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Is it safe for pregnant women to lie flat on their backs?

Poll Results: Is it safe for pregnant women to lie flat on their backs?

 
  • 30% (6)
    Yes - It's totally fine
  • 15% (3)
    No - It's not safe
  • 40% (8)
    It's okay...but only briefly
  • 15% (3)
    Other (explain)
20 Total Votes  
post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I teach prenatal yoga and I was trained that after the 4th month pregnant women should not lie flat on their backs and I've created my class accordingly.

We do our pelvic rocking from table position (hands and knees) and when we lie back for relaxation, we use lots of pillows to prop up the shoulders/upper back.

But.....

I have seen so much contradiction about this in yoga books and pregnancy/birth books. (I am also training to be a doula so I'm reading a LOT of birth books these days. )

One of my students asked me about it again today because she has a yoga tape that has pregnant women lying on their backs and I told her I'd do some more research.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks.

~Erin
post #2 of 12
Well, I've always been taught (i'm a massage therapist and doula) in the classes I've attended that a pregnant woman shouldn't lay on her back beginning in the 2nd trimester. The weight of the baby presses on the vena cava and can cause decreased blood flow.

That said, during vag. exams/ultrasounds, they do have you lay on your back. Each time, I got very light headed and had to lay on my side.

Hope this helps~

Lisa:bf
post #3 of 12
From what I've read (and I'm no midwife or anything... so not quite an expert here ) it has to do with the comfort level of mom. That it would be uncomfortable for her if she shouldn't lay that way.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks you guys! I'm interested in all opinions...midwives, doulas, doctors, childbirth educators, experienced pregnant ladies...anyone who has ever read/heard anything on the subject...I'll take it!!

Quote:
a pregnant woman shouldn't lay on her back beginning in the 2nd trimester. The weight of the baby presses on the vena cava and can cause decreased blood flow.
That's what I was taught too....but my students are coming into class with exercises "prescribed" by their midwife/OB that have them laying flat on their back. :

~Erin
post #5 of 12
I don't think there is any harm in laying on your back for brief periods or for as long as you are comfortable. The uterus does lay on the vena cava and I know it makes me very uncomfortable within seconds. I'm only 17 weeks and I already can't lay on my back!

I believe the real problem is in laboring on your back when the baby needs as much blood and oxygen as possible. You wouldn't want to be in any position that migh compromise the baby's oxygen supply while she is tolerating contractions.

Amy
post #6 of 12
I have found it uncomfortable to lie on my back since about 20-25 weeks. I'm at exactly 40 weeks today, and now if I lie on my back for more than a few seconds I just can't stand it. My legs go numb right away. I can't say what it is exactly - it just feels like the wrong position to be in completely!

My doula/massage therapist always has me place a big pillow under my knees and a thin wedge under my right hip to elevate it for the few minutes in a session she needs me on my back. I think she explained that the vena cava is not compressed as long as the right hip remains slightly elevated. Even this modified back position has been markedly less comfortable for me the past few weeks, though!
post #7 of 12
I've been doing the Pilates for Pregnancy DVD (Melinda Bryan's) for all of my 2nd trimester. A lot of the exercises you lie on your back for, but they are interspersed with ones that you sit up or side-lie for. I haven't had a problem with them , possibly because at the same time I am lying down I am exercising my abdominal area and moving a lot. They do have modifications with pillows under your shoulders for when I get really big. I will have to let you know!
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the responses! Much appreciated.

~Erin
post #9 of 12
As with everything else about pregnancy, the laying on the back thing varies from woman to woman, and from baby to baby.

And, also with many other things in pregnancy, there's a common sense answer - if it feels ok, it probably is ok. If the weight of the pregnant uterus pressing on the vena cava isn't causing oxygen deprivation to the mom, then it most likely isn't causing oxygen deprivation to the babe.

I've known women who were upset because when they woke up at night to pee they had been lying on their backs... when I would ask if they were comfortable on their backs they would say "oh, yes - but (fill in the blank) told me you weren't supposed to! But I just keep ending up on my back during the night!"

Hope this helps - personally, I've had it both ways; and of course, if I got short of breath, I would move.

Barbara
post #10 of 12
I agree with the previous posters...it's ok as long as you are comfortable..however, you should abstain from lying on your back for any length of time if you are hypertensive.
post #11 of 12
I have heard the same - but then I saw this book (do not remember the name of course ) for prenatal yoga and they had women doing everything! Up side down possition, on their back, everything. I do yoga at home and I did not have problems doing up side down possitions, even back bend in late pregnancy, but to lie flat on my back - I could not do that from about 20 weeks!! It would hurt as hell! My lower back is I think too arched and laying on the hard floor flat - impossible! Even with my legs bended. No way. I go to chiropractor regulary and after he is done he tells me to lie down for a while and I just can not do it! My baby is too heavy and after a second I cant even breathe......
post #12 of 12
I'm 32 weeks and am carrying this baby low vs. ds. I still feel comfortable lying on my back but try to lye on my side as I read something here about it affecting the way the baby's position (which mine is still side lying). I suppose it's fine for short periods. Maybe b/c of the way the baby is lying it doesn't cut off my supply. In fact sometimes when the baby gets into a certain position it actually cuts of oxygen to lye on my left side, in which case the right side is much better. Weird huh?
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