When Should I Stop Sleeping on My Stomach?

A good sleep is the new luxury in pregnancy. At the start of your pregnancy, you can sleep in any position. However, as your baby grows bigger, you start wondering which sleeping position is best for your unborn baby. If you habitually sleep on your stomach, can you still sleep in this position in pregnancy? What is the best time to stop?

When Should I Stop Sleeping on My Stomach During Pregnancy?

It’s okay to sleep on your stomach in the first trimester because your baby will be so tiny that it will be shielded behind your pubic bone. If you have tender breasts, this position might be uncomfortable although a soft pillow under them will help.

If you are still sleeping on your stomach towards the end of the first trimester, it is time to change. By the fourth month, your breasts may be stiff and sensitive, and your feet may be swollen. Your belly will be quite big as your baby continues to grow. Your uterus now is pushing against other internal organs and affecting the flow of blood. Sleeping on your stomach from the second trimester going forward can also cause stomach stiffness and breathing difficulties.

Can You Sleep on Your Back Then?

Not quite! Sleeping on your back after four months of pregnancy poses a number of risks for you and also your baby. 

For you, it increases pressure on your internal organs, aorta and vena cava, leading to the following:

  • Nausea
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Difficult breathing
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal pain
  • Damp, sticky skin

For your baby, poor blood circulation can lead to:

  • Reduced oxygen
  • Low blood flow
  • Reduced nutrients

What Is the Recommended Sleep Position in Pregnancy?

If the question "When should I stop sleeping on my stomach" is still bothering you, note that most experts recommend that during pregnancy, you should sleep on your side, and especially on your left side.

This sleeping position is the best for your body and your baby. It helps improve circulation, contributing to better oxygen and nutrient supply through the placenta to your baby. In addition, it helps your kidneys to remove waste from your body, which reduces any swelling on your feet, ankles or hands.

For more comfort while sleeping, use the following tips while sleeping on your side:

  • Use More Pillows

Use one or more pillows between your legs and against your backside. By trying a few combinations, you will see what works best for you.

  • Get a Custom Pillow

To get extra body support, use a special pillow which may be wedge-shaped or a full-body pillow.

  • Prop Yourself in a Reclining Position

If you find it uncomfortable using pillows, use a recliner in place of the bed. The recliner lets you sleep in a semi-seated position which you may find more comfortable.

Note that you may feel a bit uncomfortable for some time before you and your baby adjust to the new sleeping position.

What If I Wake Up Sleeping on My Back or Tummy During Pregnancy?

Having found the answer to the question "When should I stop sleeping on my stomach?" you are obviously determined to sleep on your side. But it is impossible to sleep in the same position for a whole night. In case you are roused from sleep and find that you are sleeping on your stomach or back, relax. Nothing is broken! Your pregnant body is so smart it probably wakes you up to correct your sleeping position. Just get into a more friendly position and get right back to sleep.

Tips for Better Sleep in Pregnancy

1.    Drink More Water and Other Fluids

Drink water and other healthy fluids during day time and reduce fluid intake as bedtime approaches. This will ensure that you are well hydrated while cutting down your nighttime bathroom visits.

2.    Keep Moving

Move a lot or exercise in other ways during the day to maintain good health, improve blood circulation and prevent leg cramps. Avoid physical exercise in the evening to reduce the risk of increased adrenaline which can interfere with your sleep.

3.    Reduce Anxiety and Stress

You can’t sleep well if you are anxious or stressed. So, decide to relax by keeping off stress and anxiety-causing thoughts and activities. If you find it difficult to stop worrying, talk to a friend or seek professional counseling services. The following activities can help you relax and sleep better:

  • Taking a warm bath just before going to bed.
  • Listening to soothing music while in bed.
  • Get a gentle massage. Your partner can give you a soothing massage that doesn’t target any particular points of your body.

4.    Watch What You Eat

Your diet can affect your sleep. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and keep away from alcohol and caffeine. If you suffer from nausea, eat healthy snacks every few hours to keep your tummy full and thus reduce instances of nausea.

Heartburn can disturb your sleep. To keep heartburn at bay, avoid foods and habits that may cause heartburn, including eating spicy foods, fried foods, acidic foods, too much tomato products and sitting in a reclining position after eating.

5.    Get Help

While you might no longer be wondering "When should I stop sleeping on my stomach?" you may still be having sleep disturbances. In such a case, consult your doctor for assistance. And keep in mind the fact that you need to be well rested now that two lives depend on you.

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