Pregnancy sleep positions: What is the safest way to sleep?
Sleep positions in pregnancy in the third trimester, what you need to know
Once you reach your third trimester of pregnancy your bump will be growing by the day and simple things like getting comfortable sitting and lying down to sleep gets more challenging.
Advice says that when lying down to sleep, whether at night or for a nap, you should find a comfortable position to sleep on your side as this is the safest for your baby.
Here we answer some of your most asked questions about sleeping in pregnancy.
Is it OK to sleep on my back during pregnancy?
No. Not once you enter the third trimester (28 weeks of pregnancy). The advice is to sleep on your side. Research has shown that sleeping on your back in late stages of pregnancy can increase your risk of stillbirth. So it’s strongly advised to go to sleep on your side in the third trimester whether you are going to sleep at night, going back to sleep after getting up in the night or even a daytime nap.
What if I wake up in the night lying on my back?
There’s no need to panic if you wake up on your back in the night. The research evidence is based on the position you go to sleep in. If you wake up on your back, just resettle on your side.
You can’t control the way you turn in your sleep but rest assured a large bump is likely to prevent you from sleeping on your back for long. The position you fall asleep in is the position you spend the longest time in during the night.
It’s also important to note that in uncomplicated pregnancies your risk of stillbirth is low and going to sleep on your side will make this even lower.
Why does sleeping on my back in the third trimester increase my risk of stillbirth?
When you sleep on your back the combined weight of baby and womb puts pressure on other organs in your body.
The baby and womb put pressure on the main blood vessels that supply the uterus and this can restrict blood flow/oxygen to the baby.
When you lie on your back, research has also identified that your baby is less active and their heart-rate patterns become more erratic. This is thought to be a result of lower oxygen levels for baby as the mother lies on her back.
Is there a better side to sleep on in pregnancy?
Sleeping on your left has been shown to help your kidneys to get rid of waste products and fluids from your body. However, sleeping on your left side has not conclusively been shown to reduce risk versus sleeping on your right.
Is it dangerous to sleep on my front in pregnancy?
It’s fine to sleep on your front in early pregnancy but from your second trimester onwards as your bump grows it is unlikely you will find it comfortable to sleep on your front. Should you wake in the night on your front, simply turn to find a comfortable position on your side.
How does obesity affect the risk of stillbirth?
Obesity can increase the risk of stillbirth as figures show that one in every 225 births ends in a stillbirth in the UK and in women with a BMI over 30, the risk rises to one in 100.