Women’s sleep position during pregnancy in low‑ and middle‑income countries: a systematic review

Shania Rossiter, Samia Aziz, Alyce Wilson, Liz Comrie-Thomson, Tomasina Stacey, Caroline Homer, Joshua Vogel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Approximately 2.6 million babies are stillborn each year globally, of which 98% occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). A 2019 individual participant data meta-analysis of 6 studies from high-income countries found that maternal supine going-to-sleep position increased the risk of stillbirth. It is not clear whether this impact would be the same in LMICs, and the normal sleep behaviour of pregnant women in LMICs is not well understood. Objective: Determine the prevalence of different sleeping positions among pregnant women in LMICs, and what (if any) positions were associated with stillbirth using a systematic review. Search strategy: We systematically searched the databases Medline, Embase, Emcare, CINAHL and Global Index Medicus for relevant studies, with no date or language restrictions on 4 April 2020. Reference lists of included studies were also screened. Selection criteria: Observational studies of maternal sleep position during pregnancy in LMICs Data collection and analysis: Recovered citations were screened and eligible studies were included for extraction. These steps were performed by two independent reviewers. Risk of bias was assessed using the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale. Main results: A total of 3480 citations were screened but only two studies met the inclusion criteria. The studies were conducted in Ghana and India and reported on different maternal sleep positions: supine and left lateral. In Ghana, a prevalence of 9.7% for supine sleeping position amongst 220 women was found. The primary outcome could not be extracted from the Indian study as sleep position information was only reported for women who had a stillbirth (100 of the 300 participants). Conclusion: There is limited information on maternal sleeping position in LMICs. Since sleep position may be a modifiable risk factor for stillbirth, there is a need for further research to understand the sleep practices and behaviours of pregnant women in LMICs. PROSPERO registration: CRD42020173314

Original languageEnglish
Article number53
Number of pages7
JournalReproductive Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Women’s sleep position during pregnancy in low‑ and middle‑income countries: a systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this