Monday, August 26, 2019

Why Sleeping Sideways Is Good For Mothers

In nine months of carrying a baby, expectant mothers experience a wide range of emotions that can make it hard to rest and relax - from excitement and fear to stress and exhaustion. The last thing they need is to be tossing and turning all night because they can’t get comfortable, but that’s a common complaint. For new moms-to-be, sleeping sideways can be the best way to attain deep, renewing rest. If they aren’t already accustomed to a sideways sleeping position, expecting a baby is a perfect time to get into this habit.

Experts suggest sideways sleeping as the recommended position for expectant mothers. Luckily, it’s a position that nearly 75% of the world already sleeps in and it’s the most natural way to rest. But sideways sleeping has some incredible health benefits for baby and mom.

Of course, sleeping any way you can get comfortable is important when you're pregnant. If sideways sleeping works for you or you can adjust your bed and pillows to make it work, here are some great benefits your health and your baby’s development.

What Sleeping on Your Side Does for You When You’re Expecting

Typically, the way you once comfortably slept no longer works when you’re further along in your pregnancy. There are so many body changes you have to adjust for, including the increasing size of your belly, the onset of back pain, and the pressure on your organs as your baby grows - your sleep position will likely be one of the changes you make while expecting.

Sleeping on your side, specifically on the left, can help you with many common pregnancy symptoms, such as:

  • Heartburn. When you are lying flat on your front or your back, your esophagus and stomach are at the same level, allowing acids to flow back and forth easily. To avoid heartburn, keep your head and shoulders elevated in a natural curve. It won’t always relieve all of the symptoms since there are many other factors at play, but it should greatly reduce them.
  • Back pain.  Almost every expecting woman will experience back pain at some point during her pregnancy. There are many reasons for this. You are gaining weight necessary for a healthy pregnancy, typically somewhere between 25 and 35 pounds, which adds pressure that your spine hasn’t had time to adjust to. This new strain on your back and pelvis nerves contributes to new aches and pains.
This same weight gain, and the back pain that accompanies it, can cause you to unconsciously shift your posture. It’s a cycle that causes more back pain.

Another reason for back pain among expectant mothers is the production of relaxin, a hormone that prepares your ligaments and joints for childbirth. It’s necessary, but as the ligaments loosen, you may experience backaches.

With the multitude of reasons for a pregnant woman's back pain, there has been much research on the subject of alleviating it. Sleeping on your side with a supportive mattress is one of the best ways to help reduce the strain of the extra weight and the bodily changes that occur during pregnancy.
  • Poor circulation. Somewhere around month five of pregnancy, you’ll start noticing symptoms of poor circulation, although this can happen at any time. Swelling, shortness of breath, and other signs are hinting that your circulatory system is undergoing extra stress.
Swelling can be caused by your diet, especially if you drink caffeine, have significant sodium in your meals, or if you are physically inactive and spend too much time in the heat. Shortness of breath is natural when the baby starts growing and adds pressure to your lungs.

If you’re noticing poor circulation in your body, sleeping on your side may help. Sleeping on the left-hand side improves blood flow to the heart, letting it freely circulate throughout your body. If shortness of breath is a problem, sleep on your left side in a natural fetal position, hunching your torso and bending your knees. This position avoids adding the pressure of your uterus to your liver and lungs. Placing a pillow between your knees can help make this a little more comfortable on your back and hips.

Your baby will benefit from sleeping sideways on the left, too. Since your circulation is improved because of your position, so is the baby’s. Your little one will get more nutrients through the placenta, improving development and health.

Get Comfortable, Mama

Your comfort is important. When you are stressed, your baby is feeling it. Stress can cause back pain, insomnia, and swelling, and make a long nine and a half months feel a lot longer. But what was once comfortable before your pregnancy may not be anymore.

Learning how to sleep on your side, particularly your left side, is going to help you and your baby get that much-needed rest to prepare you for being a new mom.

This is a guest blog entry.

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