Carrying a baby for 9 months is no easy feat. The joy a woman feels at finding out she’s pregnant is soon replaced by unease and discomfort that keeps growing with the swell of her abdomen for pregnancy can really wreak havoc on the female body by causing back aches, cramped and swollen feet, heartburn, breathlessness and even insomnia, all of which result from sleeping in the wrong position. As your body undergoes a variety of changes, your regular sleeping position also requires a change so that you get that much needed rest.
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Sleeping on your stomach is completely out of the question for obvious reasons. Not only is it uncomfortable but is impossible especially after the fifth month of pregnancy. Sleeping on your back is not the solution either. When you sleep on your back, the entire weight of the uterus presses against the spine, intestines, back muscles and major blood vessels which cause a myriad of problems like muscle aches and back pain, shortness of breath, low blood pressure and reduced circulation to your heart and that of the baby’s, not to mention the development of hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
Finding a comfortable position to sleep in during pregnancy is the most difficult part. For those of you who are used to sleeping on your back or stomach, getting used to another position will be the hardest thing to do. It involves a complete change in your sleeping pattern for most part of your pregnancy but the upside is that it will alleviate your discomfort and may even help you to sleep like a baby.
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The best and universally accepted sleeping position during pregnancy is the “SOS” position or sleep on side. Ideally sleeping on the left side is the safest position for you and your baby. It increases blood flow thereby increasing the amount of nutrients to the placenta and the baby. Additionally, sleeping on the left side also helps the kidneys get rid of waste products and fluids from the body more efficiently so that the swelling in your hands and feet is also reduced.
Sleeping in one position throughout the night as we all know is not possible. You will need to rotate your position during the course of the night. So the alternative is to sleep on your right but this position isn’t the safest either. This is because sleeping on the right side puts pressure on the vena cava, one of the two large veins which carry blood into the right side of the heart, causing reduced blood flow to the foetus and dizziness and nausea for the mother-to-be. The best thing to do therefore is to flip from side to side, favouring the left side more.
While sleeping on the side may still cause some of the problems and give you restless nights, sleeping propped up on pillows is a huge relief. The Pillow Prop position greatly relieves pain and improves sleep. Placing a pillow under your belly, between your knees and behind your back helps to lessen the strain while reducing the swelling in your ankles. If heartburns and breathlessness are getting the better of you, try propping your upper body with pillows. It really is a saviour.
The safest position during pregnancy may not be comfortable for you but it is what’s best for you and the growing foetus. Gradually changing your sleeping position from the first few months of pregnancy will make it easier for you to get used to your new position. Your body itself will find its comfort zone and if at all you wake up in the middle of the night in the wrong position, do not stress over it. Just flip to the left and trust your body to do the rest.