When you are expecting, you are expected to make some lifestyle changes. You may find new changes to be challenging or even odd to adopt, but they are recommended for a reason. You may have heard people telling you to sleep on your left during pregnancy or your doctor may have advised you to do so. This is so that, the flow of blood and oxygen to the fetus is not interrupted.
The suggestion may sound strange to you, that people even have to tell you how to sleep, but when you find out why, you may get alarmed and keep worrying that you have been doing it the wrong way all this time. You do not have to panic about not knowing and you can make the switch now and it will be fine. Find out why sleeping can be difficult in pregnancy here.
You may have been a belly sleeper prior to getting pregnant, but have taught yourself to sleep on your sides or back. It just needs some getting used to. Sleeping on your belly is said to be fine in the initial few weeks of pregnancy, but you will eventually switch position. You may have found it awkward and uncomfortable, to sleep that way with the growing belly or may have found it is not good for your health anyway. The same way you can try and sleep more onto your left side, as your pregnancy progresses.
Why left side is recommended?
When your belly keeps growing, there will be some amount of pressure on internal organs. If you are expecting, you may already know how you have to use the toilet a lot, because of the compression of uterus on urinary bladder. Sleeping on your left does not add pressure on IVC (Inferior Vena Cava). This a large vein on your right that carries blood to the heart. If this vein gets compressed, it may result in less blood supply and less oxygenated blood to the mother and fetus. There is not much research on this matter, but doctors recommend being on the safe side, instead of risking. This position also helps in reducing the pressure from kidneys and liver. When these organs function without any interference, you may not face swelling of hands and feet.
Risks of sleeping on right side
Healthy expectant women may not have any problem with a slight reduction in the blood flow, but IVC compression can be a threat to those with blood pressure issue or breathing problems. A pregnant woman with asthma, who already has trouble getting optimal oxygen supply, may have severe complications, if the pressure on IVC leads to further reduction in blood flow. Some studies indicate that sleeping on your back, in the advanced stages of pregnancy carries a risk of still birth. This may not always be true, but doctors recommend all pregnant women to start sleeping on their left after first trimester to avoid the risk.
On the other side, doctors also suggest that, if you find it uncomfortable to sleep on your left throughout the night, you can roll over and sleep on your back or right side for sometime. Make yourself comfortable by getting a pregnancy pillow or placing a pillow between your legs, as you lay on your left side. Find what works best for you, because comfort and sleep are also equally important for pregnant women.