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Short answer: when it comes to sleeping during pregnancy, after the first trimester, you should start sleeping on your left side as much as you can. If you need to switch positions, turn to your right side.
Long answer: there are nuances to all of it, and I’ll try to explain them as concisely as possible, one by one.
Sleeping During Pregnancy: Commonly Asked Questions
The first question I often see is…
Can You Lay on Your Stomach While Pregnant?
During the first three months, the answer is probably “yes”. The baby is so small during this period that there’s no risk of you hurting them by sleeping on your stomach. But if your bump appears while you’re still in the first trimester, I would advise you to stop sleeping on your stomach.
Personally, I stopped sleeping on my stomach as soon as I got pregnant. For one, my pregnancy anxiety is off the charts sometimes. But I did have a valid reason as well. If you’re a stomach sleeper (like I used to be), the sooner you get used to not sleeping that way, the lower the chance you will wake up in the middle of the night to find yourself on your stomach.
Can You Lay on Your Back While Pregnant?
For the first few months, lying on your back while pregnant isn’t an issue. During that time, your uterus isn’t large enough to press on one of the large veins on your back that carry the blood to your heart. It’s hard to say at which month or week this becomes an issue, since every pregnancy is individual. But if you’re lying/sleeping on your back while pregnant and notice lightheadedness/dizziness, it’s a sure sign you should stop.
What’s more, pressing on this vein may also lead to less blood coming to the placenta, and we don’t want that. Again, to be sure, I stopped sleeping on my back immediately. I found it better not to worry about it later on.
Which Side to Sleep On?
Now, some OB/GYNs will tell you the side doesn’t matter, while others will be in favor of your left side. The reason is the same as before. Vena cava runs slightly more on the right side of your body, so it’s less likely you’ll press on it if you sleep on your left side.
However, sleeping in the same position for 8 hours can be excruciating, especially if you suffer from pregnancy-related sciatica. I always start sleeping on my left side, but once the leg pain wakes me up, I switch, and spend most of the night switching between my left and right side. I do, however, try to sleep on my left side more. All that back and forth does end up in occasional insomnia, though – here’s some advice on how to fight it.
All in all, your third trimester pregnancy sleeping positions will be pretty tricky due to a multitude of issues, with side sleeping being your only option. Or, if you can sleep propped up – lay on your back but put a pillow beneath you so you’re at a 45-degree angle or so.
How to Sleep in Pregnancy: Bottom Line
If you’re wondering how to sleep during pregnancy in the first trimester, as long as you’re without a bump, you should be fine either way. Once that bump starts showing, sleep on your left side as much as you can, and not your stomach. As your bump gets bigger, stop sleeping on your back altogether. The left side is preferred when sleeping during pregnancy, but if you need to turn in the middle of the night, your right side is the second-best option.
Bonus advice: get a pregnancy pillow before you’re too far along. Trust me, it’s a savior.
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