Sep 27, 2011  •  In Aerin, Claire, Personal, Pregnancy

On Sleeping Positions [Pregnant Edition]

Most pregnant women — as well as BTDT (been there, done that) mothers — are well-aware that the recommended sleep position during pregnancy is “SOS” (sleep on side). The left side, in particular, is favored by doctors because it helps increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and the baby.

Sleeping on your back should be avoided due to the extra weight that will be put on your intestines and major blood vessels. And sleeping on your stomach is not recommended either, for obvious reasons.

Well, it’s confession time again. During my pregnancy with Claire, I hardly ever slept on my side. I continued to sleep on my back and stomach, and only stopped sleeping on my stomach during my third trimester, when I started to solely sleep on my back.

It’s not that I didn’t try sleeping on my side — believe me, I did — but I just could NOT get comfortable, especially with my hip pains. I tried pillows between my legs as well as pillows behind my back, but no position beat out my lying flat on my back.


Seeing as regular pillows only contributed to my discomfort, I knew that I would
only be wasting money on expensive maternity pillows like this. (image source)

Additionally, when Claire became large and strong enough for me to feel her move, she would kick like crazy whenever I would lay on my left side. She seemed to like the right side better, but only slightly.

When I discussed my sleeping position with my OB, he told me not to worry about it too much. “Believe me, you will start to get uncomfortable before any harm is done!”

With this in mind, I continued to sleep flat on my back, because this was the position that I was the most comfortable in, and this was the position that Claire seemed to favor the most.

And you know what? My suspicions were confirmed when I was labor, and Claire’s heart rate was continuously being monitored. Because whenever I lay on my side, her heart rate would increase…and it would actually shoot through the roof whenever I flipped on over to the left side! Apparently, she was positioned so that my laying on the left caused her much discomfort in the womb.

So I guess the lesson here is that you should always trust your body, and trust what the baby inside is trying to tell you. And that you don’t always need to follow every little advice to the teeth.

As for this current pregnancy with BebeDeux, she doesn’t seem to like my sleeping on the left side either! She seems to prefer my lying on my back, or on my right side. (And I’m willing to bet that this can be confirmed if we were to monitor her heart rate.)

P.S. — I’m guest blogging over at Married Up with Wine today! Please go say hi, and be sure to check out the rest of Mandy’s awesome blog!

7 Responses to “On Sleeping Positions [Pregnant Edition]”

  1. I find that laying on my right side is most comfortable. I don’t think my little girl likes the left side all that much either. As for pillows- I am addicted to my body pillow.

  2. wen:

    It’s not just voodoo science that the OBs recommend to sleep on your left side if possible. When you sleep on your back, you are compressing your inferior vena cava, the main vein returning blood BACK to your heart. Therefore, a compressed IVC–>less blood returning–>less oxygenation in your system–>less oxygenated blood and blood flow going to the baby. With less blood flow to the placenta/fetus, the heart rate of the fetus can definitely decrease as well, which is why you may have noticed the decrease HR on the monitor (with another reason is that it could be b/c your baby is used to you being in a certain position…with mommy more comfortable and relaxed, the baby relaxes and the HR drops as well).

    99.99% of the time, it really doesn’t matter. But if the baby is already compromised it could. An interesting article that was recently published about sleeping positions in pregnant women:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/jun/14/pregnant-women-sleep-left-stillbirth
    The original scientific article is here:
    http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d3403.full

    • I didn’t mean to imply that it’s voodoo science; sorry if you got that from what I wrote. I just meant that in my specific case, sleeping on the left side wasn’t the best choice for me or the baby.

  3. I completely agree with you. Your body isn’t going to let you do any damage to your baby in your sleep…period. You’ll feel discomfort or the baby will let you know she’s uncomfortable. Do what feels right!

  4. Everly preferred my right side and Beckett does, too. :)

  5. good to know that not all advice applies to everyone, and good for you for trusting your instincts and your body!

  6. Thanks for the post, I’m 25 weeks and I don’t feel so guilty sleeping on my back now! haha. with my last pregnancy, i know I slept on my back until mid-2nd trimester I think, but I was also able to tolerate sleeping my side more. But now with the sciatica, it seems really challenging. Good luck with your last few weeks.

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