A new paper published in Women and Birth Journal, led by the Stillbirth CRE’s Kara Warrilow, highlights the importance of communicating clear stillbirth prevention messages, with pregnant women more likely to go to sleep on their side if they receive advice to do so.
The study, titled “Australian women’s perceptions and practice of sleep position in late pregnancy: An online survey” found that the majority of Australian women understand the importance of going-to-sleep position in late pregnancy, although inconsistencies in information provided remain and it is unknown whether these stillbirth prevention messages are reaching high-risk populations.
This study aimed to identify sleep practices, attitudes and knowledge in pregnant women, to inform an Australian safe sleeping campaign.
This was achieved using a web-based survey of pregnant women ≥28 weeks’ gestation conducted from November 2017 to January 2018. The survey was adapted from international sleep surveys and disseminated via pregnancy websites and social media platforms.
Three hundred and fifty-two women participated. Five (1.6%) reported going to sleep in the supine position. Most (87.8%) had received information on the importance of side-sleeping in pregnancy. Information was received from a variety of sources including maternity care providers (186; 66.2%) and the internet (177; 63.0%). Women were more likely to report going to sleep on their side if they had received advice to do so (OR 2.3; 95% CI 1.0–5.1). Thirteen (10.8%) reported receiving unsafe advice, including changing their going-to-sleep position to the supine position.
This indicates high level awareness and practice of safe late-pregnancy going-to-sleep position in participants. Opportunities remain for improvement in the information provided, and understanding needs of specific groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
Findings suggest Australian women understand the importance of sleeping position in late pregnancy. Inconsistencies in information provided remain and may be addressed through public awareness campaigns targeting women and their care providers.