Sleeping is vital for all, and doctors suggest sleeping for at least eight hours for the average human being for being mentally and physically fit and active. Though this scenario changes or becomes a complex one when one gets pregnant. Hormonal changes, the nausea feeling of morning sickness, the frequency of urination are among the common causes of sleep deprivation during pregnancy. Experts also believe that sleeping well keeps the expectant mother away from stress and keeps many diseases away. Sleeping is vital for the growth and development of the mother and the baby, but it is also important to know if lying on the stomach during pregnancy is better than lying on the back or if a toddler sitting on the stomach during pregnancy is harmful.
We shall have a look at a few pointers and answer the questions regarding the same.
Sleeping On Tummy During Pregnancy
1. First trimester or the first leg of pregnancy
Sleeping on the stomach in the initial phase of pregnancy is safe since the uterus is safely nestled behind the pubic bone. The pubic bone helps in preventing external pressure from doing any harm to the fetus1.
2. Second trimester or second leg of pregnancy
This time is also referred to as the “honeymoon period”. One symptom experienced while sleeping on a tummy at this time is heartburn. This happens as the uterus pushes against the digestive organs. Sleeping on the stomach at this hour puts extra pressure on these organs and increases the risk associated with heartburn2.
3. Third trimester or third leg of pregnancy
A common question asked at this time is, “if lying on the stomach during 3rd trimester of pregnancy is advisable”. At this time, the size of the fetus is growing at a good pace. Lying on the stomach puts additional pressure on the vena cava. Vena cava refers to the main vein that pumps blood from the heart to the legs. This can also be dangerous for the baby and can reduce the nutrient supply as well3.
Related Reading: Excessive Sleeping During Pregnancy – Causes, And Remedies
Sleeping Positions In Pregnancy
It is just not important to sleep but also important to know the best and the worst sleeping positions as well4.
1. Best sleeping position during pregnancy
Lying sideways is considered the best sleeping position during pregnancy. This is also because the blood circulation is improved and so is the kidney productivity. Studies indicate that sleeping on the left side helps with the proper nutrition of the fetus.
2. Worst sleeping position during pregnancy
When lying on the back, there is a lot of pressure on the spine by the uterus. As the uterus presses against it, it results in a back pain, obstruction of blood flow, and hemorrhoids. This can simultaneously affect the nutrition of the baby and the blood pressure level of the expectant mother resulting in dizziness.
What Happens If A Pregnant Woman Lays On Her Stomach?
In the above paragraphs, we have studied the worst and best sleeping patterns, but it is normal to ask if it is dangerous to lay on your stomach while pregnant. A few disadvantages of lying on the stomach during pregnancy are5:
- It puts pressure on the back resulting in backache
- It can reduce the blood flow to the placenta resulting in nutritional issues for the baby
- It can put pressure on the breasts which are sore and tender due to hormonal changes
- It becomes physically difficult by the end of the pregnancy
Tips For Better Sleep
Lying on the stomach during pregnancy is certainly not a good option, yet there are a few tips that can be used for getting sound sleep.
1. Diet can help with proper sleep
Diet is very important for a good night’s sleep. It is advisable not to have acidic and spicy foods to avoid heartburn. Experts also recommend having protein rich foods during pregnancy before one goes to sleep. This helps in avoiding low blood sugar which obstructs sleep.
2. Meditation leads to a good sleep during pregnancy
Stress and anxiety are the biggest obstructers during pregnancy. Meditation helps to relax and also guides the brain to divert the focus on “now” or present and not worry about the past or future6.
