By Jo Everill-Taylor – Managing Director, Better Body Training

Heard of Supine Hypotensive Syndrome? Find out here all you need to know to deal with this during your pregnancy.

We all know we need to modify exercise during pregnancy, not least to accommodate the baby bump! But did you know that you need to ensure you feel well and happy whilst lying on your back? During the 2ndand 3rd trimesters women can sometimes suffer from Supine Hypotensive Syndrome.

  • The weight of the uterus on aorta and vena cava may cause supine hypotensive syndrome (fainting when lying on back).
  • Supine hypotensive syndrome (also referred to as inferior vena cava compression syndrome) is caused when the gravid uterus compresses the inferior vena cava.
  • Up to 8% of women in the 2ndand 3rdtrimesters of pregnancy can be affected (Lanni et al., 2002).
  • Symptoms usually occur within 3–10 minutes after lying down (Kinsella and Lohmann, 1994).
  • Symptoms include pallor, dizziness, low blood pressure, sweating, nausea and increased heart rate.

The good news is that these are transient symptoms which easily resolve with a position change, such as leftward tilt of the pelvis or rolling over onto the left side. 

  • If you feel that you have been affected but still want to lie on your back to exercise, then you can try a modified position using support for your neck/upper back; semi supine.
  • This is easily achieved in class by using a large pillow under the shoulder blades or even a special wedge-shaped cushion.

So next time you head off to class don’t forget to take a large pillow with you!