Convince me why I shouldn't sleep on my back? - Mothering Forums
 
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#1 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 07:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I know basically that there is a major artery (or vein, I forget which) that runs down your back and that, when you lie on your back, the weight of the baby, after a certain point, can put pressure on that artery and decrease the oxygen levels to the baby. At least that's the way I understood it the first time around.

But, what doesn't make sense to me is...why wouldn't my body let me know if I was doing something so dangerous? Why would I only be able to get comfortable lying on my back. It just doesn't work with my belief that the body basically takes care of itself. Before this knowledge came about, how in the world would the human race have survived if something as common as lying on one's back could have detrimental effects on the fetus?

Keep in mind that it's 5am here...I've been lying here in a daze for a good 2 hours now. But as I'm reaching that point in my pg, I'm wondering how important it really is that I avoid sleeping on my back (last pg, I had to put pillows behind my back to keep from rolling over in my sleep...completely counter-instinctual!).
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#2 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 08:32 AM
 
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I'm not sure, looking forward to what others write...but i was thinking of posting this myself! You're not alone, that's for sure.
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#3 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 09:15 AM
 
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Not lying on your back also helps ensure that the baby moves into a good/ideal position.
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#4 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 10:31 AM
 
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My body does tell me. When I was pregnant with my twins, if I laid on back and that vein was compressed, I knew it. My legs went all tingly, kind of numb, and my body would wake me out of a deep sleep. My twin pregnancy is the only time that has happened. I still sleep on my back and will until that feeling comes again.

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#5 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 10:35 AM
 
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Yeah, wait until you feel like you're about to pass out from it and you won't want to lay that way anymore.

I second the position thing too. It says on spinningbabies.com to always have your belly pointing straight out or down. Which after dealing with a cock-eyed baby I know it's important to me that baby be in the best position possible.

ETA: I'm 14 weeks this week and just noticed it happened last night. It woke me up. Maybe it just happens at different times and once it starts happening you shouldn't sleep that way.

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#6 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 11:33 AM
 
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I sleep on my back. I have slept on my back my whole life. Tummy sleeping mystifies me. My DH & ALL my kids tummy sleep, I just don't get it. I have never been able to tummy sleep OR side sleep. I MUST sleep flat on my back or not sleep at all.

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#7 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 11:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by rmzbm View Post
I sleep on my back. I have slept on my back my whole life. Tummy sleeping mystifies me. My DH & ALL my kids tummy sleep, I just don't get it. I have never been able to tummy sleep OR side sleep. I MUST sleep flat on my back or not sleep at all.
Interesting...Interesting...so even with pregnancy no problems, eh? I may have to be less paranoid about this one unless the numbness/tingly thing happens...wahoo!
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#8 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 11:41 AM
 
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Not in your DDC, but I saw this in the new posts.

I would fall asleep on my side, but end up on my back at some point in the night. I'd wake up, notice I was on my back, and roll over onto my side again. I don't know how long it took before I woke up on my back. Anyway, I figured it was my body's way of making sure the baby was alright. And, yes to the spinninbabies thing. My first was posterior and back labor is something I don't ever want to experience again the rest of my life. I'd give up back sleeping all together to avoid it!
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#9 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 11:51 AM
 
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The blood vessel you are talking about is the vena cava which runs alongside your aorta, anterior to your spine. Basically, if you start feeling dizzy or just weird from lying on your back then the baby is already experiencing oxygen deprivation (to what extent really depends on the moms anatomy and what stage of pg she's in trimester wise). Lying on your back is more a concern in the third tri when it's really heavy up front.
My ds2 really likes lying on my belly in such a way that forces me on my back. It's his cuddle time but it makes me feel that weird feeling so I know I shouldn't be lying on my back. He was like that all this morning and would fuss and fuss until I gave in. Sigh.
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#10 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 12:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by willemsmamma View Post
My ds2 really likes lying on my belly in such a way that forces me on my back. It's his cuddle time but it makes me feel that weird feeling so I know I shouldn't be lying on my back. He was like that all this morning and would fuss and fuss until I gave in. Sigh.
Ditto that. I really hope I don't get the tingly thing (I don't remember getting it the first time around, but I am naturally a right-side sleeper) because I just don't know how DD would cope. She has a fit yelling "LIE DOWN!" until I roll onto my back. I'm just hoping that she'll start sleeping better in the early mornings because that's my only hope of 1) getting more sleep myself and 2) not spending too much time on my back.

