NICE: Use pillows to sleep on your side in the last 3 months of pregnancy

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Adapted from BMJ 6 Nov 2021 NICE: Routine antenatal care for women and their babies.

Although the evidence base is small, evidence suggests that after 28 weeks of pregnancy, women who fall asleep on their backs, have an increased risk of having a baby born small for gestational age or even stillbirth.

They suggest that women use pillows to alter their position in bed so that lying on their side is easier.

This was the main new bit of information from this updated review which is important for women to know. The last review was published in 2008.

Women don’t need to go via their GP to access antenatal care. They can self refer, make an appointment with a midwife, any other appropriate health care professional, or via school nurses, community centre or refugee hostel. At a midwife led booking appointment she will be given information on all the things she can modify, by doing or not doing things to improve her chances of having a healthy baby. Partner involvement is considered to be helpful at all stages of pregnancy and delivery.

They also state that if a woman has vaginal bleeding after 13 weeks of pregnancy, she should be referred to hospital. (This normally happens and is not new advice).

Rates of maternal mortality and stillbirth are highest among women and babies from deprived areas, and higher among black, mixed ethnicity and Asian women compared with white women.

Routine ultrasound scanning is not recommended in low risk singleton pregnancies during the third trimester.

2 thoughts on “NICE: Use pillows to sleep on your side in the last 3 months of pregnancy”

  1. It’s been a long time since we had children, but as I recall third-trimester ultrasound was done routinely. At least that was 40 years ago. I hope that was not the cause.


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