When we’re pregnant there are just some things we don’t like to think about, miscarriage and stillbirth are two of them. Maybe we think that if we don’t read about stillbirth, or talk about it, then we will somehow be protected, but the truth is: we have to have these conversations if we want to prevent tragedies occurring.
In Australia, more than 2000 babies are stillborn every year. That’s 1 in 135 pregnancies! We lag well behind other developed countries in reducing this figure. Most people are under the impression that stillbirth is random and unpredictable, but in actuality, there are very simple things we can do to prevent many stillbirths from happening.
Safe pregnancy sleeping positions: avoid sleeping on your back during the third trimester. | Image source: iStock
Safe pregnancy sleeping positions: Sleep on your side
When it comes to knowing what are the safe pregnancy sleeping positions, research released in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists (BJOG) has confirmed that if women sleep on their side during the third trimester, their risk of a late stillbirth is reduced.
These findings echo what was presented in earlier studies. This is the fourth research study (and the largest) to find a link between late stillbirth and maternal sleep position. It looked into 291 pregnancies that ended in stillbirth and 735 women who had a live birth. It found that women who go to sleep in the supine (lying on the back) position in the third trimester have a 2.3-fold increased risk of late stillbirth compared with women who go to sleep on their side. That’s a greater increased risk of late stillbirth than the risk caused by smoking (a 1.9-fold increased risk).
Sleeping on your back during the third trimester can cause the vena cava blood vessel to become compressed resulting in less circulation to your heart and your baby and can result in them losing oxygen.
Prevention, not fear tactics
Claire Foord, the founder of Still Aware, an Australian organisation dedicated to awareness and prevention of stillbirth, says that this information should empower women with knowledge, not panic them.
“It’s about settling to sleep on your side, it doesn’t matter if you wake up on your back, that’s not a cause for panic,” she said. “Rather, it just means, when you settle to go back to sleep again, settle to sleep once more on your side.”
Still Aware, along with a number of International organisations are launching the #SleeponSide campaign today, in an effort to spread the information as widely as possible.
Claire wants to start an open and informative conversation around stillbirth and the preventable factors that we might be unaware of.
“I think people are unaware of how prolific and common stillbirth is and I think that there is still a misconception that it if it happens, it is inevitable,” Claire said.
“But particularly in third-trimester stillbirths, the cause is often unknown, so it’s important to recognise the factors we can control and utilise them.”
Image source: iStock
Know your baby’s movements
While previous recommendations encouraged women to count their baby’s movements and kicks and seek help if there were less than a certain amount per hour, current guidelines suggest that you should instead get to know your individual baby’s movements and seek help if they seem unusual to you.
While there is a persistent myth that baby’s movements reduce as they “run out of room” this simply isn’t true, while you may feel the movement differently, slowing down towards the end of pregnancy is definitely not the norm.
“It’s about learning about who and how your baby is, just like we have people in life who are docile and like to lie by a pool reading a book, and on the other end of the spectrum, we have marathon runners, the same can be said for babies in the womb,” Claire explained.
The important thing, Claire says, is that rather than trying to measure a certain number of movements or compare your baby’s movements to anyone else’s, you should get to know your baby and realise what it is that makes them move, what types of movements and patterns are most common for them and what is out of the ordinary.
Image source: iStock
“Once you get to know your baby’s personality and the way they react to things, you can be more switched on to changes,” Claire explains. “If they are usually a little dancer and they suddenly aren’t dancing anymore, that is a reason to get checked straight away and not to wait. ”
“Or if your baby is a really docile baby who only usually moves four or so times an hour and then they suddenly start to move a hundred times in an hour, or they are moving in a way that is different to how they normally move and it scares you, that’s also reason for concern.”
Don’t be scared to share this information with a friend
“These are two simple things that can keep a baby safe in pregnancy,” Claire said.
“It’s not about scare tactics, it’s not about the fear associated with stillbirth, we’re actually promoting life and trying to save lives.
“It’s really important that these babies are given the best chance they have of survival because nobody ever wants to not bring their baby home, everybody goes into hospital expecting to bring home a happy healthy baby, we do not want people to have to say goodbye and hello at the same time.
“We want everyone to bring their babies home, which is why Still Aware exists, to predict and prevent stillbirths before they happen.”
Conversations about stillbirth are not something anybody wants to have, but the statistics show that we need to talk about it and spread this information far and wide. Share this story with every pregnant woman in your life, it could save lives.
This article was first published on KidSpot and republished on theAsianparent with permission.
Pregnant Women Can Reduce Risk Of Stillbirth By Sleeping On Their Side
Baby’s Movements Through Pregnancy: What’s Normal & What’s not?