Stomach Sleeping During Pregnancy – Is it Safe For You and Your Baby?

Pregnant women who are natural tummy sleepers may wonder if stomach sleeping during pregnancy is safe for their baby. Sleep is very important for the pregnant woman and later on in pregnancy, any sleep is better than none. If you follow the rules, however, the left lateral position is the one recommended over stomach or back sleeping positions.

Controversy

Despite the left lateral position being well acknowledged amongst the medical profession as being best for both Baby and for Mom, the controversy that surrounds this issue is amazing if you read some of the many forum posts. Despite medical advice to the contrary, the number of women who seem to take exception to being told how to sleep is intriguing. To put this into perspective, Dr Kathy Ekiti has been quoted as saying:

“….sleep anyway that makes you comfortable. You always have to remember that your baby is in a sac of water. It acts as a shock absorber, so don’t worry, friend”.

She goes on to say that, if you feel uncomfortable you will quickly re-adjust yourself. Nevertheless, the controversy rages!

Physiological Explanation

For those advocates of stomach sleeping during pregnancy, Dr Kathy Ekiti’s comments will make you feel a bit better. The reason why the medical profession advocate sleeping on your left hand side has to do with sound physiological principles – the way your body works! As your pregnancy develops certain changes occur in your body. This is necessary so that your body is fully prepared for the birth. However, if you sleep on your back during pregnancy you risk Vena Cava Syndrome developing.

This results in very low blood pressure that can cause dizzy spells due to the major artery (called the aorta) and the major vein (called the vena cava) being compressed, by the growing weight of the uterus, against the spine. Sleeping on your side improves the flow of blood and nutrients to the placenta and encourages your kidneys to eliminate waste products more effectively. This also encourages more fluids from your tissues to be reabsorbed, avoiding unsightly and uncomfortable swollen limbs, hands and feet.

Sleeping on your stomach during pregnancy, while not advocated by the medical profession, will not do any actual harm to either you or your baby. Sleeping this way will probably not be particularly comfortable but few pregnant women maintain the same position through the whole night, so stomach sleeping during pregnancy, interspersed with sleeping on your left side is not going to harm either you or your baby.