Sarah, mother to Eloïse (5/2005), Lucas (3/2008) and Ilias (7/2011), and due with #4 (March 1, 2014)

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#11 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 01:31 PM
 
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Not in you DDC either but . . . I didn't have a problem sleeping on my back until I reached the third trimester--then it got really uncomfortable. I mean, sleeping in any position is not comfortable for me anymore despite my 50 million pillows. It hurts my hip to sleep on my side too long. I switch sides from left to right until both hips hurt then I lay on my back for a minute or two till that starts to hurt then I just suck it up and lay on my left side again. I think if it doesn't bother you sleeping on your back and you're not all too concerned about the baby's position, you should sleep however you're most comfortable because you might not be able to get comfortable further down the line.

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#12 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 02:00 PM
 
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Staying off my back seems a small sacrifice to make, when the other option is reducing oxygen flow to my baby. It's an anatomical fact that the pregnant uterus puts pressure on the vena cava in that position. It may be slight in the earlier months, but just because I don't feel it doesn't mean it isn't happening at some level. I want my baby to get ALL the oxygen it's supposed to.

When on your back, the uterus also puts extra pressure on your intestines, so you might notice some side effects in that department.

Also, proper circulation in your body can help prevent swelling.

From http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnanc...positions.aspx

"But before you flip onto your back to catch those z's you crave, consider this: Experts recommend that pregnant women not sleep on their backs during the second and third trimesters because the weight of the growing uterus and baby pressing the vena cava, the main vein that carries oxygenated blook back to the heart from your lower body region. If compressed, it can interfere with optimum circulation (and circulation is a pregnancy's best friend).

So what position should a pregnant woman shift to when you're in search of slumber? Your best bedtime bet is to lie on your side. Though it's less important which side you choose, the left side allows for maximum blood flow (less pressure on the vena cava) and could reduce swelling in the legs. "

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#13 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 02:32 PM
 
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Lying on my back too long in my 7th month, caused me to faint! Never happened before that or after. :

ETA: I was semi-reclined, btw.
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#14 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 03:00 PM
 
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Sorry at this point I don't trust a thing that comes from the evil "What To Expect" books. They would be better named "Ways To Freak Out Moms To Be"

I go with the if it's bad for me my body will tell me. A couple weeks back I rolled on to my left side and felt this very strange muscle pulling starting on that side and going across my entire stomach. I rolled off my stomach it stopped and everything calmed down. I have no clue what caused it, but I'm guessing for some reason it was a bad way for me to lay just then.

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#15 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 03:42 PM
 
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And to what extent? If you're elevated, is it the same? At what angle does it become "dangerous"? I sit on the computer all day and sit square on my hips (I know, I shouldnt, but I dont have a desk and chair so here we are). Is sitting in a recliner dangerous?

I just don't see it. I see it in the third trimester yes, that makes sense, but at 16 weeks? I have always been a side sleeper, but recently I keep waking up on my back and its incredibly comfortable. I just dont see my body putting myself or this baby at risk. I agree there will be signs.
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#16 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 04:31 PM
 
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Organicavocado, I just read somewhere (can't remember where) that you can recline or sit without causing problems, but not lie flat on your back.

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#17 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 04:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by JolieSolange View Post
Staying off my back seems a small sacrifice to make, when the other option is reducing oxygen flow to my baby. It's an anatomical fact that the pregnant uterus puts pressure on the vena cava in that position. It may be slight in the earlier months, but just because I don't feel it doesn't mean it isn't happening at some level. I want my baby to get ALL the oxygen it's supposed to.
Well, I wasn't debating whether or not I should care if my baby is getting enough oxygen. Obviously, if I know that's the case, then sleeping on my side is a small sacrifice to make. My question was about whether or not there is any truth to that so-called anatomical fact. You get a lot of do's and don't's based on hearsay during pregnancy, and I've yet to find anything definitive on this matter. I agree w/pp in that I don't at all trust the information from the What to Expect series. I need more solid sources to convince me of something that goes against my very philosophy on child-bearing.

Thanks for all the responses so far. It's good to hear other opinions.
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#18 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 06:04 PM
 
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[QUOTE=s_kristina;9592274]Sorry at this point I don't trust a thing that comes from the evil "What To Expect" books. They would be better named "Ways To Freak Out Moms To Be" QUOTE]

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#19 of 29 Old 10-31-2007, 06:11 PM
 
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The vena cava thing is very pronounced with me. With my first pregnancy, I didn't notice it until I was about 6 months along and almost passed out on the ultrasound table because I was lying flat on my back, but with this one I'm already beginning to notice it -- I love lying on my back, but after about 10 minutes I start to get dizzy and feel nauseous.

I'm kind of of the mind that your body *will* give you a clue if you're doing something harmful to the baby, and those people who are able to lie comfortably on their backs probably aren't harming their babies, but of course that's just my completely uninformed opinion.

