According to New Zealand research, the risk of stillbirth increases if a woman gives birth in the supine position (lying on her back).
Researchers from the University of Auckland found that lying face up changes the baby’s activity and heart rate.
29 healthy pregnant women, who were in the third trimester of their pregnancy, took part in the study.
The women were required to lay in four positions – left lateral, right lateral, supine and semi-recumbent. Each woman changed and maintained positions every 30 minutes.
Commenting on the research, Louise Silverton from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: “We have known for a long time that blood pressure is reduced where [sic] a woman is lying on her back. Many women will say that they don’t lie on their backs as they feel “funny” when they do.
“Women are not advised to sleep on their backs. Also, it is known that, when in labour, moving a woman to her left hand side may improve the fetal heart rate trace.”
Authors concluded that “in healthy late gestation pregnancy, maternal position affects FBS and heart rate variability. These effects are likely fetal adaptions to positions which may produce a mild hypoxic stress.”
An abstract of the study ‘Effect of maternal position on fetal behavioural state and heart rate in healthy late gestation pregnancy’ can be found in the Wiley Online Library here.
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