Risk Of Stillbirth Doubled By Sleeping On Your Back, Study Says

Ebony Scott
November 22, 2017

If you wake during the night, check your position and go back to sleep on your side.

The team interviewed 1024 women from 41 maternity hospitals across the United Kingdom - 291 of them had a stillbirth late in the pregnancy, and 733 had a live-born baby.

New research has found that a link between sleeping position and the risk of stillbirth, and advises women not to sleep on their back during the late stages of pregnancy.

Beyond urging women to sleep on their side, the researchers can't determine why sleeping on one's back during the third trimester doubles the risk of stillbirth.

The study did not investigate how sleeping positions were impacting on the unborn baby but the researchers suggest a number of theories.

The reasons are unclear, but some possibilities might be that the weight of the baby and womb might but pressure on the blood supply to the uterus, which could cause problems, according to a press release from the pregnancy charity Tommy's, which launched its #sleeponside campaign after the results were published to educate expectant mothers on the benefits of sleeping on their side.

This can restrict blood flow and oxygen to the baby.

Other possible explanations include disturbed breathing during sleep, which is worse when a woman sleeps on her back and in overweight or obese women, who also have an increased risk of stillbirth.

Then working in New Zealand she said more research was needed to confirm her findings.

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Heazell says he wasn't completely surprised by the results because previous studies have found similar conclusions. This latest research is the largest investigation of the observation to date. Stillbirth is the birth of a baby who is born without any signs of life at or after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), added: "This addition to current knowledge is very welcome".

"It's a simple change that can make a difference and it will be important to ensure this is communicated effectively to women".

The position women fall asleep in is most crucial, according to the researchers, but they shouldn't worry about waking on their backs.

Other sleep behaviours associated with late stillbirth included short and long sleep duration on the last night, getting up to the toilet only once or not at all on the last night, and daytime napping every day.

Sleeping on your back while pregnant does not influence a baby's size or the length of a woman's gestation.

When such women sleep on their backs, their babies are less active than when they nod off on their side.

Now, a new study from the United Kingdom called the Midlands and North of England Stillbirth Study suggests that expectant mothers may be able to halve their chances of experiencing a stillbirth by making sure they fall asleep on their side instead of in another position.

Other reports by GizPress

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