CBS Local — A new study is warning women to avoid sleeping on their backs late in their pregnancy. Researchers in Great Britain say the common sleeping position can double the risk of stillbirth during the third trimester.

Published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the study looked at more than 1,000 women across 41 hospitals in the UK. Out of 1,000 women, 291 had a stillbirth late in their pregnancies while the rest had given birth to healthy babies. The findings suggest that women who slept on their backs after the 28th week of pregnancy had more than two times the risk of a stillbirth.

“This study suggests that 3.7 percent of stillbirths after 28 weeks of pregnancy were linked with going to sleep lying on the back,” researchers wrote.

The scientists, led by obstetrician Alexander Heazell of Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Center in Manchester, did not list a direct reason for the increased risk to the child. The team suggests that the cause could be linked to the weight of the womb creating pressure and cutting off blood and oxygen to the baby while the mother is on her back.

“What I don’t want is for women to wake up flat on their back and think ‘oh my goodness I’ve done something awful to my baby,'” Prof. Heazell told the BBC. “You can’t do anything about the position that you wake up in but you can do something about the position you go to sleep.”

The study advises that women late in their pregnancies pay attention to their sleeping position and take steps to stay on their side while sleeping. Heazell and his team say putting a pillow behind your back will help keep you on your side and if you wake up during the night, always reset your sleeping position. The study says sleeping on your right or left side made no difference to the mothers.

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