Is it Safe to Lay on Your Back When Pregnant?

I was hanging out by the hotel pool this past holiday weekend when I saw a young pregnant woman laying on her back, sunning herself, next to the pool.  I had spoken to her briefly earlier when she came into the pool area, and congratulated her on the beautiful bump she was sporting in her red bikini.  She was 6 months pregnant with her first, and so very excited.  She definitely was in the glow.  It surprised me how uncomfortable I was to see her lay completely flat in a horizontal position. I wrestled with the urge to approach her and tell her that it was not a safe way for her to be resting.  But is that true?  Is it SAFE to lay on your back when pregnant?

I controlled myself, and remembered my manners.  I didn’t know her, it was none of my business, and most importantly, I had no definitive answer as to whether it was legitimately safe to lay on your back or not at 6 months pregnant or any time when pregnant.  I recall being told by my friends, yoga instructors, aunts, etc. when I was pregnant that it was unsafe, dangerous even.  But I wracked my brain and could not remember if a doctor or midwife ever gave me this warning.

What is definitely clear in my memory is that I seemed to dance each night in bed searching for a comfortable way to sleep.  And each week it became more of a challenge.  But was I avoiding my back due to safety issues or because it was no longer comfortable?  Is this a myth or a pregnancy fact?

According to Web M.D., one of the reasons that you are advised not to lie on you’re back during pregnancy is that “the weight of the pregnant uterus slows the return of blood to your heart which reduces blood flow to the fetus…this could mean that the baby gets less oxygen and fewer nutrients.”  Just Mommies polled their experts and they concluded that “it just was not the best position for you or your baby but not necessarily harmful.”  Clearly the farther along you go in your pregnancy the less comfortable it is to sleep on your back or certainly your stomach.  In fact, it becomes more and more difficult to get cozy in bed, in the car, or on a chair – yep it starts to get tricky.
Interestingly enough many women tend to sleep on their left side as opposed to the right side when they’re pregnant.  What side are you sleeping on ? I loved my body pillow, it was with me religiously during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.   I got a full body pillow from Bed Bath and Beyond, nothing fancy, and it was wonderful.  My favorite position was to put it between my legs when I slept on my left side.   Hey all you beautiful pregnant women out there, how are you sleeping?  And if you are no longer preggo, any tips for our fellow sisters?
No matter how you slice it, while you’re pregnant sleeping turns into an art form.  Especially as your belly and breasts grow, and your bladder seems to shrink!   A good nights sleep is always the best thing for you and your growing baby, and for your partner.  You all need as much rest as possible because labor is exactly that, it is a marathon, you will work very hard to deliver that baby.  Get your rest to help you prepare. Postpartum is no picnic in regards to sleep.  The first few weeks, and for me the first 3 months, are challenging.  Remember the baby sleeps typically in 2 to 3 hour stretches.  So use your pregnancy to be creative with sleeping positions, it will come in handy later.

The final verdict on laying on your back when pregnant?  Well you see the results of my Google search.  I encourage you to do your own, and of course, ask your OBGYN or Midwife, and share what they tell you as a comment on this post.  It could be a great reference for other women.

Sweet Dreams,

Alisa Donner, MSW, LCSW, Co-Founder of PAM, and mother to a magnificent wonder!

**Disclaimer, PAM is a blog of moms and women who LOVE all things pregnancy and new parenting, we are NOT providing medical advise here.  None of us are medical professionals, we are not doctors or midwives.  Please get all of your medical advise from medical professionals.  And think of us as mom’s who are sharing their experiences and opinions.

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