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#20 of 29 Old 11-01-2007, 11:17 AM
 
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it is definitely an anatomical fact. i've never heard anyone debate the validity of that one before.

i always tell my prenatal yoga students that if they feel more comfy on their back they should try to at least stick a pillow under their right side to take some of the pressure off (that's where the vena cava comes up, on the right).

but i also very much agree about the baby positioning thing. with DD, i almost exclusively slept on my right side because DH and I always cuddled together as we slept and he had the left side of the bed and i the right - so he'd lay behind me and put his arm around me, with hand on my belly. my DD presented on the right (left is ideal) and her head had a difficult time turning from that position. i had some pretty intense back labor because of it. not fun.

check out spinningbabies.com - loads of helpful info there.
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#21 of 29 Old 11-01-2007, 11:22 AM
 
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Not in your DDC ... but I was a back-sleeper for all four of my babies. Ask my midwife with #3 and #4 whether it was an issue. She said no - you will feel the effects of the poorer circulation long before the baby - so roll (or change positions) if you get the tingly thing going. My OB (for #1 and #2) was also just fine with back sleeping.

I think as long as you are low risk, no blood pressure issues, no weight issues and a healthy babe - you will have no issues with back sleeping.
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#22 of 29 Old 11-01-2007, 11:49 AM
 
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I normally sleep on my right side. Then when my dd climbs into bed my back because she likes to sleep on my arm.

Last night I woke up and my hand was asleep (before dd came in)so I switched to my left side no more problems. When my dd comes into our bed (usually around 6am) I put a pillow under my Left side to make sure I am not totally flat. She likes to sleep in between my dh and I so right side it is.

Before I got pregnant I couldn't fall asleep on my left but now I can't fall asleep on my right side I have to be on my left. I think it was like that with my previous pregnancy also.

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#23 of 29 Old 11-01-2007, 01:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by s_kristina View Post
Sorry at this point I don't trust a thing that comes from the evil "What To Expect" books. They would be better named "Ways To Freak Out Moms To Be"
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#24 of 29 Old 11-01-2007, 04:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by JolieSolange View Post
Staying off my back seems a small sacrifice to make, when the other option is reducing oxygen flow to my baby. It's an anatomical fact that the pregnant uterus puts pressure on the vena cava in that position. It may be slight in the earlier months, but just because I don't feel it doesn't mean it isn't happening at some level. I want my baby to get ALL the oxygen it's supposed to.
How do you know it's "supposed to"?

I mean, seriously? Doctors will tell us that (1) ALL pregnant women's bodies are arranged in such a way as to cause compression of the vena cava when back-lying; (2) this is bad and dangerous. When my mom was pregnant with me, doctors told women it was unsafe to gain more than 15 pounds during pregnancy. Routinely, doctors tell women that gestating more than 40, or 41, or 42 weeks is unsafe. (Or 38 or 39, if you have GD or some other condition.) My son's doctor told me that there was no "need" to nurse more often than every 3 hours. My husband's doctor has told him that there's no cause or particular treatment for his IBS other than increased fiber intake. There are a lot of "medical facts" that get debunked by later research (or even *concurrent* research, such as the AAP's current stance that "cosleeping is dangerous for baby"), and a whole lot of big blanks where you'd think doctors "should" know something.

Here's a possibility: the slight oxygen deprivation that the fetus experiences when a normal, healthy mom lies on her back without feeling ill cues the baby that it's nighttime and time to sleep, setting it up for day-night cycles by birth. Or the routine "challenge" to baby's circulatory system strengthens the cardiovascular system and makes heart disease less likely in later life. Or the reduced oxygen flow has no particular affect on baby if mom doesn't feel it.

Women who experience ill effects from lying on their backs while pregnant *should not lie on their backs.* Women who do not, though... I really don't know of anything but the "obvious medical fact" of general arrangement of organs around the vena cava and a whole lot of speculation and assumption that leads us to this conclusion.

I wake up on my back all the time. Even when 9 months pregnant with my son, lying on my back *never* caused me any issues. My best friend, who was 4 months more pregnant than me, couldn't last even five minutes on her back without seeing stars and getting really dizzy... the effect was almost immediate for her. You can't tell me that her body and my body respond to the situation the SAME way and need the SAME guidelines. It just makes no sense!
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#25 of 29 Old 11-01-2007, 05:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Ironica View Post
Here's a possibility: the slight oxygen deprivation that the fetus experiences when a normal, healthy mom lies on her back without feeling ill cues the baby that it's nighttime and time to sleep, setting it up for day-night cycles by birth. Or the routine "challenge" to baby's circulatory system strengthens the cardiovascular system and makes heart disease less likely in later life. Or the reduced oxygen flow has no particular affect on baby if mom doesn't feel it.
I'm sorry, but that to me is like saying it woud be OK to "slightly" suffocate a child to make their heart stronger or make them sleepy at nighttime - does that make any sense to you?

