A New Zealand study found that if women slept on their left side on the night before they went into labor, they had a lower chance of stillbirth. The risk for those who slept on their left side was 1.96 per 1,000 births, and the rate was 3.93 per 1,000 births for all other positions. One possible explanation is that back or right side sleeping makes the fetus compress the mother's inferior vena cava, which takes blood back to the heart. This means less oxygen gets to the mother and baby's organs.
Lead author Tomasina Stacey, a midwifery lecturer at University of Auckland, tried to reduce the inevitable hysteria over sleep positions during pregnancy, saying:
"It was an observational study, not one that can show cause and effect – all it does is show an association. It would be premature to jump up and down and say that everyone has got to sleep on their left. It's a starting point for future research."
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