- Stillbirths are a common occurrence, with around 1 in 227 births in
the UK ending in stillbirth.
- Lying on the back during the third trimester increases the risk of still birth.
- The baby's heart rate changes and the oxygen intake is reduced, posing a risk of still birth.
Pregnant women must be cautious about their sleeping position or even lying down position. Mothers who lie on their backs in the third trimester may be
increasing the risk of stillbirth, according to a study published in The Journal of Physiology
Researchers at the University of Auckland have found that lying faceup while pregnant can change the baby's heart rate and activity state
which suggests that the fetus adapts by reducing its oxygen consumption. This finding may explain the increased risk of stillbirth in the supine
(lying upwards) position.
‘Maternal position is important for the baby's health, but it was unclear as to how this can affect the wellbeing of the fetus.’
Recent studies have shown that maternal
position is important for the baby's health, but it was unclear as to
how this can affect the wellbeing of the fetus. This research reports
that lying on your back can add stress and may reduce oxygen provided to
the fetus, increasing the risk of stillbirth.
The researchers monitored the fetal and maternal heart rate for 29
healthy pregnant women in the third trimester while changing and
maintaining maternal positions for 30 minutes at a time. The 'fetal
behavioural state', a measure of fetal health, was recorded for each
maternal position. Each woman was followed until delivery and all babies
were born in a healthy condition.
Peter Stone, Professor of Maternal Fetal medicine at the University
of Auckland and lead investigator of the study explained, "Our
controlled study found that lying on your back can add extra stress to
the baby, contributing to the risk of stillbirth. The risk is likely to
be increased further in women with underlying conditions."