Frequently Asked Questions about Laying, Sleeping & Bathing While Pregnant answered by Los Angeles Obstetrician Dr. Thais Aliabadi
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Q: What is the best sleeping position to accommodate a pregnant belly?
After 20 weeks, your belly will start to expand, which will make sleeping on your stomach difficult and even impossible. You should also avoid sleeping on your back, as it constrict your breathing and hinder circulation to your lower half.
The best sleeping position during pregnancy is on your side. Although either side is fine, experts believe that sleeping on your left side is best for blood circulation. Lying on the left side also takes the pressure of your belly weight off of your liver.
Q: What can I do to make side-sleeping more comfortable during my pregnancy?
If you are normally a back or stomach sleeper, making the transition to sleeping on your side can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep on your side.
- Use a body pillow. A body pillow, or pregnancy pillow, is a long pillow that you place under your belly and between your legs. This provides support for your tummy and your lower back. You can also place another body pillow along your backside to keep you from rolling onto your back.
- Angle your bed. If you’re experiencing heartburn, propping the head of your bed up a few inches will help acids stay in your stomach.
- Raise your chest. If you’re having trouble breathing, place a small pillow under your torso to lift pressure off your respiratory organs.
Q: I tried to sleep on my side, but I woke up on my back or stomach anyway. Will the baby be okay?
Don’t worry too much if this happens. Try to fall asleep on your side, but don’t wake up just to reposition yourself throughout the night. You should allow your body to do what feels most comfortable and enjoy all the sleep that you can, while you can.
Q: I’m pregnant, why do I have to pee so much at night?
Pregnancy is notorious for “shrinking” the bladder. The baby’s growing form pushes on the bladder, subtracting some of its volume and giving you the urge to go much sooner than normal. This can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. You can manage this problem by limiting fluid intake before bed, but you don’t dehydrate yourself either. Diuretics, like caffeinated beverages, should be avoided.
Q: What can I do to help myself fall asleep?
The stresses and discomforts of pregnancy can make it much more difficult to relax at bedtime. Moreover, sleeping medications and other drugs should be avoided during pregnancy. Try these natural methods to lull your body to sleep:
- Drink a warm glass of milk right before bed.
- Eat a high-carb snack, such as saltine crackers.
- Soak in a warm (not hot) bath before bed.
- Get some exercise, but finish at least three hours before bedtime. You can walk, bicycle, swim, or practice yoga.
- Stretching and having a massage can relax your muscles.
Q: Can I use a hot tub, sauna, or tanning bed while I’m pregnant?
While soaking in a hot tub or lounging in a sauna might sound like the perfect way to relax sore muscles, the heat of most hot tubs and saunas can actually be harmful to pregnant women. Pregnancy disrupts your body’s normal temperature regulation, putting you at greater risk of fainting and hyperthermia.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women never let their body temperature exceed 102.2˚F. Most hot tubs hover at around 104˚F. However, you may use hydrotherapy pools, which are typically kept at 95˚F.
You should avoid using a tanning bed while pregnant. Pregnant women’s skin is much more sensitive to UV rays due to an increase in melanin. Using a tanning bed could increase the appearance of hyperpigmentation and melasma – brown patches of skin that appear on some women’s bodies during pregnancy.