Pregnancy 101: How to Roll Over

You might think rolling over is no big deal unless perhaps you’re training your dog, or your infant has developed a greater degree of mobility.  Consider, however, the plight of the poor pregnant woman, a beached whale trapped on her back in the divot of a sagging mattress.  Rolling over is no small feat, especially once you’ve reached the point where you can no longer see your feet.

Pregnancy101Before we get into the bio-mechanics of rolling over for a pregnant woman, lets first consider the act of rolling over while not in that most delicate state.  I sleep on the right side of the bed.  If I start out lying on my right side at the very edge of my side of the bed, rolling over involves falling to my back and then using momentum and my abdominal muscles to pull me up on my left side.  At this point I have traveled over 3/4 of the way across our full sized bed and my husband has been displaced onto the floor.  Now, if your spouse is willing to just stay on the floor, you’re golden. But if your spouse is anything like mine, he expects to get back into the bed – of which you are taking up your 2/3 right out of the middle.  Making room for him means you must scootch (I’m using the technical term here) back over to your side.

Scootching of course, involves bending your knees and pressing your feet into the mattress enough to lift your bum and swing it to the right, then use your abdominal muscles to pull your upper body the rest of the way back over to your side of the bed.  Notice that so far in this description we have used our abdominal muscles twice.  After that much exercise, it’s time for a nap.

Now let’s reconsider this scenario from the perspective of a pregnant woman.

Sleeping while pregnant requires a lot more pillows. By far, the most critical pillow is the pillow between your knees that helps keep the spine straight.  The other pillows may be added or subtracted according to relative comfort level, which may change at any given moment.  What are the other pillows for? One for between the feet to keep them from, heaven forbid, touching each other.  Another smallish or super soft down pillow goes between the belly and the mattress for support.  A pillow in the arms for holding and snuggling and squeezing, another at the lower back for lumbar support, and of course the pillow that goes under the head.


Now re-imagine the act of rolling over while keeping all of the pillows necessary for adequate rest in their appropriate positions.  You can’t do it.  You must first disengage from the pillows, roll over, scootch back to your side of the bed and then wake up your husband and have him retrieve all the pillows that fell to the floor when your whale sized butt scootched back into them. After grumpy husband throws pillows at you,  you must then reposition all of the pillows to find a comfortable enough position to return to sleep.  This could take several attempts as from day to day or even hour to hour, the one position that is comfortable may change considerably.

We have recently discovered the full body pillow which takes the place of several of the pillows listed above.  This has been an immense improvement on our sleeping conditions and marriage.  On the down side, this pillow is about the size of a small adult which means we are essentially sleeping three across our tiny full-sized bed.  In addition, I have returned from a potty run on many occasions to find my pillow contently snuggled up in my husbands arms, my husband’s leg thrown over the bottom half.  It stings a bit that my pillow would betray me in this manner, and further extends the amount of time it takes to get settled into a sleep position when I must first wrestle the pillow from my husband’s arms.

The two rolling over scenarios I have described above both ignore the physiological changes in a woman’s body during pregnancy.  The first and most critical being increased clumsiness. How could clumsiness come in to play when one is lying down throughout the entire ordeal?  Get yourself knocked up and you’ll figure it out.  In addition, we get winded much more easily and the act of rolling over may require a stop, mid-roll, to catch one’s breath.  Now it may seem like the logical place to stop and catch your breath may be mid-roll while you are flat on your back.  This is, however, the worst possible position from which to try to catch your breath.  While on your back the uterus and baby push the rest of your organs further up under your rib cage making it difficult to breath even if you haven’t already winded yourself.  Also, if you stop while flat on your back, you have completely lost all momentum meaning the remainder of the roll will be powered entirely by your now non-existent abdominal muscles.  Besides, odds are you will suddenly have to run to the bathroom mid-roll anyways.

The easiest answer to rolling over in bed while pregnant: Get up and go to the bathroom and when you come back, rip the damn body pillow out of your husband’s arms, beat him with it for a minute and then lie down in the position in which you want to sleep.

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