Researchers evaluated 30 pregnant women and their fetuses to determine if sleeping on one’s back affects the baby. While the mother slept in different positions, the researchers evaluated fetal movement and heart rate. Fetal movement is one measure of well being. Baby’s in distress which can be caused by low oxygen levels move less than baby’s that are not in distress.
Researchers found that fetal movements decreased when women slept on their backs during the last trimester. “ A recent study of factors associated with late (third trimester) stillbirth described the importance of maternal sleep position where non-left-side sleeping, particularly supine, was found to be associated with an increased risk of stillbirth”.( Stacey et al. 2011)
Researchers believe sleeping on your left side takes pressure off the liver and major blood vessels that pass through the abdomen. For these reason, sleeping on your left side increases circulation to the placenta. When blood flows well to the placenta, plenty of nutrients and oxygen reach can the baby.
Here are a few tips to help you and baby sleep well:
- At 34 weeks gestation do not sleep on your back
- Because if is nearly impossible to monitor your sleep position and get a good night’s sleep, make yourself a sleep shirt. Details on how to make a sleep shirt are in an earlier post. To avoid any risk of infection, you might want to stick with using tennis balls.
- If you are pregnant during winter months, try sleeping with your feet in soaks
- A foot massage might help you drift off to sleep
- A back massage is wonderful when lower back muscles feel the strain of your beautifully growing belly.
- There is music composed specifically to help you sleep. You can find this type of music on You Tube or the internet
- To relieve hip discomfort place a pillow between your legs so that the pillow rest between your thighs and knees. You may need to adjust the size of the pillow until you find the perfect size height and length
- Practice good sleep hygiene. For tips on sleep hygiene look at my earlier post
- Do not take B vitamins at bedtime. Some B vitamins are energizing and can disturb your sleep
- If you take a calcium supplement take it just before heading to bed
Stacey T, Thompson J, Mitchell EA, Ekeroma AJ, Zuccollo JM & McCowan LME (2011). Association between maternal sleep position and risk of late stillbirth: a case control study. BMJ 342, d3403.