Typical sleep positions in pregnant women

Early Hum Dev. 2014 Jun;90(6):315-7. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2014.03.001. Epub 2014 Mar 21.


Objective: Maternal supine posture in late pregnancy and labor is known to compromise maternal hemodynamics and subsequently affect the fetus. Recently, maternal supine sleep position during late pregnancy has been postulated to play a role in stillbirth. However, no objective data exist regarding how often pregnant women sleep supine. This study was therefore conducted to determine the proportion of pregnant women who spend time asleep in the supine position.

Methods: A secondary analysis of data from pregnant women who underwent home sleep studies.

Results: Of 51 pregnant women, mean gestational age 28.3±6.9weeks, the vast majority of women (82.4%) spent some time sleeping in the supine position. The median proportion of overall time spent in the supine sleep position was 26.5% (90%CI 0.0-82.9%).

Conclusion: Our data suggest that if supine position plays a role in stillbirth, most women may benefit from education regarding sleep position.

Practice implications: Most pregnant women spend time asleep on their back. Given the known data on supine posture and maternal cardiovascular compromise together with emerging data on supine sleep position and stillbirth, it may be pertinent for healthcare providers to provide pregnant women with information about sleep position particularly during late pregnancy.

Keywords: Polysomnography; Pregnancy; Sleep position; Supine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • Sleep*
  • Stillbirth
  • Supine Position