Pregnant woman sleeping on her side

Sleep on side when baby's inside

from 28 weeks of pregnancy

Sleep On Your Side

Research shows that going to sleep on your side from 28 weeks of pregnancy halves your risk of stillbirth compared with going to sleep on your back. Lying on your back in the last three months of pregnancy presses on major blood vessels, which can reduce blood flow to the womb and oxygen supply to the baby.

Each year, in New Zealand, approximately 160 babies are stillborn in the last three months of pregnancy. It’s estimated that if all pregnant women go to sleep on their side from 28 weeks of pregnancy, there could be a 10 percent decrease in late stillbirth nationally.

The advice to pregnant women during the third trimester is to go to sleep on their side for every sleep, including;

  • going to sleep at night
  • returning to sleep after any night wakenings
  • day-time naps

About the Campaign

‘Sleep on Side; Stillbirth Prevention Campaign’ is a public health messaging campaign by the University of Auckland, Cure Kids and the Ministry of Health, that is designed to provide pregnant women with vital information that may reduce the risk of stillbirth in the late stages of pregnancy.

Cure Kids has supported the programme of research, which has provided the evidence for the ‘Sleep on Side; Stillbirth Prevention Campaign’ since 2007, enabling New Zealand researchers to lead the way with these internationally significant findings.

Professor Lesley McCowan, Head of The University of Auckland’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and her team of New Zealand researchers, have been at the forefront of international research looking at risk factors for stillbirth for nearly 10 years. The conclusion from four studies – two by Professor McCowan in New Zealand, one in Australia and one from the UK – which analysed more than 800 late pregnancy stillbirth cases, reveals a 2.5 to 6-fold increase in the risk of late stillbirth if women go to sleep lying on their back.

Campaign Contributors

Campaign materials have been adapted from the UK Sleep on Side campaign by charity Tommy's. Special thanks to the team for the support given.