Help! I’ve always slept lying on my back – why do I need to change?
Our midwife Melissa says:
"As your baby grows in your uterus, it can place pressure on your major blood vessels (the vena cava) if you lie on your back. The vena cava carries blood from your body to your heart to be oxygenated. If this blood supply is reduced, the amount of oxygenated blood falls and this can make you feel dizzy or short of breath. You can understand that if you are not getting enough oxygen, your baby may not be either.
"It is not until your uterus and baby are larger – in the last few months of pregnancy – that lying on your back is a concern. Until then, you might be very comfortable to sleep on your back. It is ok to sleep on your back for as long as you are comfortable, and you will notice a time when it is no longer comfortable for you: you may feel light-headed, dizzy or short of breath, and that would be your cue to switch to side-lying sleeping positions, perhaps supported with a pillow under your top leg to keep your pelvis aligned."
This answer was written for Birth by midwife Melissa Maimann from Essential Birth Consulting.
Read more about pregnancy sleep
Last revised: Thursday, 3 January 2013
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.