with 6 Comments

The placenta acts as a transport for the infant’s nutritional and oxygen needs. Sometimes a baby can get by okay if the placenta is not functioning well during pregnancy.


However, during labor, a dysfunctional placenta can cause problems that may decrease a mother’s options.  While we can’t prevent every problem that may arise, there are some things a woman can do to help increase her chances of helping to increase blood flow to baby and having a healthy placenta.

For more information on how to have a healthy pregnancy, watch some of our exercise videos we’ve compiled.

Current leaders in placental research argue that the placenta is one of the most important organs.  It provides protection, nurishment, and removes waste.

“It influences not just the health of a woman and her fetus during pregnancy, but also the lifelong health of both mother and child”-David H. Weinberg PhD

Steps to Increase Blood Flow to Baby

  1. Make the choice to stop smoking.  Some research has shown that smoking may impair the exchange of oxygen in the placenta.  This could lead to more difficulties with the placenta and baby.
  2. Do your best to control any medical conditions related to oxygenation.  These may include things such as asthma, allergies, diabetes, or infections.
  3. Make sure that a routine is in place to help reduce anxiety and stress.
  4. Natural movement exercises will help to increase blood flow to the placenta, specifically exercises to release the psoas and walking.  These help to increase the uterine blood flow, which helps keep the placenta functioning well.
  5. Spend some time deep breathing to help with relaxation.  Stress and anxiety decrease the blood flow to the uterus and uteroplacental blood flow.
  6. Stay hydrated.  Dehydration can affect the oxygenation through the placenta.
  7. Stay off your back in later pregnancy.  The larger uterus may press on the vena cava that returns blood from the lower half of the body.  This in turn may create change in blood pressure that can affect oxygenation to the uterus and the placenta.

For More Information on Pregnancy and Childbirth, Sign Up for Access to Our Childbirth Library. 


Human Placenta Project, NIH
Maternal cigarette smoking: the effects on umbilical and uterine blood flow velocity.

The Influence of Maternal Cigarette Smoking on Placental Pathology in Pregnancies Complicated by Abruption

Alterations of Placental Vascular Function in Asthmatic Pregnancies

Asthma and Pregnancy: A Review

Physiology of the Placent-Gas Exchange

The Effects of Decreasing Maternal Anxiety on Fetal Oxygenation and Nucleated Red Blood Cells Count in the Cord Blood

Maternal and fetal effects of the supine and pelvic tilt positions in late pregnancy

Follow Rachel Leavitt:

Rachel has worked as a register nurse (BSN from University of Utah) since 2004 with a work history in Labor and Delivery, NICU and Postpartum Care. She is also the founder of New Beginnings Doula Training which she organized in 2011. When she's not busy being a mother and grandmother, she can be found reading research papers related to some aspect of childbirth.

6 Responses

  1. subhana kerung
    | Reply

    Low placenta

  2. Amanda
    | Reply

    The Vena Cava returns deoxygenated blood. It does not supply blood. Arteries supply, veins return.

    • Rachel Leavitt
      | Reply

      You’re right, I worded this wrong. It has to do with alterations of blood pressure and the effects that has on oxygenation to the placenta. In reality, the mechanisms by which the supine position affects oxygenation to the growing fetus is not well understood, but we do know it happens. What I stated above is the current theory of why these changes occur. I’ll correct the wording to reflect the association with blood pressure and oxygenation though. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

  3. Leslie
    | Reply

    Very helpful information . Thank you all for sharing and caring ❤️

  4. Simran
    | Reply

    Hi I just get to know, my Baby is behind say around 2-3 weeks. I am at week 23 but they are measuring baby for 17+4 to 20+ 3 .
    Baby weight shud be 500 GM’s by now but it’s only 363.
    Can you plz suggest is there a way to improve placenta blood flow and help the baby to grow properly.

    • Samantha Kitchel
      | Reply

      Hi Simran, this blog is a suggested way to help blood flow get to baby, however if you are worried about the health of your baby you should speak to your health care provider right away.

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