3. Exercise can help with good sleep during pregnancy
Doing regular exercise during pregnancy has many benefits and it helps to minimize some symptoms which are related to pregnancy like hot flashes which can make sleeping difficult. Certain things to keep in mind are7:
- It is not advisable to do intense exercises like weightlifting, aerobics, kettlebell, etc. All these exercises contribute to dizziness and fatigue which is a symptom of pregnancy
- Exercises should always be attempted during the daytime as exercising during the evening or at night can obstruct sleep
- It is advisable to do something relaxing before going to sleep, like having warm drinks like milk with turmeric, honey or caffeine-free drinks, herbal tea or even reading a book, etc
- Taking a yoga class or learning relaxation techniques helps to unwind but always consult the doctor before trying the different poses of yoga
- Trying pranayama, deep breathing, which is specifically designed for pregnant mothers, also referred to as pregnancy yoga helps as well
Related Reading: 11 Benefits Of Walking During Pregnancy
Another best friend for the pregnant woman during pregnancy is a pillow since they offer support and warmth. Pillows can either be stacked for comfort or specially designed pillows for pregnancy can be bought as well. These pillows come in many shapes, colors, and ensure that sideways sleeping is comfortable. Some even come in the shape of wedges that offer support to the entire body, while the oval ones offer support to the growing belly.
5. Scheduled sleep helps to sleep well during pregnancy
It is always advisable to follow a set regime and routine during pregnancy. Doing this helps the brain for triggering a state of sleepiness at the sleeping time and makes the body tired as it is used to the same timetable. Getting into a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps as well. Following a set routine helps in doing things in a particular fashion and the brain picks up from the everyday schedule as well.
Investing the money in opting for comfortable sleepwear also works. Tight-fitting clothes, as well as synthetic ones, should not be opted for. One should look for loose cotton clothes that do not suffocate, allow good ventilation and help even with hot flashes8.
Related Reading: 9 Hacks To Dress During Pregnancy Without Maternity Clothes
7. Drinking right to get proper sleep during pregnancy
Since the uterus puts pressure on the bladder, one might not be able to hold it like always. Some pointers to be kept in mind for the same are9:
- Avoid drinking water after evening and drink early to avoid straining the bladder at night
- Be aware of few drinks to avoid during pregnancy & cut out any caffeinated drinks like sodas, tea, or coffee from the diet to a large extent
- Restrict taking sodas, tea, or coffee early in the morning as it can trigger morning sickness or early afternoon since it can obstruct sleep
- Avoid a full meal just a few hours before going to bed. It is better to have fluids and nutrients throughout the day and not in the late evening or night
- Sometimes hunger pangs also obstruct sleep, so it is advisable to have a few crackers before going to bed
- Getting enough calcium and magnesium in the diet helps to reduce leg cramps. It is also not advisable to take supplements without a go-ahead from the doctor
Apart from that there are a few more things that can be a cause of concern and they are:
- Fear and anxiety of the unknown can also be a cause of uneasiness and sleep obstruction. This can however be eased by joining childbirth or parenting classes. Having knowledge and the company of individuals going through similar problems helps to keep the fears off the bay and prevents awakening at night.
- Another common problem that helps with sleeping is a leg cramp. In case of leg cramps, follow our list of tried & tested home remedies for leg cramps during pregnancy like pressing the feet against a hard surface or standing on one leg . Experts suggest stretching the calf muscles can help in this concern as well.
How Long Can I Lay On My Stomach While Pregnant?
Sleeping on the stomach till 16-18 weeks is fine for a while but not for a very long duration.
Can lying on stomach hurt the baby?
No, the body signals if one cannot lie any longer on the stomach. It is advisable to be comfortable and safe since the size of the baby is that of a pea and in the initial weeks, not much harm is done to the baby.
Related Reading: 12 Signs Of Healthy Baby In Womb- Trimester Wise
Thus, it is just not important to sleep well during pregnancy, but it is equally important to see what position one is sleeping in. Following the pointers given above can help with a smooth pregnancy and even create a reservoir of beautiful memories attached to it. It is always recommended to have a doctor’s consultation before starting something new or experimenting with something as pregnancy is a precarious time for the entire family.
As per experts, pregnant women are warned not to sleep on their backs during second as well as third trimesters.
This is due to the increased weight of the belly which can make the breasts too heavy for the back to support.
The most common nine reasons for not being able to sleep during pregnancy are:
-Urge to pee
-Sleeping very late
-Do not sleep at night
-Back is hurting
In case habitual of sleeping on the stomach and wish to continue the same, it is advisable to try a donut-shaped pillow for giving support to the increased belly size. This offers comfortable sleep till the second trimester.