I am repeatedly hearing women state that they must not sleep on their backs and are really concerned because they wake up on their back and have somehow harmed their unborn baby. I have been meaning to write about this for sometime but the straw that broke the camels back for me was a couple of days ago when a new client told me her previous midwife had told her not to back sleep or she could suffocate her baby!
Goodness me how on earth did our human race survive this treacherous journey called pregnancy and child birth? In one breathe we tell women they are not ill but going through a life event then we give them a whole list of what they must and must not do, places they must not go, things they must not eat and now which way to even sleep!
Rest assured dear sisters you can sleep how ever you feel most comfortable and you will do yourself or your baby no harm at all. In fact truth be known the worry of trying to sleep in a position you are self imposing on your body and the subsequent lack of sleep due to be less than comfortable will do you more harm.
On thinking long and hard I do believe that this myth has come about through a small grain of fact that has grown into huge Chinese whisper. In my opinion the myth has grown from the early days of dense paralysing epidurals and woman being left for hours alone in labour and on their backs.
It is true that there are huge oxygen carrying blood vessels in the lower back that if squashed by a heavy baby filled uterus did in the past lead to out of breath mothers who, due to the paralysis of an epidural were unable to move and the consequence was oxygen deprived babies. Once it was realised this was happening women were placed on their sides with a pillow wedged under them so they did not roll onto their backs, following administration of an epidural block.
These days epidurals are nowhere near so dense and most woman can move themselves around in the bed once it has been administered and can easy change position with minimal help.
As for a non labouring pregnant women, well that is whole different story because if she does happen to be squashing those all important blood vessels the first thing she will feel is a lack of oxygen which will lead to her feeling breathless and she will wake up and move! The baby will not suffer in any way. The human race has mechanisms to help us survive and will not allow us quietly suffocate ourselves (or our growing babies) in our sleep.
So sleep, pregnant women, however it suits your comfort.