My meaning (in my original post) is that we know that doctors recommend not lying on our backs, as that can put pressure on the vena cava, causing various effects, one of which is a possible reduction of oxygen flow to the baby. Is that 100% proven? No, but it's not proven untrue either. It's impossible for us to know EXACTLY what is going on with our babies when they're in the womb - it's possible that they are feeling ill effects without us knowing it. I mean, some women miscarry but their bodies don't realize it until three weeks later!

I've heard no warnings against sleeping on our left sides, but plenty about not sleeping on our backs, so I'll take the safe route and stay on my side until someone proves to me that back sleeping is 100% safe. When I say it's a small sacrifice to make, I mean it's a small adjustment to make to avoid a *potential* danger to my baby.

If someone had told you 50 years ago to take extra folic acid to prevent spina bifida, would you have scoffed and ignored the recommendation just because it wasn't 100% proven yet?

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#26 of 29 Old 11-01-2007, 06:33 PM
 
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I don't sleep on my back because I did during my first pregnancy and had a posterior positioned baby that did not descend into the birth canal even after 14 hours of pitocin. It ended in a c-section.

I practiced optimal fetal positioning strategies during my second pregnancy (which included not reclining and not sleeping on my back) and had an easy vaginal birth with a well positioned baby.

My own personal experiences (as well as additional research and recommendations of two midwives) have taught me that it's unwise for me to sleep on my back. It encourages/enables my babies to position themselves in ways that are not conducive to a natural birth.
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#27 of 29 Old 11-01-2007, 06:48 PM
 
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Originally Posted by JolieSolange View Post
When I say it's a small sacrifice to make, I mean it's a small adjustment to make to avoid a *potential* danger to my baby.
Ironica and Jolie - I think I hear what you're both saying. On the one hand if we know certain things are harmful to our unborn babies, or even suspect them to be true, it's wise to take proper precautions. On the other hand, we could spend all our time following doctor's orders, when quite often doctors turn out to be flat-out wrong.

There are certain things that fall into a grey area when it comes to pregnancy. The vena cava/back sleeping thing is one of them.

I don't hear anyone saying, "I like sleeping on my back, and too bad for my baby. He/she can just deal with the oxygen deprivation!"

When I was pg with DD1 I rarely woke up on my back. With DD2 I woke up on my back a lot. Almost every night. I rolled onto my side and went back to sleep. I'm pretty sure my body woke me up. All I do know is that I woke up, and my instinct was to roll onto my side.

Pregnant women are subject to a whole host of things to be cautious about. I think this is pretty minor, and I'm pretty sure our bodies are designed to make sure the baby gets what it needs.

A great way to boost the oxygen to your baby is to get regular aerobic exercise. How many women follow that doctor's advice? Or go around insisting other women "make the small sacrifice" of time and energy to make sure their baby gets the extra oxygen?
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#28 of 29 Old 11-01-2007, 08:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by JolieSolange View Post
I'm sorry, but that to me is like saying it woud be OK to "slightly" suffocate a child to make their heart stronger or make them sleepy at nighttime - does that make any sense to you?
I'm sorry you don't understand what I'm saying, which is that there is NO indication that there are harmful effects to back sleeping in women who have no adverse reaction to it, and since it's all just speculation on the part of doctors (who, let's be honest, are wrong about MANY things), it really isn't necessarily a big deal.

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Originally Posted by JolieSolange View Post
My meaning (in my original post) is that we know that doctors recommend not lying on our backs,
Are you following all "doctor recommendations" during your pregnancy? Drinking four glasses of milk a day? Doing exactly the right kinds of exercise? Getting ALL the recommended tests? Oh, and let's not forget, the places doctors disagree... should you get no routine ultrasounds (recommendation of the ACOG), or one anatomy scan at ~20 weeks (recommendation of some OBs), or two ultrasounds (one for the NT screening and one anatomy scan later on)? Should your GTT be under 130, or 140 (ACOG doesn't care which guideline you use)? Should you eat no fish, some fish, or a lot of fish? Only certain species of fish? Only canned tuna? Only fresh, wild-caught fish?

Doctors don't disagree on the back-lying recommendation. Neither do they disagree that 25-35 pounds is the optimal weight gain during pregnancy, that you should drink a bottle of sugar water and sit on your ass for an hour before a blood draw, or that 140/90 is the "cutoff" for acceptable blood pressure. Does this mean they're RIGHT? There's probably more evidence for some of these recommendations than for the back-lying one.

