The scoop about sleeping on your back

May 07, 2012 12:00 AM by

It's no secret that catching some sleep during a pregnancy can be a lot harder than it normally is. With heartburn, leg cramps, insomnia, back pain and constant trips to the bathroom, getting a good night's rest might seem like a nightmare for some women. Staying comfortable is also a frequent problem, as you'll find that many of your usual nighttime positions are no longer possible – including sleeping on your belly and, after the first trimester, snoozing on your back.

You know sleeping on your stomach is more or less impossible once you've started to show, and turning onto your back might seem like a much better idea. However, doctors recommend steering clear of this position once your baby bump gets bigger.

That's because the added weight of your uterus can press on the vena cava, the vein that returns blood from your legs to your heart. This can not only result in digestive problems, hemorrhoids and shortness of breath for you, but it can decrease circulation to your heart and your baby. It's even more unsafe if you have a condition like high blood pressure, which already affects the oxygen and nutrients your little one receives in utero.

Sleeping on your side is the best option, and many doctors believe that your left side in particular is best for increasing blood flow to your baby and the placenta. You might find that making use of plenty of pillows can make this position more comfortable. Try placing a thin pillow in between your legs, one supporting your back and another underneath your belly for extra support.

One note – don't be alarmed if you ever wake up on your back. Most experts agree that your body won't allow you to sleep in a position that can cause harm to your little one. In other words, if it feels comfortable while you're sleeping, it's probably okay!

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