All parents want to do the very best they can to keep their babies safe and well. For quite some time the advice to pregnant mums has been to sleep on the side and we now have solid research that backs this.
From 28 weeks – the last three months of pregnancy – women are encouraged to start their sleep lying on their side and not on their back. The research shows that it doesn’t matter if it is on the right side or the left side, as long as it’s not on the back. Of course sometimes mums find themselves on their back, and the message then is to roll back onto the side and go back to sleep. Why start sleep on your side? Generally the deepest sleep is the first sleep, so by starting on the side you’re more likely to have the majority of yours sleep in this safer position.
Parents Centre, along with a number of other key stakeholders, are part of an advisory group developing resources and a campaign to disseminate these messages to pregnant mums and their family and friends.
Tiredness during pregnancy is a common complaint and it’s not surprising; growing a human being requires a lot of energy, especially if you’re trying to live life as your did pre-pregnancy. Getting comfortable for a good night’s sleep during pregnancy can be a challenge. Here are a few tips:
- There are some excellent pregnancy pillows available for sale, or use normal bed pillows to encourage side sleep – put a pillow between your knees to reduce backache, and a pillow at the small of your back can help prevent your from rolling onto your back; but it might mean there’s little room left in the bed for your partner, let alone the cat who might want to sneak into the bed too!
- Ensure you have had plenty of fluids, particularly water during the day, despite the frequent need for loo stops!
- Exercise each day – a swim or a walk are great ways to exercise during pregnancy.
- Reduce stress and anxiety – seek professional advice if this is difficult to resolve yourself.
- Adopt visualisation and relaxation techniques.
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol.
- Listen to your body and take a power nap when you feel the need.
- Go to bed and turn out the lights when you’re tired, not once the movie has finished, or after you’ve read “just one more chapter”!
Recent research studies in New Zealand, Australia, Ghana and the UK have demonstrated that women who go to sleep lying on their backs after 28 weeks of pregnancy have an approximate threefold increase in risk of stillbirth. Public awareness campaigns have been launched in the UK and Australia to advise women to settle to sleep on their side in the last three months of pregnancy. Here in New Zealand we are also developing a public awareness campaign with funding from Curekids and endorsement from the Ministry of Health.
A NZ advisory group has been convened with national representation from relevant stakeholders, including Liz Pearce, Pregnancy, Childbirth and Parent Education Manager from Parents Centre (and Kapiti Parents Centre’s very own Childbirth Educator for Antenatal classes).
“It is enormously important we provide parents with correct, research-based information,” says Liz. “It is an honour to be part of this advisory group as we work together to further support parents to keep their baby healthy and safe.”
The following link will take you to the campaign website where you will find for resources on this topic; www.sleeponside.org.nz
Sourced From: Vicki Culling