Lately I’ve been talking a bunch with my pregnant clients about how they sleep, specifically about their sleeping position.
Most pregnant people when they learn about sleeping on their left side during pregnancy have a tendency to stack their hips on top of each other.
This often leads to unnecessary soreness in the hips putting undue strain on the top hip and undue pressure on the bottom.
The benefits of sleeping on your left side during pregnancy have to do with a few factors connected to the location of our internal organs and blood vessels as well as the most optimal position for the baby to lie in utero.
When a baby’s back and butt lean left and forward, it makes for an easier entrance into the pelvis and often an easier labor.
I do tell people not to worry if they need to switch sides and spend time on their right side, or if they naturally roll onto their backs, a concern because the baby’s weight can put pressure on major blood vessels, but short periods of time in this position may not even be a problem for many people, especially at an incline.
Still, the lateral recumbent or Sims’ position as it’s called is primarily the ideal way to go.
The Sims’ position, as described on Wikipedia, “is performed by having the person lie on their left side, left hip and lower extremity straight, and right hip and knee bent”.
Placing your body pillow or any big fluffy pillow under your right thigh and knee will help support your top leg and make a room for your pregnant belly.
Rather than stacking hips, I tell people to kick their bottom left hip back and allow their body to roll slightly forward. If you’ve been stacking your hips, it may seem like you’re leaning too far forward but as long as you’re comfortable, baby is fine. Belly sleepers especially love this instruction because it offers a nod to the position they favored pre-pregnancy.
An additional element of this position to try, is to let your left bottom arm rest back behind you (as shown in the photo above), rather than tucking it under your shoulder or pillow. This adds the benefit of stretching your left upper chest backward, which can function as a lovely gentle chest opener and doesn’t scrunch your bottom shoulder.
See also the photo below from the Miles’ Circuit which is the exaggerated Sims’ position that I’m describing that is so beneficial during pregnancy (Note: in this image the position is reversed, she's lying on her right side, so just flip it in your mind). If you’re pregnant, give it a try and see if you like the difference. If you’re a doula, please share this with your people.
I always feel awful when I teach this to someone in their 39th week of pregnancy when they learn they could have been sleeping so much more comfortably all along, instead of just their last weeks of pregnancy. I mean better late than never, but let’s spread the word so more pregnant people can have more comfortable, better positioned sleep throughout their whole pregnancies!