Sleep Position Unlikely to Harm Baby in Pregnancy

Pregnant women are often told to sleep on their left side to reduce the risk of stillbirth, but new research suggests they can choose whatever position is most comfortable through most of the pregnancy. “We can reassure women that through 30 weeks of pregnancy, different sleep positions are safe,” said chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Silver said the study didn’t include women past 30 weeks, so researchers can’t make any definitive statements about the last weeks of pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, you might find sleeping more difficult. Your larger size makes it harder to get comfortable or you might wake up with unexplained twinges or spasms. Your sleeping position affects both you and your baby’s health. While sleeping at a strange angle one night is unlikely to cause any health problems for your baby, prolonged sleeping on your front or right side can increase your risk of miscarriage.

Sleep Position Unlikely to Harm Baby in Pregnancy

Front Sleeping

After the first trimester, you’ll find it difficult to sleep on your stomach. Not only is it uncomfortable, it might be physically impossible as the weeks progress. As of July 2011, no scientific studies confirm the danger of sleeping on your front when pregnant. If you somehow manage to stay on your front, then you could risk damaging your child by putting additional pressure on her inside the womb. In serious cases, this could cause developmental problems or even miscarriage. However, this is rare as you’re so unlikely to end up on your front.

At the end of pregnancy, a woman’s uterus and the baby take up a large portion of the body. If a woman lies flat on her back during labor, it’s possible to compress blood vessels underneath. That could lead to decreased circulation and a drop in the baby’s heart rate. To counteract this, women are positioned slightly to the side, said Fox, who coauthored an editorial published with the study. Past researchers suspected that maybe a similar thing happens in women who have stillbirth, when a fetus dies in the womb. Previous studies asked women who’d had stillbirth to try to recall how they slept while pregnant. Those studies found a significant link between certain sleep positions, such as on the back, and stillbirth.