Back in October, I had the honour of being invited along to an event at Facebook HQ with Tommy’s. Here we were given a sneak peak into their newest public health campaign, #SleepOnSide, and the research findings that have prompted the need for this important piece of awareness.
The research study has been published today in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecologist, and alongside it, Tommy’s have released their #SleepOnSide campaign which I can’t wait to share with you all.
The research that has prompted this important campaign was conducted by Professor Alexander Heazell, from the Manchester Stillbirth Research Centre. He led the Midlands and North England Stillbirth Study (MiNESS). It is the largest study to be conducted into late Stillbirth and is now the FOURTH research study to find links between Stillbirth and maternal sleep positions.
It has found that pregnant women who go to sleep on their back in the third trimester (after 28 weeks), have a 2.3-fold increased risk of Stillbirth compared to women who sleep on their side. This is huge, especially when you compare it to the risk of Stillbirth caused by smoking which is 1.9-fold increase!
The exact reasons why sleeping on your back increases risk is not fully know, but professionals believe that when the woman is lying on her back, the combined weight of baby and uterus puts pressure on the main blood vessels that supply the uterus, restricting blood flow and oxygen to the baby. Other possible explanations include disturbed breathing during sleep, which is worse when a woman sleeps on her back and in overweight or obese women
Around 1 in 225 pregnancies in the UK end in Stillbirth (thats around 11 babies per day) – these figures are far too high and heartbreaking. The MiNESS study has estimated that if every pregnant woman in the UK went to sleep on their side during the third trimester, the number of Stillbirths could be decreased by as much as 3.7% – saving around 130 babies per year!
The aim of Tommy’s #SleepOnSide campaign is to raise awareness of the risks of sleeping on your back during the third trimester of pregnancy, and encourage all pregnant women to go to sleep on their side.
It has been found that the position in which you initially fall to sleep is held for the longest during the night. The key messages and recommendations of #SleepOnSide are:
- Going to sleep on your side in the third trimester reduces your risk of Stillbirth.
- When you go to sleep at night, or take day time naps, lie on your side (left or right, it doesn’t matter which).
- If you wake up and find yourself lay on your back, don’t worry. Simply roll over onto your side to go back to sleep.
You can see the Tommy’s #SleepOnSide campaign video below:
Knowledge is Power
I am really proud to support Tommy’s on this campaign. I’ve always been aware that you should sleep on your side when pregnant, but no-one ever really explained why – that it because lying on your back could harm your baby and potentially lead to stillbirth.
Pregnant women are given so much information about what to do/not to do – what foods to avoid, not to use dopplers, to get checked out if you notice itching/swelling/headaches/reduced movements etc, but the key message behind why they are given this information always seems to be missing or skirted around.
I understand how worrying pregnancy can be and that people don’t want to hear about stillbirth. But I also know the real devastation of stillbirth and wouldn’t wish anyone else to experience it. Whilst Guy was stillborn in the second trimester due to inter-uterine growth restriction, I fully appreciate all the medical advice available for staying safe in pregnancy.
It’s really important that this information is given to all pregnant women and if given in the right way, it should arm women with all the facts and knowledge to keep their baby safe during pregnancy. The purpose of campaigns like this isn’t to scare women, its to inform and empower! Surly were are going to be more inclined to follow advice if we know why we are being given it?
Please help me spread this message with Tommy’s and help save babies lives!