Although doctors recommend that pregnant women sleep on their left side, a new study suggests that sleeping in other positions is not a problem, Reuters reported.
Researchers examined data from 8,709 pregnant women who completed a sleep questionnaire before the 30-week deadline. Overall, 1903 women, or 22%, experienced serious complications, such as dangerously high blood pressure, stillbirth, or a small newborn for their gestational age.
The study showed that women who slept on their right side or on their back were no more prone to serious complications than women who slept on their left.
These results should reassure many pregnant women who are worried that they can harm their baby if they sleep on their backs or move into this position at night, said Dr. Robert Silver, lead author of the study.
“Some women may have trouble sleeping on their left side and they cannot control movement during sleep,” Silver added. “Even with careful messaging, there is potential to increase anxiety in women who wake up on their backs and guilt, shame and self-blame in women suffering adverse pregnancy outcomes such as stillbirth.”
Previous studies have linked sleeping on the back or right side with an increased risk of serious pregnancy complications because these positions can constrict the blood vessels supplying the uterus.
In the current study, women had serious complications in cases of overweight or obesity, smoking, high blood pressure or diabetes. The position during sleep did not affect the risk of complications.
“Pregnant women should sleep in the position that they find most comfortable,” Fox, who co-wrote an editorial accompanying the study, said by email. “For the few that do experience complications of pregnancy they should be reassured that it was not due to their sleeping position.”