A large-scale British study has shown that sleeping on the back during pregnancy significantly increases the chance of stillbirth!
Pregnant women are twice as likely to have a stillborn baby as they sleep on their backs during the last three months of pregnancy!
British research into stillbirth
A large-scale study in pregnant women in England showed a 2.3-fold increase in the risk of a stillbirth in those who went to sleep on their backs in the third trimester. Just over 1000 women participated in the study. They looked at 291 pregnancies that ended in a stillbirth and 735 women with a normal birth.
Women are advised to sleep on their sides in the last three months of pregnancy to help prevent stillbirth!
In the Netherlands, 809 children were born dead in 2015 after a gestation period of 22 weeks or more. That is one in 208 births in the Netherlands. (Source: Public Health and Care)
About one in 225 pregnancies in the UK ends in a stillbirth. The researchers estimate that around 130 babies could be saved each year if women went to sleep on their side.
The MiNESS study, published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (BJOG), is the largest of its kind. The study confirms the same findings as smaller studies in New Zealand and Australia show.
Is waking up on the back a problem?
Researchers say that the position in which women fall asleep is the most important thing and that they should not worry if they lie on their back when they wake up.
What the researchers do not want is that women who wake up flat on their backs think 'oh my god, I did something terrible with my baby'.
Because the question they asked pregnant women during the study was very specific. Namely in which position women were lying down when falling asleep. It turns out that you spend more time in that sleep than the other sleeping postures. Waking up on the back does not have to mean much.
You can not do anything about the position in which you wake up, but you can do something about the position in which you are going to sleep!
Tips for sleeping on your side:
- Put a pillow or pillows behind your back to stimulate sleeping on the side or use this pregnancy pillow.
- If you wake up at night, pay attention to your sleeping position and lie on your side again.
- Also pay attention to your sleeping position during the day when you take an afternoon nap
- If you wake up on your back at night, you do not have to worry, just roll on your side.
- The British study found no difference between falling asleep on your right side or left side.
Tips from many pregnant women to sleep better: use a pregnancy pillow.
Relation on the back of sleep during pregnancy and stillbirth
Researchers can not say with certainty why sleeping on the back during pregnancy increases the risk of stillbirth. But there are data that suggest that when a woman is lying on her back, the combined weight of the baby and the uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels. This can endanger blood flow and oxygen to the baby.
The new study is an important study that contributes to the growing body of evidence that the sleeping position during late pregnancy is an influenceable risk factor for stillbirth.
Lying on your back during pregnancy can also cause you to suffer from nausea and dizziness, lying on your left side can prevent this. You can read more about it in the blog dizziness during pregnancy.