Should pregnant women be urged to sleep on their left side? A small study of 155 women in Auckland, New Zealand who gave birth to a stillborn baby between July 2006 and June 2009 after twenty-eight weeks of pregnancy and a control group of 310 women with ongoing pregnancies found a link between stillbirth and sleeping on the back or right side, daytime sleeping, and sleeping longer than average at night.
Researchers also investigated a possible link between snoring and daytime sleepiness. Only laying on the back or right side, daytime sleeping, and sleeping longer than average at night were implicated in the link to an increased risk of stillbirth. Women who got up frequently during the night also had lower rates of stillbirth.
The hypothesis is that sleeping in a position other than on the left side or laying down for longer periods of time through the day restrict blood flow to the uterus. Restricted blood flow is though to increase the risk for fetal death and stillbirth.
However, researchers caution pregnant women not to draw any firm conclusions. The initial study was too small to conclude any real link between sleep position and stillbirth. As Lucy Chappell, a lecturer in maternal and fetal medicine at King’s College London warns, “A forceful campaign urging pregnant women to sleep on their left side is not yet warranted.”
Sleep position may affect stillbirth risk: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43402683/ns/health/#.Tn_BImrmtDY
Woman Sleeping on Right Side: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jackie_Martinez_in_B%26W_sleeping_with_a_book.jpg