Motherhood reinvents a woman. It opens up a whole new chapter of her life where her world is no longer hers alone. This life journey is not without hardships and challenges. American actress and mother Ricki Lake sums up motherhood perfectly: “Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing.”
The struggles start during pregnancy. Johns Hopkins Medicine warns that the first trimester of pregnancy is critical to the health of the mother and her unborn child. It is important that both receive adequate nutrition and rest. As the pregnancy progresses, so do a mother’s sleeping problems.
Most pregnant moms experience fragmented sleep and insomnia. Many struggle falling asleep, staying asleep and getting enough rest. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center suggest correlation between a mother’s quality of sleep and complications at birth. There are also alarming evidence that point to the impact of sleep and depression to the mother and her unborn child’s immune health.
Sleeping problems among pregnant women are primarily attributed to the larger abdomen, back pain, heartburn, shortness of breath and insomnia. All these factors add up to the fact that there are certain sleeping positions that should be avoided at least during the latter part of the pregnancy.
Here are facts you should know to help pregnant women sleep better.
Different sleeping positions to avoid
To know what sleeping positions work for pregnant moms, you should understand the basic changes in your body during this crucial period. Back sleeping causes the weight of your uterus to press on your spine and major blood vessels, resulting to back pains and decreased blood flow. Mothers who lie flat on their back complain of muscle aches, hemorrhoids and swelling. They also suffer from dizziness due to a drop in blood pressure and sleep apnea.
Dr. Vera Stucky from the University of California – San Diego Medical Center says, “If you sleep on your back, the enlarged uterus presses against the inferior vena cava, the vein that returns blood from the lower body to the heart.”
If you were used to sleeping on your stomach, this sleeping position is virtually impossible during your pregnancy. This will press down your stomach on your expanding uterus. Additionally, your ballooning breasts are extra sensitive during this period.
Pregnant sleeping position: the SOS
SOS or “sleep on side” is recommended by doctors to help expectant mothers get better rest at night. This position keeps the unborn child’s weight from applying pressure to the the mom’s inferior vena cava that carries blood back to the heart from the lower part of the body.
For a comfortable SOS position, lay on one side and put a pillow between your bent legs. You can also place a pillow under your abdomen to ease any back discomfort. This can help prevent you from rolling to your stomach or back.
Rotating positions throughout the night is fine. Don’t panic if you find yourself on your back in the middle of the night. Just return to your side and go back to sleep.
Pregnant sleeping position: the left side
There is no scientific evidence that explicitly tells the better side to sleep on. However, caregivers recommend the left side as the safest for your baby.
This sleeping position will increase the amount of blood and nutrients in the placenta, allowing blood flow to the fetus, uterus, and kidneys. Sleeping on your left side also keeps your weight from pushing down too hard on your liver.
Pregnant sleeping position: the half-sitting position
Adequate rest is vital for expectant mothers. Finding a comfortable sleeping position is one of the effective ways for pregnant women to get better sleep. You may lie on your back in a half-sitting position with soft pillows against your back. Resting in this position on a soft bed can be helpful in keeping stomach acids down and prevent heartburn.
Create a conducive sleeping environment
Sleeping during pregnancy can be tough given the many discomforts you feel inside your body. Apart from finding a safe and comfortable sleeping position, it is important to turn your bedroom into an optimal resting environment.
Get a new bed, mattress and a set of pillows, if necessary. A firmer mattress, especially a memory foam mattress, can help ease aches on your torso and limbs. Invest in good pillows as these can offer good bed support. If you experience shortness of breath, put a pillow under your side to raise your upper body. It is also advisable to place a pillow at the small of your back when on a half-sitting position to relieve some pressure. A full-body pillow behind your back when you’re on a side-sleeping position can reduce back pains.
One of the sleeping position benefits for pregnant moms is better rest. An early research found that mothers who slept fewer than six hours per night had longer labors. They were also 4.5 times more likely to have a Cesarean delivery. Make sure you get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. By the time your baby arrives, you’d have to prepare for sleepless nights, fatigues and stress. Oh, the wonders of parenthood!
Guest Blog by Emily Harper
Emily Harper is an Environment/Sustainability/
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