Going to sleep

In later pregnancy (after 28 weeks), it’s safer to go to sleep on your side than on your back

When you’re asleep, you spend most time in the position you go to sleep in. For pregnant women, the blood flow going to the baby may be reduced or interrupted if they spend a long time lying on their back. Research has linked this with an increased risk of stillbirth

The causes aren’t clear, but it may be that:

  • the weight of the baby and uterus (womb) puts pressure on the woman’s blood vessels if she lies on her back, which reduces the flow of the blood back to her heart and also to the baby, or
  • the woman has disturbed breathing during the night, which worsens if she sleeps on her back

When you go to sleep or have a day-time nap

  • Settle on your side, rather than on your back
  • If you wake up on your back, don’t worry, just roll onto your side again
More information

Stillbirth after 28 weeks of pregnancy happens in about 3 in every 1000 pregnancies. The Midlands and North of England Stillbirth Study, which is the largest to look at the effect of sleeping position, found that women who went to sleep on their back after 28 weeks of pregnancy were 2.3 times more likely to have a stillborn baby than women who went to sleep on their side

You can read the scientific paper on the Midlands and North of England Stillbirth Study here 

The charity Sands has a summary of the study here 

The charity Tommy’s has produced a short film about going to sleep on your side in later pregnancy