Will Lack Of Sleep During Pregnancy Affect My Baby’s Development?

Will Lack Of Sleep During Pregnancy Affect My Baby’s Development

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If you’re a soon-to-be mommy who’s trying to run on low or no sleep, then stop being brave and read on. This one’s for you.

Research suggests that women who happen to be newly pregnant and receiving five or fewer hours of sleep every night have a greater chance of suffering from complications at birth.

If that wasn’t a nightmare enough (no pun intended), these potential mommies also inadvertently increase their risks of suffering from preeclampsia by a whopping ten times! Preeclampsia is a dangerous complication of pregnancy, where a mommy-to-be develops high blood pressure as well as symptoms signifying damage to her other organs, usually the kidneys and liver.

If untreated, this could have fatal complications for your unborn child, such as damage to the fetal organs or even death. If you happen to be diagnosed rather early in the course of your pregnancy with this condition, then preeclampsia is a challenging task for your doctor since the only solution is birth.

Hence there is the dilemma of giving your little love time to fully mature while simultaneously avoiding the serious complications you’re at risk personally. Not to mention, inducing premature birth with drugs as well as conducting a C-section comes with its own set of potential complications.

The American researchers who conducted the study have discovered that mommies-to-be getting less than five hours of sleep, as early as the first 14 or so weeks of their pregnancy increase their risk times by ten. Usually while sleeping, a woman’s blood pressure will drop by 10-20%. Which means those who lose sleep will possess a blood pressure that is higher than normal during the course of the 24-hour day.

The Washington University scientists believe that though this increment in blood pressure may appear small, it has an impact on the functions of your heart during the course of the pregnancy, which cannot be dismissed.

They also claim that sleep deprivation can alter the levels of certain hormones- vasopressin and endothelin. These are involved in changing the size of your blood vessels, which also has an impact on your blood pressure.

Interestingly, it was also discovered that those pregnant women who on the other end of the spectrum, slept a lot also developed a higher blood pressure. Women who slept more than the recommended nine hours, as well as those who slept for less than six hours, shared a 3.5% higher blood pressure reading than normal.

According to Dr. Michelle Williams, an author of the study, “Both short and long sleep duration in early pregnancy were associated with increased mean third trimester systolic and diastolic blood pressure values. If our results are confirmed by other studies, the findings may motivate increased efforts aimed at exploring lifestyle approaches, particularly improved sleep habits, to lower risk”.

This study, which involved roughly 1300 healthy pregnant women who filled in questionnaires during their 14th week, was published in the 2010 issue of the journal Sleep. Preeclampsia is, unfortunately, a rather common problem, affecting one out of ten pregnancies and tragically leading to the death of 1,000 babies every year. If untreated, the mother can develop ‘eclampsia’ where she suffers a brain hemorrhage that is fatal.

After reading this, sleep is probably the last thing you’re craving – we get it. But it’s vital you establish some sort of routine or simply carve out naps during the course of the day while you’re pregnant. Doctors recommend, avoiding caffeine altogether, staying hydrated and even lightly exercising during the day. Nothing can be a priority over the health of you and your child.

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