Sleeping on back dangerous when pregnant?!

I try to take everything I read on the Daily Schmail with a pinch of salt as it’s nought but an addictive, fear-mongering, women attacking rag. But when I saw this article I had to pay attention!

The reason being, I’ve started to sleep on my back. I always slept and have only been comfortable sleeping in the fetal position before, but for the last few weeks of my pregnancy the ONLY way I was comfortable was lying flat-out on my back. Then I happen across this article and the fear set in! –  Oh shite!! Have I unknowingly done damage to my unborn child?! Heeeelppp!!! What do I do?!

To cut a scarily-headed, short article shorter, some controlled study done at the University of Auckland found that when they monitored the heart rates of 29 unborn children for 30 minutes as the mother changed position four times: flat on back, propped up at 30 degree angle, or lying on left side/right side; when the mother was flat on her back, the baby’s heart rate was affected.

Lying in this position is supposed to reduce blood pressure and cause ‘physiological stress’ to the baby leading to reduced oxygen consumption, health problems and even fatality!! :O :O


So anyway, after I flapped about a bit in a panic, I properly read the article a second time and noticed that there were a few key words that I missed on my first skim. For example, ‘the supine position MAY be disadvantageous for foetal wellbeing and in COMPROMISED pregnancies MAY be a sufficient stressor to contribute to foetal demise.’ Also it states that it’s referring to heavily pregnant women and so I would imagine the weight of a fully fledged stomach would have something to do with it. (I’m definitely not at that stage just yet!)

Phew. So I feel a bit calmer now and think I jumped the gun there with my paranoia. Stupid Daily Mail!!

Anyway, I still wanted to know is this advice just something I missed and that it’s pure common knowledge to other women, and somehow I wasn’t told because I should have just known already? Heh?! advises women not to sleep on their backs once in second trimester and beyond. They say that the pressure on major veins running to your heart ‘could also interfere with the flow of blood and nutrients to the placenta and your developing baby’.

This HealthDay report agrees to a certain extent but stresses that many other factors have to be taken into consideration before you could conclude that sleeping on your back alone could cause stillbirth. Things like, whether or not the mother smokes, the mother’s body weight etc, can all contribute to poor fetal growth and development – it would be impossible to blame sleeping position solely.

So presumably it’s only a risk to expectant mothers when there are already complications with the pregnancy? OR where the mother has underlying health conditions (like high blood pressure and diabetes) and that may directly contribute to the side-effects of this sleeping position?

Hmmm, a bit of conflicting information here!

Surely if an expectant mother’s sleeping position was imperative to the unborn child’s well-being then SOMEBODY at the hospital or a midwife or nurse would have told me this?! Considering I’m already nearly five and a half months pregnant!

I’m going to ask at my next appointment and see what they think but for now I think I’ll stick to lying on my left side when snuggling in for the night. My belly is starting to pop (finally!) so best get into good habits now I suppose. The jury seems to be out on this one and until I get some cold hard facts – as always, best to err on the side of caution! At the end of the day, reading scary articles and getting worked up while pregnant is DEFINITELY not a good idea. Good excuse for a foot rub I say – best way to relax! 😉






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s