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How Pregnant Women Lie Down May Affect The Health Of Their Babies Including Risks of Stillbirth

Update Date: Nov 24, 2016 07:00 AM EST

A study suggests that how pregnant women lie down may have an effect on the health of their babies. Women lying on their back during the third trimester of their pregnancy have been found to increase the risk of stillbirth as compared to women who lie on their left side.

A recent study has found a link between maternal positions and fetal health. Researchers say that there may also be a link between maternal positions and stillbirth.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has never fully explained the cause of stillbirth because of several contributing factors at play. Stillbirth may be brought by birth defects, issues with the placenta or umbilical cord and health problems of the mother.

Stillbirth occurs in 1 percent of American pregnancies, which may seem minimal but not when totaled to 24,000 cases each year as reported in Medical Daily. A group of researchers led by Professor Peter Stone of the University of Auckland in New Zealand conducted a study with the aim of understanding stillbirths by studying maternal positions.

The New Zealand researchers studied 29 pregnant women in their third trimester by asking them to lie down using different kinds of positions for 30 minutes. The results revealed that there is a difference in the fetus' activity and heart rate as reported in Medical News Today.

When women lie down on their backs, the fetus heart rate slows down and the activity is described as being in a sleep-state. When women lie on their left, heart rate is fast and normal with the fetus more actively kicking and moving.

The findings suggest that maternal positions do have an effect on the babies. When the mother lies down on her back, her position compresses the veins in her heart that could minimize blood circulation and oxygen flow to the fetus. When lying on the left side, oxygen is at its optimal level and not obstructed.

Researchers say that oxygen flow may be a vital element in understanding the primary cause of stillbirth. Stone admits that they need more thorough research since the subjects were awake when tested. He wants to look at sleeping positions of pregnant women and its effect on fetal health in subsequent studies.

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