Recently Tommy's, the baby charity, released the results of a very interesting study- the findings of which have concluded that there is a link between women sleeping on their backs during the third trimester of pregnancy and stillbirth. The study has prompted the charity to launch the #SleepOnSide campaign to raise awareness and help to educate mums-to-be on the steps they can take to reduce the risks. While we know that pregnancy can be a daunting time with so many rules and guidelines coming from so many angles, we do believe that being informed is key; knowledge is power after all. Here's a really quick guide to safer sleep for mums-to-be, as per the research from Tommy's.
The #SleepOnSide campaign calls for women to be aware of the research and the links found between lying on the back for sleep and stillbirth. The Midlands and England Stillbirth Study found that if women were to sleep on their side during the third trimester around 130 stillbirths could be prevented per year. That's a 3.7% decrease on current figures.
Of course, the study's findings can only guide you on what the experts believe to be the safest position for you to sleep in, and there is more than theory as to why the risks are reduced if you sleep on your side. Scientists believe that when you sleep on your back you are putting an increased weight on the main blood vessels that supply the uterus, and this can result in restricted blood flow and oxygen to the baby. There is also the possibility of sleeping on the back affecting breathing during sleep.
The report concluded that sleeping on your side can reduce these risks.
What you can do
First of all, don't panic. The position that you adopt to fall asleep in is the one that you will stay in for the longest during sleep, so always go to sleep on your side. If you wake up on your back simply roll over again. As with anything during pregnancy, if you're concerned then do speak to your midwife- and if you notice any changes in your baby's movement, again speak to your midwife. Never feel that you're being 'silly' or that you're wasting time. You know your body and your baby best, so if you're not sure then call.
Sleeping during pregnancy and especially in the last three months is never easy! But there are things that you can do to get as comfortable as possible. Put a pillow behind your back to encourage side sleeping and during the day pay attention to your sleep positioning too. For further information, visit the Tommy's website.