If your pregnancy is uncomplicated your risk of stillbirth is low (1 in 200 babies are stillborn). Taking these two steps below will make your risk even lower.
- Be aware of your baby’s movements from 28 weeks and if they lessen or stop tell your midwife or hospital immediately.
Go to sleep on your side from 28 weeks but do not worry if you wake up on your back during the night, simply roll back onto your side.
Knowing your baby’s movements
Your baby’s movements are a sign that they are well. When a baby is unwell or not receiving enough oxygen or nutrients, they move less to conserve their energy.
Being aware of their pattern of movement allows you to be aware and act if movements change in any way. Going to the hospital in time is important to make a difference.
A slow down of movement was reported by the mother in around half of stillbirths.
Going to sleep on your side
Research has shown that in the third trimester (after 28 weeks of pregnancy) going to sleep on your back increases your risk of stillbirth. As the link has now been shown in four separate research trials, our advice is to go to sleep on your side in the third trimester because it is safer for your baby. The advice is the same for any type of sleep, including:
- going to sleep at night
- returning to sleep after any night wakenings
- day time naps.
Sleep position in the third trimester is important because if you are on your back the combined weight of baby and womb puts pressure on other organs in your body.
Researchers do not know for certain what exactly is causing the increased risk of stillbirth, but we already know the following, which could play a part :
- When sleeping/lying on your back the baby and womb put pressure on the main blood vessels that supply the uterus and this can restrict blood flow/oxygen to the baby.
- Further recent studies have shown that when a woman lies on her back in late pregnancy (compared to lying on side) the baby is less active and has changes in heart-rate patterns. This is thought to be due to lower oxygen levels in the baby when the mother lies on her back.
Other things you can do to keep your baby safe
- If you smoke, quit.
- If you drink alcohol or take recreational drugs, stop
- Go to all your antenatal appointments and scans so midwives can check your baby’s growth and development. They’ll also test for signs of conditions that can affect mums, such as pre-eclampsia, which have been associated with stillbirth. Give a urine sample at EVERY antenatal appointment.
- Read up on how to avoid infections in pregnancy that can affect your baby.
- Tell your midwife about any bleeding, stomach pains or other symptoms that are worrying you.
- Report any itching to your midwife. Itching can be a sign of a liver disorder called obstetric cholestasis/intraheptic cholestasis of pregnancy. This condition has been linked to an increased risk of stillbirth, but with careful management most babies are unaffected.
- Get your flu vaccination in pregnancy. The vaccine is recommended by the NHS as well as RCOG and RCM because of the benefits to you and your baby. Getting the flu in pregnancy is a serious matter. As well as increasing your risk of stillbirth it puts you at risk of complications.
This section gives you the answers to some of the questions most frequently asked during pregnancy. Compiled by the Tommy's team of midwives and you.
You may have heard about morning sickness and extreme tiredness, but what about these other common but less talked about pregnancy symptoms.
As a pregnant employee you have legal rights, and this includes paid time off for antenatal care.
It is completely up to you who comes with you to your antenatal appointments.
It’s unlikely you will have an internal examination (inside your vagina) until you go into labour unless there is a possible problem
A birth plan is a written record of what you would like to happen during your labour and after the birth. It can also include things you’d like to avoid.
You will be offered a whooping cough and flu vaccination during pregnancy to keep your baby safe during pregnancy and for a short while after they are born
Antenatal classes (sometimes called parentcraft classes) give you a chance to learn about what happens during labour and birth.
An ultrasound scan is a way of looking at your baby in the womb. Scans can check the date your baby is due, tell whether you're having more than one baby and pick up on some possible problems.
Screening tests will let you know whether your baby has a high risk of a particular condition, such as Down's syndrome. Diagnostic tests will let you know whether they have it.
You will be offered tests and checks in pregnancy to keep an eye on your health and your baby's. You will also be given information to help you decide whether you want to have them.
Your pregnancy notes is a book that you hold in which the midwife and other health professionals keep record of your medical history and events during your pregnancy.