The 35-40 week pregnancy span (from the conception of a fetus to the birth of a child) is a crucial period to ensure a healthy baby is born. Expected mothers must remain as healthy as possible so that the fetus receives proper nutrients for a safe and healthy development.
However, sometimes complications can occur. One of this is low oxygen levels (hypoxia and hypoxemia). This means your blood doesn’t have adequate amounts of oxygen, and can’t be delivered throughout your body.
Here are just a few risks of what that means for you if you are expecting.
1. Sleep Apnea
During the past few years, sleep apnea has become an epidemic. Sleep apnea itself is an act of pausing breathing frequently during sleep – these pauses last around 10 seconds. This drops the blood’s oxygen levels. Which, if this occurs, puts the fetus at risk for diabetes or growth restriction. However, sleep apnea is also associated with gestational hypertension and unplanned C-sections. Sleep apnea can be somewhat prevented for mothers by sleeping on your sides.
- Breathing pauses
- Choking or gasping yourself awake
- Frequent nighttime urination
2. Placental Disruption
One out of 150 pregnancies results in placental disruption (abruption placentae). It can happen at any time after 20 weeks of pregnancy but is most common during the third trimester. Fetuses get their oxygen from mothers through both the placenta and through veins in the umbilical cord. The fetus will not receive enough oxygen when the oxygenated blood flow through these veins is interrupted.
Placental disruption is a result of the placenta detaching from the uterus’ wall (either partially or fully). This disrupts the blood flow to the fetus. A lack of blood flow can cause the fetus permanent damage – especially if you are experiencing low oxygen levels (which can be helped by oxygen concentrators).
Most pregnant mothers experience either back pain, tender uterine or both. However, a quarter of cases reported an abruption, which forced expected mothers to go into premature labor. If a placental disruption occurs, expect vaginal bleeding – which may be in small amounts or a gushing stream.
However, the bleeding may not be from the uterus at all. Your practitioner, in this case, will examine your cervix and vagina to determine whether the bleeding is from a laceration, infection or cervical polyp. Therefore, it’s important to avoid smoking or inhaling second-hand smoke, as this too stops the fetus from receiving blood.
3. Heart Disease
Our hearts are responsible for carrying blood—via the chambers, arteries, and valves—throughout our circulatory system. When this system is in-sync, blood is pumped through the heart, which is then pumped to the lungs (which turns into oxygen), goes back to the heart, and then out of the body in the form of carbon dioxide. This oxygen transfer is responsible for a living. If the arteries, veins, chambers or valves are malformed, this transfer is impaired, resulting in low oxygen… leading to congenital heart defects. These defects can (and could) affect a fetus’s circulatory system. Depleted oxygen levels affect the fetus’s development of the cardiovascular system and heart. Later in life, these adults are potentially at higher risk for heart disease.
There are about 35 known types of congenital heart defects. Here are just a few:
4. Cerebral Palsy
You’ve probably heard of cerebral palsy, and for a good reason. According to American Pregnancy, approximately 2-3 children out of 1,000 have CP. It’s a disorder that affects our abilities to move properly, and is caused by abnormal brain development. Developmental delay is probable; whether their speech, vision, movement or social/emotional skills develop more slowly depends entirely on the child – as we all have different development rates. The child will have to go through several rounds of physical therapy, and either uses braces, casts and may require cerebral palsy surgery.
Everyone on Earth—especially fetuses—need oxygen to survive. Without oxygen, we die – it is as simple as that. Be sure always to maintain a healthy oxygen level, either by breathing deeply (using deep-breathing exercises) or using portable oxygen concentrators through oxygen therapy.