If you are used to sleeping on the stomach, you might not feel comfortable in that position during pregnancy. Also, as the tummy grows, it could become difficult to sleep as it hurts. In this post, we tell you if you can sleep on the stomach during pregnancy, and give some tips to help you sleep better.
Can You Sleep On Your Stomach When Pregnant?
Sleeping on your stomach may not be a good option during pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses, the uterus becomes heavier, making it uncomfortable for you to sleep in that position.
- If you are a stomach-sleeper, you may continue to sleep so in the first trimester (1).
- During the second trimester, you may start experiencing heartburn, which occurs when the stomach contents reflux or flow back to the esophagus. Sleeping on the stomach may also slow down the digestion process, keeping the food in the stomach for a longer time, which could aggravate heartburn and constipation (2) (3).
- During the third trimester, your pregnancy bump makes it uncomfortable to sleep on the stomach (4).
When Should You Stop Sleeping On Stomach During Pregnancy?
You should stop sleeping on the stomach whenever you feel uncomfortable. You may be able to sleep until the 16th to 18th week of pregnancy. Sleeping on your stomach after this period becomes uncomfortable (4).
Sleeping on the back may also be uncomfortable as the weight of the growing fetus presses on the inferior vena cava (the large vein that carries deoxygenated blood from the lower body to the heart). This may slow down the return of blood to the heart and limit blood flow to the fetus (1). Sleeping on your back arises backaches, difficult breathing, make digestion less efficient, interferes with circulation, and possibly causes hypotension, reduce blood to the uterus giving to the baby less oxygen and nutrients.
Pregnancy Pillow While Sleeping On The Stomach
If you are a stomach-sleeper and prefer to continue sleeping in the same position in the first trimester, you may place a pregnancy pillow (a donut-shaped or wedge-shaped pillow) under your tummy for support (4).
Disadvantages Of Sleeping On The Stomach
The extra weight in the middle of the body may increase the pull on the spine, thus causing back pain. It may add extra pressure on the breasts that are usually sore and tender during this time.
Ideal Sleeping Position During Pregnancy
You may consider sleeping on your side, preferably on your left side during pregnancy. The best way to sleep through the night, this position improves the blood flow and nutrients from you to the growing fetus and does not put pressure on your liver. It may also improve the functioning of the kidney by helping eliminate waste and fluid from the your body, which in turn reduces swelling in the ankles, feet, and hands. Placing a pillow between your knees could make it more comfortable for you to sleep on the side (1).
Tips To Sleep Better During Pregnancy
You may follow these tips to get better sleep.
- Drink more water (or fluids) during the day, and less before sleep time to avoid frequent urination.
- Relaxation techniques such as yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation could relieve your stress and mitigate any sleep disturbances.
- Use full-body pregnancy pillows and supportive cushions for extra support. They could make you feel comfortable and improve sleep.
- Do not eat spicy or fried foods as it could lead to heartburn and disrupt your sleep.
- To prevent nausea, you may have some snacks such as crackers or pretzels. This could also curb your midnight hunger.
- Listen to some relaxing and soothing music before bedtime. It could de-stress you and help sleep better.
- Take a warm shower a few minutes before bedtime. It calms the tensed nerves and improves sleep.
- Ask your partner to give you a massage.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can lying on your stomach cause miscarriage?
Lying on your stomach is not known to cause miscarriage. There are no studies that connect the two.
2. Can you hurt the baby by lying on the stomach?
Lying on the stomach is not likely to hurt the baby since the uterine walls could provide enough protection for the baby. It is just that you may feel uncomfortable sleeping in this position (5).
As your pregnancy advances, your body tells you what is comfortable and what is not. The best thing you can do is to listen to your body and stop things that make you feel uncomfortable. Place yourself in a physically and mentally comfortable position so that you can have a good night’s sleep and healthy pregnancy.
2. Pregnancy and Heartburn; University of Rochester Medical Center
3. Sleeping During Pregnancy; Brenner Children’s – Wake Forest Baptist Health
4. Should pregnant women avoid sleeping on their backs; The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
5. The Best Position for Sleep During Pregnancy; Sleep.org
- 3 Important Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy – First Trimester
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- 7 Important Sleeping Positions During The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy
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