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Sleep deprivation can lead to preterm labor

You know that the aches and discomforts of pregnancy make it hard for you to catch some Zs, but did you know that lack of adequate shut-eye can also lead to premature labor and delivery?


Recent research shows that poor sleep quality is linked to an increased risk of preterm birth, emphasizing the importance of quality slumber when you’re expecting. So, before you accept that living on limited sleep is just a normal part of pregnancy, learn how sleep deprivation can lead to preterm labor.

Sleep deprivation

In the November 2011 issue of the journal Sleep, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine published a study finding that expectant mothers suffering from poor sleep quality in the first and third trimesters of their pregnancy were at a higher risk of experiencing preterm birth. Interestingly, the study showed that lack of sleep in the first trimester of pregnancy had a larger influence on the labor and delivery outcome.

Although the study can find the link between sleep deprivation and preterm labor, the authors are still unclear on the exact reason why reduced slumber can lead to premature delivery, speculating that sleep deprivation can lead to inflammation in the body, which may be triggering the early labor and delivery process.

Other pregnancy complications from sleep deprivation

While lack of sleep can lead to premature birth, not getting your forty winks can also lead to other pregnancy problems. “Sleep deprivation, which is not uncommon during pregnancy, can lead to all sorts of complications during pregnancy,” explains Dr. David Adler, Comprehensive OB-GYN of the Palm Beaches. “When an expectant mother is exhausted, elevated levels of cortisol can lead to premature labor, premature rupture of membranes and more instances of tripping and falling.”

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How to lower your risk of delivering a premature baby

Especially when you have other children to care for, getting enough sleep can be tough. But, the consequences of sleep deprivation make a strong case for avoiding preterm labor at all costs.

Brooke Poindexter, Overland Park, Kansas, who was put on bed rest but delivered two days later at 36 weeks, knows all too well about the risks of delivering a premature baby. “He was large for gestational age, but was mottled and grey and did not breathe spontaneously at delivery. He has diagnosed with TTNB (transient tachypnea of the newborn) and was kept in the NICU five days.”

Although there are many factors that can contribute to preterm labor, the authors of the study noted that sleep deprivation is something that you can address and improve upon to reduce your risk. Third trimester sleep is notorious for being less than comfortable, so try and focus your efforts on scoring some adequate sleep in the first trimester of your pregnancy.

Find a solution for your sleep deprivation with tips from the quest for the perfect night’s sleep >>

When it comes to sleep deprivation, the only way to keep exhaustion from potentially leading to a premature delivery is to get in adequate face time with the Sandman. To help you sleep soundly, consider purchasing a pregnancy body support pillow or scoring a leg massage from your partner before you go to bed. While sleep deprivation can lead to preterm labor, taking naps, reducing your stress and asking for help during your prenatal months mean more rest for you and a healthier start for your pea in the pod!

Find more facts on labor and delivery

Learn how to recognize preterm labor
How to prevent premature labor
Am I in labor? 6 signs labor is starting

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