Can Sleeping On Back When Pregnant Increase The Risk Of Stillbirth?

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When you are pregnant, you need rest and a good quality sleep to ensure your good health. However, as the pregnancy weeks progress, you realize that it gets more and more difficult to sleep, especially once you start to gain more weight around your tummy.

If you are a person who loves to sleep on their back, the months of pregnancy can be quite uncomfortable for you. Sleeping on your back may not be the best sleeping pose in the coming months, and you may have to opt for other positions that will help you sleep better. Read on and learn all about can you sleep on your back while pregnant and how it can affect your health here.

Can You Sleep On Your Back While Pregnant?

If you have always enjoyed your sleep the best when you lie down on your back, you may want to try lying down on a side while you are pregnant. As your pregnancy progresses, it will be impossible for you to lie down on your back, as you get heavier than before, and your stomach grows with your growing baby inside. Most doctors and medical practitioners will tell you that sleeping on your back while you are pregnant is not recommended at all. In fact, your doctor will most likely also ask you not to sleep on your back and instead lie down on your side as you sleep or rest.

If you are considering whether can you sleep on your back during pregnancy then, make sure you keep the following things in mind:

  • In the initial weeks and the first one or two months when you are pregnant, you may still be able to sleep on your back, as you will not be as heavy with your baby yet. However, as you reach your second trimester, your uterus will start growing heavier, which will not be the best time for you to lie down on your back while sleeping. As a result, you will have to start sleeping on your side, and most likely, on your left side.
  • Once you cross the 20th week of your pregnancy, it is not recommended that you sleep on your back at all.
  • While you are pregnant, as you lie down on your back to sleep, the weight of your uterus will press down on the major vein that helps to return the blood from your lower body to your heart. If you lie down on your back for a long period, you may feel dizzy or may even faint. If you lie down on your back, it could also interfere with the flow of blood and important nutrients to the placenta that helps to supply it to your unborn baby for proper growth and development.
  • Also, if you suffer from any other medical conditions, such as very high levels of blood pressure or even diabetes, it could affect some nutrients and oxygen that is delivered to your unborn baby.
  • While lying down on your back for a few minutes will not cause any harm, it can be a problem if you want to lie down on your back for long stretches of time, or each time that you lie down to sleep.
  • Sometimes, it may be possible that you want to lie down on your back for a few minutes when you are about to sleep, but end up falling asleep and do not realize. Your body will most likely adjust itself and make you move to a different position instead of being on your back.
  • Also, it is possible that when you went to sleep you were lying down on your side, but when you woke up, you found that you were lying on your back. Do not worry, as it is possible that you were lying down on your back for only a little amount of time, which will not cause any harm to your developing baby or you.

Why Is Sleeping On Your Back In Your Pregnancy Not A Good Idea?

The way you sleep and the position in which you sleep while you are pregnant is of the utmost importance, especially for the well-being of your unborn baby and even your health and comfort. As you pass the weeks and months of your pregnancy, a lot of changes will take place in your body, both inside as well as outside. The many changes will have an effect on your overall comfort levels and can often make you feel uncomfortable or even in pain.

Here are a few reasons why doctors do not recommend that you sleep on your back while you are pregnant:

  • As your pregnancy progresses, your stomach will start to grow bigger, and all that additional weight and pressure will need some support especially when you are lying down.
  • During the earliest weeks of your pregnancy and for the most part of the first trimester, it may not be a problem when you lie down on your back. As your belly grows and your overall body and health starts to change with the progression of your pregnancy, you will realize that sleeping on your back will become kind of uncomfortable for you.
  • When you lie down on your back, the entire weight of your growing uterus will press down on your spine, most of your major blood vessels as well as on your intestines. As a result of this additional pressure, you can often experience various signs and symptoms of pregnancy that are not at all comfortable. Some of the signs and symptoms that you may experience due to the pressure of your growing uterus are problems in the flow of blood to your unborn baby, difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath, problems with digestion such as heartburn, acidity and more, and even hemorrhoids.
  • When you lie down on your back while you are pregnant, it can cause problems with the circulation of blood in your system, which is why you may often feel dizzy and may even faint.

The Risk Of Stillbirth Associated With Sleeping On Your Back While You Are Pregnant

While medical professionals have always advised against sleeping on your back while you are pregnant, there are also reports of a connection between sleeping on your back during your pregnancy and the risk of a stillbirth.

Here is a study that shows the relation between pregnancy and sleeping on back, and how it is related to a risk of stillbirth:

  • For the purpose of the study, the medical experts looked at various factors such as snoring, being tired or sleepy during the day as well as sleeping on the back.
  • It was found that all those women who slept on their back while they were pregnant were at a higher risk of having a stillbirth as compared to those women who slept on their left side while they were pregnant.

The same was also expressed in another study that is known as the Sydney Stillbirth Study.

  • The study was carried out to various hospitals in metropolitan Sydney and took place between the years January 2006 and December 2011. Participants included 295 pregnant women who were booked into eight maternity hospitals around Australia.
  • After going through the study that lasted for five years, the medical researchers found that sleeping on your back while you are pregnant can put you at six times the risk of having a stillborn baby.
  • One of the main reasons sleeping on the back during your pregnancy and a stillbirth is that when you lie down on your back, it interferes the amount of blood that should reach your developing baby. As a result, it can cause problems with the baby’s growth and development and can often lead to death inside the womb

While it is clear that sleeping on your back while you are pregnant is not a preferred position, try and practice sleeping on your left side instead. Not only will it help you avoid many complications that arise when you are pregnant, but it will also be helpful in providing your developing baby with the right amount of oxygen and nutrients.

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Moms, how did you sleep while you were pregnant and what was your most comfortable position? Do share how you altered your sleeping position during your pregnancy and what tips helped you sleep a particular way.

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