So we've all heard the "don't lay on your back when you're pregnant" advice, but so often we're just told that, not really the why. The reason folks are advised not to lay on their backs during pregnancy is because when you are flat on your back there is the possibility of the uterus pressing on the inferior vena cava which is a vein that carries deoxygenated blood back to the heart. Prolonged pressure on this vein can cause issues for mama and potentially cause issues for the fetus. But what's the deal here really? Do we stop laying on our backs as soon as we conceive? Can we still do yoga poses on our backs?
So I really can't lie on my back?
The answer is yes...and no. What we're worried about is putting pressure on the vena cava, this won't happen when baby is the size of a peanut. The concern is when baby IS big enough to put pressure on the vena cava so its generally not till late in the 2nd trimester when this can become an issue.
That being said, small amounts of time on your back are perfectly fine and will happen naturally during your sleep most likely. The caution is around more extended periods of time on the back particularly late in your pregnancy.
The great thing is you can lie on your back if you have a small lift either under your pelvis or under your shoulders (one or the other not both). You can accommodate this by lying with a folded blanket or a pillow under the hips or laid back at incline with the head, shoulders and upper back propped up on a pillow or bolster.
If you're at all concerned about any time on your back, know that your body will give you feedback if there is pressure on the vena cava. This might show up in the form of nausea or dizziness and if you experience either of these while laying on your back (props or not), come to sit up immediately.
How to make yoga poses safe
In prenatal yoga classes, teachers should be very mindful of keeping the time on the back limited. If considerable time is spent on the back poses should be supported with the a folded blanket or bolster under the hips.
In addition, here are a few poses that are safe poses on the back during pregnancy:
Wisdom and insight with a dash of humor to help guide you on your journey through motherhood.