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I have observed that in the seventh month when I lay down on the floor and turn right side (for a while), the baby starts kicking. Then when I turn on my back, the kickings decrease noticeably. Have observed this behavior many times.

Does this indicate that baby feels discomfort in my particular sleeping position?
What should be the ideal sleeping posture in the third trimester of pregnancy? I don't have a big belly yet nor do I sleep on my stomach.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

It is not, generally, recommended that pregnant women sleep on their back late in their pregnancies. Besides the fact that this increases the likelihood of heartburn, the weight of your growing uterus puts pressure on your aorta and vena cava which can restrict blood flow to both you and your baby. I've had at least one friend who almost passed out when she was lying on her back for an ultrasound because of restricted blood flow.

Sleeping on your left side is ideal as it increases the amount of nutrients that reach your placenta and, thus, your baby.

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Why on the left side and not on the right, what's the connection to nutrients? Also, does the location of the placenta affect this? – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 4 '13 at 14:28
I think that it's believed that sleeping on the left side puts less pressure on the vena cava as well. But some articles are now saying it doesn't really matter which side you sleep on, while at least one article I ran across said sleeping on the right can perhaps increase the chance of stillbirth. I think, though, when you're 9 months pregnant, the reality is that you can only sleep on one side for so long before you have to roll over and get comfortable again. FWIW, I broke my left shoulder when I was pg with my daughter and couldn't sleep on my left side at all, and she's fine. – Meg Coates Apr 4 '13 at 14:36
@TorbenGundtofte-Bruun Yesterday my Gynecologist explicitly told me to sleep on the left side to increase the amniotic fluid and blood flow for the child. :) – TheIndependentAquarius Apr 7 '13 at 6:16

Unless your ante-natal team tell you that you require a specific position in order to move your baby from an awkward position, then the guidance is to make sure you are comfortable yourself.

Your baby is very well protected and will be comfortable in many positions. If not, they will move to another position. Kicking is not a sign of the baby being uncomfortable, in fact it could be a sign that they have more room in that position.

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in fact it could be a sign that they have more room in that position. WOW! It never occurred to me! – TheIndependentAquarius Apr 4 '13 at 11:37

At least one study shows that sleeping on your left side is the position least associated with a stillbirth. Sleeping on your right side is less-preferrable, but more preferrable to sleeping on your back. Spending large amounts of time on your back during pregnancy is not recommended, although the overall rate of stillbirth remains low no matter what the maternal sleeping position is.

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The study is intriguing; sadly it doesn't propose any reasons why sleeping on the left side would be better. But it only covers less than 400 persons so it should probably not be considered absolutely reliable. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 4 '13 at 14:33
@TorbenGundtofte-Bruun - I agree that the study shouldn't be considered absolutely reliable, but I think it's worth pregnant women noting. Anecdotally I know that pregnant women are often told to switch which side they are lying on when their kids go into fetal distress (heart rate dropping) during labor and it makes a difference, but I don't know if that is labor specific. – justkt Apr 4 '13 at 15:19

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