Women who sleep on their backs during the later stages of pregnancy are almost four times more likely to experience a stillbirth, according to a new study.
Researchers from Auckland University found that pregnant women – post 28 weeks – who went to sleep lying on their back had a 3.7 increase in overall risk of late stillbirth.
“Our findings make sense as lying on the back in late pregnancy is associated with physical effects that can compromise the baby’s wellbeing,” lead researcher Professor Lesley McCowan told Auckland University’s website.
“These include a reduction in the mother’s cardiac output (the amount of blood pumped by the heart per minute), a reduced blood flow to the uterus, and lower oxygen levels in the baby,” she added.
Researchers in New Zealand have called for public health education to encourage women to go to sleep on their side in the last three months of pregnancy.
“The good news is that the position women go to sleep in can be changed,” said Professor McCowan.
In Australia, there are around 2,200 stillbirths each year, according to Red Nose.
Stillbirth Foundation Australia General Manager, Victoria Bowring, said more can be done to prevent stillbirth and all expectant mums should be aware of the new research.
“This is a significant finding, which shines a light on the fact that stillbirth can be prevented,” said Bowring.
“Too many families in Australia lose a child to stillbirth and we must ensure all expectant mums know what can be done to reduce the risk," she added.
To find out about stillbirth and donate to the Stillbirth Foundation visit stillbirthfoundation.org.au
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