Sleeping on back in late pregnancy ups risk of stillbirth
Washington D.C. [U.S.A.], October 13 : Beware mommies-to-be! You may try to sleep on your left or right side as sleeping on back during late pregnancy may increase the risk of stillbirth, according to a new research.
This is the first study to monitor unborn babies overnight and at the same time, record the mother's position during sleep.
The sleep position of women in late pregnancy has been shown to be related to an increased risk of late stillbirth (after 28 weeks gestation).
Lead investigator Peter Stone, from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, said, "In the situation where the baby may not be healthy, such as those with poor growth, the baby may not tolerate the effect of maternal back sleeping."
"We are suggesting that there is now sufficient evidence to recommend mothers avoid sleeping on their back in late pregnancy, not only because of the epidemiological data but also because we have shown it has a clear effect on the baby," Stone added.
The team investigated the sleep position of pregnant women by setting up an infrared video camera to record their position as they slept.
The team involved 30 pregnant women at 34-38 weeks gestation and all of them were healthy with healthy babies.
The researchers are now investigating pregnancies where the foetus is not growing properly or the mother has reported decreased foetal movements, as both situations have been associated with an increased risk of stillbirth.
They continuously recorded the heart rate of the women and foetus overnight using an ECG device.
The results suggested that when the mother slept on her back, the foetus was less active.
Foetal activity is one measure of its wellbeing. Foetuses were only in an active state when the mother was on her left or right side.
When the mother changed position during sleep, for example from her left side to sleeping on her back, the baby quickly changed activity state and became quiet or still.
The research appeared in the Journal of Physiology.