Late Stillbirths Linked to Sleep Position During Pregnancy "molly_darling" photostream.

New Study Explores Pregnancy Sleeping Position

A new study published in New Zealand shows a very slight link between mom’s sleep position and the risk of having a late stillbirth.  While this risk is only very slightly increased, most parents would agree that any step they can take to prevent having a baby be stillborn would be worth it.

The study examined a woman’s sleep habits, including what positions she slept in, how frequently she woke at night to use the bathroom, how long she slept at night and whether she slept during the day as well.  Most of the behaviors, including snoring and daytime sleepiness, had no significant impact on the risk of late stillbirth, but there were two factors that did.

Not on the Back or Right, Correct?

It is known that lying on the back or the right side during pregnancy does reduce blood flow to the baby.  This is because it causes the baby to put pressure on the vena cava, a large blood vessel that runs along the right side of mom’s body and supplies the placenta and baby.  This pressure is alleviated when mom lie on her left side.  For this reason, it’s recommended that mom sleep on her left side, with her knees bent and her legs, knees, back and/or abdomen supported by pillows.

It can also be helpful to prop up the upper body on pillows to reduce discomfort from heartburn or shortness of breath, both of which are common in late pregnancy. It is okay to change positions frequently through the night.

Other Sleeping Positions

Other sleeping positions, like lying on the back or the right side, can put baby at risk of decreased blood flow and are dangerous if used for long periods of time.  Sleeping on the stomach is, of course, very uncomfortable and not recommended either.

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