Pregnant women need to sleep on the left side

Pregnant women need to sleep on the left side

Most of the doctors advise pregnant women to sleep on their sides especially in the third trimester. Ever wonder why that is. Well to reduce the risk factors for stillbirths, some researchers in the UK looked at the association between maternal sleep practices and stillbirths. They found out that ‘mothers who went to sleep on their back had at least twice the risk of stillbirth compared with mothers who went to sleep on their left-hand side’.

The study concluded that the maternal supine position (a position where the pregnant woman lies horizontally with her face and torso facing up) is associated with compression of the inferior vena cava and reduced venous return, which in turn decreases the amount of blood pumped by the heart per minute and ultimately leads to reduced blood flow to the uterus.

The study also hinted that mother’s sleeping on their back during pregnancy can contribute to abnormal fetal heart rate during labor which is one of the most common reasons for emergency C-section delivery.

Although women regularly change their sleep positions when sleeping, it is believed that the going-to-sleep position is very important as it is the one that is held longest and may have the greatest impact on the baby. Hence pregnant women are recommended to as much as possible avoid the supine position, especially during the last trimester. 

While a pregnant mother may not be able to do anything about the position she wakes up in, she can do something about that which she goes to sleep in. Putting a pillow behind her back would help encourage side-sleeping.  It is best if she can afford a maternity pillow which can help her remain in the side-sleeping position.

Now the question is which side is more ideal. Well Ayurveda Science prescribes to sleep on your left. Let’s explore some reasons.

Better Digestion:

The stomach and the pancreas (which make digestive enzymes) are placed on the left side of the body. It is proposed that when you lie on the left side, the stomach and pancreas hangs naturally, allowing for optimal and efficient digestion. This practice can make digestive cycle smoother and ultimately shorter, and hence making the person not feeling tired and lazy throughout the entire afternoon.

Try eating a large midday meal in a relaxed fashion, followed by a 10 minute rest on the left side and see if you find yourself with more energy and better digestion as a result.

Better Elimination:

The small intestine dumps waste through the ileocecal valve (ICV) on the right side of the body into the beginning of the large intestine. The large intestine travels up the right side of your belly the across the tummy, where it dumps waste into the descending colon on the left side.

Sleeping on the left side allows gravity to encourage the food waste to move more easily from the small intestine into the large intestine through the ICV.

As the night wears on and you continue to sleep on your left side, the waste moves more easily into the descending colon. With the help of gravity and a good night’s sleep on the left the side, the descending colon is full of waste to easily eliminate completely each morning.

Better Heart Function:

Of course, one of the biggest players on the left side is the heart. It makes sense that if you sleep on your left side, the lymph drainage toward the heart will again be helped by gravity, taking some of the workload off the heart as you sleep.

May be the above three physiological reasons are not supported by enough evidence but the logic does help. So there is NO harm trying this position and testing it by ourselves.

About the Author (Click on her name): Dr. Nidhi Choudhary

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