Pregnant women who are in their last trimester are advised to sleep on their side and not their backs to reduce the risk of stillbirths.
This advice is from a study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG), which said women who sleep on their backs have at least twice the risk of a stillbirth more than those who sleep on their left side.
The findings are based on a Midlands and North of England Stillbirth Study (MiNESS).
The research suggests pregnant women who sleep in various positions should try laying on their sides when ready to sleep because most time is spent in the position one goes to sleep in.
Researchers interviewed 291 women who had stillbirths and 733 women who were delivered of healthy kids in 41 UK maternity units.
Mothers of twins or those who had babies with major abnormalities were not included.
They found that mothers who slept on their backs had a 2.3 fold increased risk of stillbirth compared to pregnant women who went to sleep on their left-hand side.
The research also found that the link between going-to-sleep position and late stillbirth was not affected by the duration of pregnancy after 28 weeks, the size of the baby, or the mother’s weight.
“We’re pleased we can now give pregnant women a simple message they can act on for a safer pregnancy: if you’re past 28 weeks of pregnancy, it’s safer for your baby if you go to sleep on your side rather than settling to sleep on your back,” Clea Harmer, CEO at Sands, stillbirth and neonatal death charity, said in a statement.
Women who visited the toilet once or more every night were also found to have a reduced risk of stillbirth.
Researchers say one theory is that in late pregnancy, the combined weight of the baby and the womb may compress blood vessels and restrict blood flow and oxygen to the foetus.
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