Go back say, 15 years, and pediatricians were telling parents that their babies got the best sleep if placed on their stomachs to sleep. Everyone "knew" that it was better for babies to sleep on their stomachs; they slept longer and deeper that way. In 1994, public health agencies launched a HUGE awareness campaign to counteract years of this advice, in the face of actual evidence that it was a bad idea. Turns out, too, if you really look at what's "natural" for human babies, sleeping next to mom, rolling over and nursing at night, and then falling back asleep on their backs or sides is very common. We shouldn't have been fighting that natural positioning, it turns out.

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Originally Posted by JolieSolange View Post
as that can put pressure on the vena cava, causing various effects, one of which is a possible reduction of oxygen flow to the baby. Is that 100% proven?
For that matter, is there any evidence AT ALL?

On the third page of a Google Scholar search for vena cava back pregnant, I finally found ONE hit that seemed to be at all about this compression issue:

http://www.anesthesia-analgesia.org/...tract/97/1/256

Which basically says that, when performing anesthesia of a back-lying pregnant woman, there's no benefit in her cardiac output to tilt her off of the vena cava.

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Originally Posted by JolieSolange View Post
It's impossible for us to know EXACTLY what is going on with our babies when they're in the womb - it's possible that they are feeling ill effects without us knowing it. I mean, some women miscarry but their bodies don't realize it until three weeks later!
Not sure what that has to do with sleeping posture.

Ok, inner-spring mattresses are newcomers to the human sleep environment, but as far as I know, we've never slept on our feet like ungulates. So, if women have been sleeping lying down while pregnant for millenia, then chances are a whole lot of them have been back-sleeping, too. When did this recommendation come about? Did a coincident reduction in some sort of pregnancy or birth complication occur? With folic acid, we *saw* a reduction in spinal bifidia (and, btw, a more significant increase in colon cancer in older men, specifically correlated with adding folic acid to enriched bread products). With the "back to sleep" campaign, different countries saw reductions of 50-70% in SIDS cases. So, my questions for you (since you're the one who wants to prove that this is a Medically Necessary recommendation for All Women) is, (a) when did the recommendation occur, and (b) what statistical changes occurred that can be correlated with it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JolieSolange View Post
I've heard no warnings against sleeping on our left sides, but plenty about not sleeping on our backs, so I'll take the safe route and stay on my side until someone proves to me that back sleeping is 100% safe. When I say it's a small sacrifice to make, I mean it's a small adjustment to make to avoid a *potential* danger to my baby.
FOR YOU. So, by all means, make it! I'm not saying that anyone shouldn't sleep on their side. But for some women, the choice is "sleep on your back" or "don't sleep." That is NOT a small sacrifice to make.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JolieSolange View Post
If someone had told you 50 years ago to take extra folic acid to prevent spina bifida, would you have scoffed and ignored the recommendation just because it wasn't 100% proven yet?
That depends... what's their evidence? Is it "We've found that women with higher folic acid intakes are less likely to have babies with spinal bifidia?" Or "We've noticed that folic acid is an important nutrient; therefore, pregnant women need more of it"? And then there's the fact that increasing folic acid intake also increases the rate of certain kinds of cancer. Which makes sense; folic acid is involved in growth, and tumors specialize in growth.

(Never mind that folic acid wouldn't be an issue if we weren't getting so darn much of our caloric intake from grains, especially refined ones... but anyway.)

Look, sleep on your side, if it makes you feel better... but I seriously don't get all this fear-mongering about those who have NO ill effects from back sleeping, and also have significant gains in the amount of rest they get from finding a comfortable position. Me, I'm not comfortable on my back... but it does come in second to my stomach. I don't think I'll be able to sleep on my side for months. Literally; I won't be able to FALL asleep, and I won't be able to STAY asleep. You really think that's good for my baby, or me? ;-)
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#29 of 29 Old 10-08-2015, 11:38 AM
 
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What convinced me was reading this study about whether pregnant women who need an MRI should lie on their backs. (This is my first post, so I can't post the link, but search for "Risk of inferior vena cava compression syndrome during fetal MRI in the supine position".)

Of 56 women lying on their backs for the duration of the MRI (not a whole night, mind you!), only one had no compression of the vena cava. Most had some compression, but none had symptoms of "vena cava compression syndrome" (dizziness, pain, etc.) Meaning you can have compression - and reduced circulation to the baby - without even knowing it.

They found that lying on the side significantly reduced the pressure.
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