Safe Sleep in Pregnancy

Five scientific studies have shown that a woman's sleeping position during pregnancy can affect her chance of having a stillborn baby.

Safe sleep in pregnancy - #SleepOnSide

In the past five  years there have been five scientific studies across five countries about women's sleeping position during pregnancy.  These studies have shown that that women who go to sleep on their back have a higher chance of having a stillborn baby compared women who go to sleep in another position.

In these studies, the chance of having a stillborn baby ranged between 2.5 to 8 times greater for women who went to sleep on their back. The research suggests that 1 in 10 stillbirths occurring in late pregnancy (after 28 weeks' gestation) could potentially be avoided if women did not go to sleep on their back during this time.

More research will be necessary to work out the best ways of comfortably avoiding back sleeping, and also how avoiding going to sleep on the back affects other pregnancy outcomes.

In the meantime, women are being advised to settle to sleep on their side for any episode of sleep, including:

  • Going to sleep at night
  • Returning to sleep after any awakenings
  • Day time naps

Please contact your midwife or doctor if you are concerned about your sleep position or pregnancy.

 


References:

Heazell A, Li M, Budd J et al, 2017, Going-to-sleep supine is a modifiable risk factor for late stillbirth – findings from the Midlands and North of England Stillbirth Case-Control Study TBC

Stacey T, Thompson JM, Mitchell EA et al, 2011, Association between maternal sleep practices and risk of late stillbirth: a case-control study. BMJ. 2011 Jun 14;342:d3403. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d3403.

Gordon A1, Raynes-Greenow C, Bond D et al, 2015, Sleep position, fetal growth restriction, and late-pregnancy stillbirth: the Sydney stillbirth study. Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Feb;125(2):347-55. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000000627.

McCowan LME, Thompson JMD, Cronin RS et al, 2017, Going to sleep in the supine position is a modifiable risk factor for late pregnancy stillbirth; Findings from the New Zealand multicentre stillbirth case-control study. PLOS One https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0179396