Q&A: Why should I sleep on my side when pregnant?

Getting comfy in bed with a baby bump can be tricky, but did you know that certain sleep positions during pregnancy are unsafe for bub?

Here’s why we should sleep on our side when pregnant.

I’m 31 weeks pregnant, have a bulged disc and sleeping on my back is the only position I’m comfortable enough to actually get any sleep. I’m reading mixed articles and I’m unsure whether it’s safe to sleep on my back or not.

Donna, Mum's Grapevine pregnancy group member

Why it’s recommended to sleep on your side

While the jury is out on whether the left or right side is better to sleep on, experts do agree that sleeping on your side is better than sleeping on your back during pregnancy.

The latest research says the risk of stillbirth doubles if we sleep on our backs in the last three months of pregnancy. The experts don’t know why exactly, but the theory is that the weight of the baby and uterus puts pressure on the main blood vessels that supply the uterus. This might restrict blood flow to the baby. Another theory is disturbed breathing during sleep, which is worse in women who are overweight and sleeping on their backs.

When to start sleeping on your side

Sorry ladies, but the larger that bump gets, the less sleep position freedom we have. It’s recommended we start sleeping on our side from the start of the third trimester – that’s from week 27.

What happens if you wake up on your back

It’s bound to happen – try not stress about it too much. If you do wake up and you’re on your back, just roll over to your side. If you’re finding it’s happening quite often, maybe pop a pillow behind your back so that it’s a little harder to just roll onto your back in your sleep.

How to get comfortable

Here’s the million dollar question – and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. There’s probably going to be some trial and error involved before you find the best position for you.

Getting a maternity pillow is a great start – experiment with positions that work for you. Try it between your knees, or under your belly. Or try elevating your head a little more than usual (bonus: this may also help reduce heartburn at night).

If you’re having trouble with sleeping, check out our expert tips for beating pregnancy insomnia.

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