The position in which women sleep on the last night of their pregnancy is related to their risk of still birth, say researchers.
The report authors said that women who do not go to sleep on their left side on their last night of pregnancy appeared to have twice the risk of late stillbirth compared to those who sleep on their left side.
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The study findings showed the risk of late stillbirth for women who went to sleep on their left was 1.96 per 1,000, compared to 3.93 per 1,000 for those who slept in any other position.
The research, published on bmj.com, also examined other factors, and discovered that women who got up to go to the toilet once or less on the last night of pregnancy, and those who regularly slept during the day late in pregnancy, were more likely to have a stillborn baby.
Tomasina Stacey, a PhD student from the University of Auckland, led the research and said stillbirth remains an important health issue with little progress in reducing rates over the last 20 years.
Daghni Rajasingam, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “This small scale study looks at another possible factor, however, more research is needed into sleep patterns before any firm conclusions over sleeping positions can be made.
“In the meantime, women should speak to their midwives if they are concerned.
“All new research into the causes of stillbirth are encouraging and are a step forward in understanding why they happen and improving stillbirth rates in the future.”
- Stacey T, et al. Association between maternal sleep practices and risk of late stillbirth: a case-control study. BMJ; advance online publication
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