficult for blood to return to the heart and cause blood circulation to slow down. Think of it as stepping on a hose – that slows down the speed at which water flows out. The same goes for your blood circulation as well.
How to prevent yourself from getting SHS
Supine hypotensive syndrome (SHS) might make you feel physically ill and out of breath, and if your condition worsens, this could make you feel faint. A chronic case of supine hypotensive syndrome can cause intrauterine hypoxia, a condition in which the fetus doesn’t get enough oxygen.
If you find it harder and harder to breathe when you’re lying on your back while sleeping, then you might want to try sleeping on your left side. This reduces the stress on the inferior vena cava on the right side of your body and you might get better-quality sleep.
If you’re too used to sleeping in a supine position and won’t have it any other way, put a cushion behind your lower back to support your spine – this will help relieve the stress on your body and prevent supine hypotensive syndrome.
Supine position has an effect on you and the fetus?
Sleeping in the supine position can cause your belly to tighten: This is due to the uterus pressing down on the vena cava – but you’ll feel this as a physical tightening of your abdominal skin.
Does sleeping in a supine position really decrease the amount of oxygen going to your baby? There is no need to worry unduly – this doesn’t affect your baby directly. Although there have been research results on how sleeping face up increases the risk of fetal death, the sample size was small and thus there is no sufficient evidence to prove this statement true or false.
Your baby is protected by the amniotic fluid in the sac, so even if you lie on your back and sleep, it won’t harm your baby directly. So, what position should you sleep in? There is no right answer, nor is there only one answer. What you can do is sleep in a position that you’re physically comfortable in – if you’re comfortable, your baby will be too!
Sleeping on back during pregnancy: When should I stop?
If you have absolutely no problems sleeping on your back, then there is no need to worry about this too much. There are expecting moms who find sleeping on their backs, be it in the second or third trimester, the best position to sleep in. If that’s the case for you, great!
However, upon waking up, if you find that your belly is tight or you have abdominal cramps, it might mean that your stomach is weighing heavily on your organs. Try changing positions and lie on your side and see if there are any changes in your condition.
In the first trimester of pregnancy, you don’t have to worry about the occasional cramps or tightening in your abdomen, but if you’re into the second and third trimester of pregnancy, then there is a need to be more careful because cramps can occur more easily. Find a good position and rest well!
Recommended sleeping position during pregnancy?
Sleeping in a supine position in the first trimester of pregnancy won’t be much of a problem. If you’re having problems with edema or you wake up each day feeling like you didn’t get enough shuteye, you can prop your legs up with cushions or put a cushion behind your back.
If you didn’t experience any problems then, but find it difficult to get a good night’s rest when your pregnancy continues to progress, that’s an indication that you should change your sleeping position! Prop up the upper half of your body with cushions or put a cushion under your knees to help your blood flow better. Find the best position that suits you best – it’s time to get all the extra cushions out and give it a go!
You might want to try the Sims position – the position recommended to expecting moms; it’s said to be very effective in helping you get the beauty sleep you need.
Sleep like a baby in a good sleeping position
You might be feeling a little down that your pregnancy affects even the quality of sleep you have – taking away what you need to feel rested and ready to face another new day. However, the growing uterus that is weighing down on your organs and giving you a hard time sleeping facing up is the baby you’ve been waiting for!
So, don’t be disheartened and try to find a sleeping position that suits you best. Remember that you’re able to sleep like a log every night, you’ll be able to live each day to the fullest! So take some time to try out different positions – don’t just sleep on it! Get down to doing it! When you’re able to sleep like a baby, your baby will be glad, too!