Pregnant women are being advised to sleep on their side in the third trimester, to cut the risk of stillbirth.
A study of just over 1,000 women, published by the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, found that the risk doubles if women go to sleep on their backs in the last three months of pregnancy. It’s thought that it puts pressure on blood vessels, which could restrict blood flow and oxygen to the baby.
In the UK, around one in 225 pregnancies end in stillbirth – that’s nine a day. In the study, 291 women had a stillbirth, while 735 had a live birth. It’s estimated that about 130 babies’ lives could be saved if expectant mothers go to sleep on their side.
Charity Tommy’s say that it doesn’t matter if you move about in your sleep – it’s falling asleep on your side that’s important. They advise putting a pillow behind you to prop yourself up when you go to bed, adjusting your position if you wake up in the night, and making sure to try sleep on your side if you nap during the day. There’s nothing to say whether your left or right side is better.
Edward Morris of BJOG told the BBC: “This is an important study which adds to the growing body of evidence that sleep position in late pregnancy is a modifiable risk factor for stillbirth.”
For support and information on stillbirth, visit the Tommy’s website, www.tommys.org