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Changing Sleep Positions Unlikely To Harm Baby In Pregnancy

A recent study reveals that there's no correlation between the sleeping positions of pregnant women and adverse effects on their child.

Along with the gynecologist, almost every second person advises pregnant women on multiple things. One of the most common advice includes sleeping on the left side to avoid the risk of stillbirth or insufficient blood flow to the fetus. But research conducted with 8700 women during the first 30 weeks of pregnancy signified that women sleeping on left, right, or back ways are equally likely or unlikely to face adverse circumstances. The study revealed that approximately 22 percent of these women were found to have experienced severe pregnancy complications irrespective of their sleeping positions.

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“We can reassure women that through 30 weeks of pregnancy, different sleep positions are safe," said study lead author Dr. Robert Silver, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. But because the study didn't include women past 30 weeks, they couldn't make a conclusive declaration regarding the last 10 weeks of pregnancy. This research is set to be published in the October issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Different answers were given when asked the reason as to why pregnant women are asked to sleep on their left side. Dr. Nathan Fox- an associate clinical professor in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City- explained that the amount of blood flow is considerably reduced if a pregnant woman lies flat on her back. This is because, with the continuous growth of the fetus, the baby and the uterus make a significant part of the body, which then increases the possibility of compressing blood vessels when the woman lies flat on the back. This causes decreased blood flow, which leads to stillbirths or a drop in the baby's heartbeat.

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The results were analyzed in terms of a number of adverse pregnancy outcomes- including stillbirth, high blood pressure disorders, or having a smaller baby for his or her gestational age. Dr. Silver said that this research should be performed during later stages of pregnancy to find if the results are the same.

“Women should try to sleep in whatever position is most comfortable for them," Fox said. "And we [the medical community] need to be cautious when giving recommendations about what to do in everyday life. Consider what is the evidence supporting that recommendation."

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This is undoubtedly a relief for most pregnant mothers, as they already face lots of discomfort and inconvenience throughout pregnancy. But until the time comes when we have updates regarding the later stage of pregnancy, it's better to avoid any issues and follow your gynecologist’s advice.

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