When you are pregnant, you often find yourself not being able to sleep in the usual sleep positions that you are accustomed to. For instance, it can become very difficult to sleep on your stomach. Though it isn’t impossible to sleep on your back as it is on your stomach, the question as to whether it is considered good for you and the baby is a whole different thing.
We will look to answer your questions surrounding sleeping on your back during pregnancy and educate you as to whether sleeping on your back is considered a good thing or something that you should look to avoid.
Should I Sleep On My Back During Pregnancy?
Many experts recommend that you avoid sleeping on your back during the second and third trimesters, considering that your belly will be rather large during these stages of pregnancy.
There are reasons as to why you shouldn’t sleep on your back. Sleeping on your back rests the entire weight of the baby and the growing uterus on your back, your intestines and your vena cava. Your vena cava is the main vein that carries blood back to your heart. Hence, excess weight on this vein prevents the smooth flow of blood, therefore oxygen in your body.
Not just that, but the extra weight places more pressure on your back, which could lead to long term back pain. After 20 weeks of pregnancy, you should avoid sleeping on your back for the entire night.
Can I Lay on Back for a Short Period of Time?
For an average, healthy pregnant woman, it is considered normal to rest on your back for a short period occasionally. The trouble arises when you find yourself in that position for a long period of time.
A short period of laying on your back won’t really impact your pregnancy, nor will it lead to back pain. However, you should try to keep it to no longer than 5 to 10 minutes at a time. In fact, when it is time to get up, your body will start to exhibit signs such as nausea and dizziness.
Some gentle stretches on your back to help alleviate any aches and pain is perfectly fine. This often requires you to be on your back for a short period of time and won’t really hamper your wellbeing.
Is There Any Harm to the Baby from Sleeping on Back?
Sleeping on your back disrupts the flow of blood in the vena cava, which is a major vein that carries blood back to the heart. The weight of the uterus and the baby places extra pressure on this vein, hampering blood flow. This could lead to a lack of good circulation which could lead to a decreased heart rate in your baby.
This is the primary reason why it isn’t recommended that you sleep on your back during pregnancy. During pregnancy, you should work to hold positions that will enable good blood flow and circulation. The better blood flow and circulation you have, the healthier your chances.
Laying flat on your back can work to compressed blood vessels underneath which could all hamper blood flow and circulation. This is why it isn’t recommended that you lay flat on your back during labour either.
At the end of the day, you are caring for your unborn baby and you should work to nurture the baby and provide them with everything they need. Sleeping on your back often means that you will be providing them with less than perfect blood flow which will hamper your baby’s growth and development.
In order to prevent decreased circulation and blood flow, it is best recommended that you avoid sleeping on your back and only rest on your back for short periods of 5 to 10 minutes.
What Symptoms May I Experience If I Sleep on my Back?
Further to the fact that you will probably experience back pain, you will also experience a host of symptoms that are involved with bad circulation.
When you sleep on your back, your vena cava, which is the main vein that carries blood back to the heart is hampered by the weight. This leads to bad circulation which brings with it symptoms such as nausea and dizziness.
If you start experiencing nausea or dizziness during your night sleep, this may be due to the fact that you have been sleeping on your back. These symptoms are a good wake up call for you when you are pregnant. If you experience either of these symptoms during sleep, you should work to change your sleep position, for it is more likely that you may have been accidentally slept on your back.
What Happens if I Accidentally Sleep on my Back During Pregnancy?
If you find yourself to have accidentally slept on your back, you should make a change immediately and change your sleep position as soon as possible. Though there is no real dangers of a one time happening, if the position of sleep is held for the long term on repeated accounts, it could lead to reduced blood flow to the fetus.
Sleeping on your back reduces the blood flow in your body, which means there will be less blood flowing into your uterus. The reduced blood flow to the fetus can even lead to death if sufficiently severe and prolonged.
Though a one-off accidental holding of a bad sleep position will not work to hamper your child’s wellbeing, not correcting the problem could place your child’s health at serious risk.
There is a greater chance of stillbirth if you prolong sleeping on your back, which is why it isn’t recommended as a healthy sleep position for you when pregnant.
If you have noticed that you have been sleeping on your back, further to changing your sleep position, it is best you consult your doctor to assess any damage.
Why You Shouldn’t Sleep on Your Back During Pregnancy
There are a host of reasons why you shouldn’t sleep on your back when you are pregnant. Firstly, it blocks the vena cava, which is a major vein that carries blood back to your heart. This hampers blood circulation and leads to ineffective oxygen delivery to your growing fetus.
Lack of blood flow to the fetus can lead to a lack of oxygen which can lead to improper development of your unborn child and can even lead to stillbirth or death in more serious cases. This is the primary and most fundamental reason why you shouldn’t sleep on your back.
Secondly, the extra weight on your back will lead you to develop long term back pain. This back pain may also result in aches and back issues long after the birth of your child. You could really do some permanent damage to your back by sleeping in the wrong position during pregnancy, hence you should be very mindful of this.
Thirdly, sleeping on your back also prevents good circulation in you the mother. This will result in dizziness and nausea which are symptoms of bad circulation. It is important for the health of both the mother and child that good circulation is ensured, which is why it is best to sleep in a position that promotes good blood circulation.
These are the primary reasons why you shouldn’t sleep on your back. Goes without saying that the severity of sleeping on your back is high and it brings with it a host of risks for both you and the baby, which is why it is recommended against by almost all health practitioners.
Best Sleeping Position During Pregnancy
When considering the best sleeping position during pregnancy, there is actually only one. You should consider sleeping on your side and not just on any side but your left side. Sleeping on the right side is similar to sleeping on your back. Though not as serious as sleeping on your back, sleeping on your right side can also lead to poor circulation.
The best circulation is experienced when you rest on your left side. When holding this position, none of your major veins are blocked by the weight which results in optimum blood flow in you the mother and to your baby in your uterus.
Along with sleeping on your back, you should also look to avoid sleeping on your stomach for similar reasons. Though some doctors and experts say that sleeping on either the right or the left side is considered safe and good for circulation, to be on the safer side, you should sleep on your left side, which is considered the better of the two sides.
Pregnancy is a beautiful time in your life, however, it comes with many changes to your lifestyle. You will no longer be able to sleep in positions that you are accustomed to and we hope after reading this word to word, you understand why you shouldn’t be sleeping on your back.
Sleeping on your back can bring about a host of issues and it is best to avoid this sleeping position for the health and wellbeing of both you the mother and your child in your womb.
We aimed to answer your question and provide you with the information that you need to understand why you shouldn’t be sleeping on your side. We hope after reading this, you have a good idea with regards to what position is recommended for sleep during pregnancy and carry it forward for a safe and happy pregnancy.
Additional Helpful Resources:
Is It Normal To Sleep A Lot During Pregnancy? Sleep and Risks of Stillbirth
Is It Safe to Lay on Stomach During Pregnancy? (Answered)
Dangers of Vitamin A Supplements During Pregnancy (Proof)
What Not to Eat During Pregnancy: Food to Avoid During Pregnancy