Is supine exercise associated with adverse maternal and fetal outcomes? A systematic review
British Journal of Sports Medicine
URL with Digital Object Identifier
Objective Theoretical concerns regarding the supine position at rest due to the gravid uterus obstructing aorta and vena caval flow may impinge uterine blood flow (UBF) to the fetus and maternal venous return. Design Systematic review. Data sources Online databases up to 11 December 2017. Study criteria Eligible population (pregnant without contraindication to exercise), intervention (frequency, intensity, duration, volume or type of supine exercise), comparator (no exercise or exercise in left lateral rest position, upright posture or other supine exercise), outcomes (potentially adverse effects on maternal blood pressure, cardiac output, heart rate, oxygen saturation, fetal movements, UBF, fetal heart rate (FHR) patterns; adverse events such as bradycardia, low birth weight, intrauterine growth restriction, perinatal mortality and other adverse events as documented by study authors), and study design (except case studies and reviews) published in English, Spanish, French or Portuguese. Results Seven studies (n=1759) were included. 'Very low' to 'low' quality evidence from three randomised controlled trials indicated no association between supervised exercise interventions that included supine exercise and low birth weight compared with no exercise. There was 'very low' to 'low' quality evidence from four observational studies that showed no adverse events in the mother; however, there were abnormal FHR patterns (as defined by study authors) in 20 of 65 (31%) fetuses during an acute bout of supine exercise. UBF decreased (13%) when women moved from left lateral rest to acute dynamic supine exercise. Conclusion There was insufficient evidence to ascertain whether maternal exercise in the supine position is safe or should be avoided during pregnancy.