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Can I exercise on my back whilst pregnant?


You are pregnant and heading towards trimester 2 and your doctor now tells you not to sleep on your back! But you've been a back sleeper your whole life - how will you cope?!? What if you wake up and you are on your back? What damage would you have done?!?


I've been there - the anxiety of waking and thinking on my goodness, how long was I like this for?!! I got up and went for a walk, had some water to wake baby up - sure enough, everything was fine. But I can tell you I did not get back to sleep that night (or basically any night) #anxiety


So why are we told not to sleep on our backs?

Or to not exercise lying on our backs past 16 weeks pregnant?


As the uterus grows in size, it becomes large enough to push on the Inferior Vena Cava.

The Inferior Vena Cava is a major blood vessel that brings blood back to your heart from your lower body. Restriction of blood flow may cause dizziness, heart palpitations and breathing issues for mother. And for baby, in one New Zealand Study, it found a higher incidence rate of stillbirth

HOWEVER, further research is needed on the topic for it to be conclusive about stillbirth. So please know it is not cause for panic if you wake up on your back. Just pop some pillows behind you so you are slightly angled onto your side for peace of mind.



As for exercise, the reason we have blanket statements like 'don't exercise on your back past 16 weeks' is that people may do a whole workout on their backs without the guidance of a coach or trainer (like myself).

Exercise causes exertion, raising the heart rate on an already stressed system. This places more potential pressure on the vena cava, having the mother experiencing the mentioned issues.


So blanket statements like this are totally necessary!


HOWEVER if under the guidance of an experienced pregnancy coach (like me) and they know what to look for, how to prescribe certain exercises, then yes, you can be on your back for an exercise.


For example, I prescribe hip bridges like the ones above in the picture, for glute and core strength. A short time at the beginning of the move is spent on our backs. We then lift our hips up off the ground and return back down. This maybe for say 10 reps, 3 x. Or a timed period like 45 seconds x2. For such a short amount of time, this is fine!

If a client still doesn't feel comfortable being on their backs, we can adjust with bolster or pillow under the bottom, change to standing exercise like RDL or supported hip thrusts.


I wouldn't do a full 45 minute workout on the back but a couple of exercises under the guidance of a qualified, educated pregnancy coach is ok.


I personally want fearless females. Responsible, yes. But also empowered Wahine who aren't scared to move, aren't scared of their bodies and aren't scared to go to sleep at night during their pregnancy!


I mean c'mon, how precious is sleep?!


In kindness,

Jess x





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