Pregnancy sleeping positions. What you need to know!

A big thank you to P2B’s resident Woman’s Health Physiotherpists from Chevron Island Physiotherpy who have taken the time to share their knowledge with us!  Sleeping in pregnancy can be tricky at the best of times, but what are the safest positions for you and Bub?

How can I sleep during pregnancy?

There is NO DIFFERENCE laying on your LEFT or RIGHT hand side in all stages of pregnancy! (Cronin et al 2019) 

So if you have just been laying on your left side I hope you have a much better sleep tonight on your right. 

But what about laying on your back?

4 published studies from New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom now show that women who go to sleep lying on their backs after 28 weeks have an increased risk of stillbirth, that is independent of other stillbirth risk factors.


When a healthy mother lies on her back (supine) in late pregnancy the uterus compresses the main abdominal vein [inferior vena cava] reducing blood flow by >80%.

The aorta is also partially compressed by the pregnant uterus with an approximate 30% reduction in flow.


The mother ‘s circulatory system compensates for this reduction in blood flow when lying on her back by increasing blood flow back to the heart through collateral veins below the obstruction and increasing her heart rate. 

However, this does not fully maintain optimum blood flow so this is why we recommend not to do it.

The baby also responds by acutely reducing blood flow by conserving oxygen consumption.


1. You can sleep on both sides 

2. Don’t sleep on your back 

3. If you wake up on your back don’t panic it’s okay just go back onto your side

4. The mother and the baby can compensate so there is no emergency but we want to prevent laying on our back

We also recommend that you see a women’s health physiotherapist so we can assess you as in individual and answer more specific questions.  If you need help call our clinic 55047000. At Chevron Island Physio we are lucky enough to have five physio’s with a special interest in Women’s Health. Alison, Georgia, Amy, Hannah Gill are here to help.

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