Sleep-related disturbances in pregnancy can lead to adverse pregnancy situations and birth complications, a new study says.
Sound sleep is essential for a healthy pregnancy and baby. However, many women experience sleep disturbances after becoming pregnant. A team of New Zealand researchers found that poor sleep contributed to depression in pregnant women and further increased the risk of giving birth via cesarean section and having small babies.
Researchers from Massey University in New Zealand studied 1144 pregnant women, aged between 16 and 46. Prevalence of sleep related problems and health among the women during pregnancy (at 35-37 weeks) and after birth (between one to six weeks and 12 weeks) was collected via questionnaires and phone interviews.
A significant number of women in the study reported experiencing poor sleep - less than six hours - as they reached the last stages of pregnancy. Apart from that, researchers were surprised to see the prevalence of loud snoring among the women.
Another interesting finding was the association between sleep duration and adverse birth outcome. They found that lack of getting a goodnight's sleep increased the risk of gestational diabetes, cesarean birth and increased the risk of struggling with labour pain for a longer period.
"Our early results indicate that frequent breathing pauses during sleep (a symptom of sleep disordered breathing) may have a role in increasing the risk of a woman requiring a caesarean section," Dr Leigh Signal, who led the study, said in a news release.
Countless studies in the past have shown that sleep related problems, including snoring, posed high risks to maternal cardiovascular health, increased pregnancy related complications, such as high blood pressure, preeclampsia, premature birth and underweight babies. Studies have also shown that newborns of women with sleep apnea were at greater risk of being admitted to the neonatal intensive care (NICU), mainly for respiratory distress.