Previous studies have shown that women working nights have a harder time getting pregnant. Now new research suggests that working night shifts may increase a woman’s risk of losing her baby.
Researchers from Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital in Copenhagen analyzed data from close to 23,000 pregnant Danish women. They tracked their work schedules and hospital admissions for miscarriage via government databases. There were 740 miscarriages among 10,047 women who had done night shift work during Week 3 through Week 21 of their pregnancy. Among the 12,697 women who didn’t work nights, there were 1,149.
The study also took into account the women’s age, body mass index (BMI), whether they were smoking, the number of previous births and miscarriages, as well as socioeconomic status.
The study, published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, found that pregnant women who worked two nights a week, between Week 8 and Week 22 of their pregnancies, had a 32-percent increased risk for miscarriage the following week. Working only one night shift a week didn’t increase the risk of miscarriage.
Pregnant women who worked at least 26 night shifts between Weeks 4 and Week 22 of their pregnancies were more than twice likely to lose their baby, although this conclusion was based on only eight women.
“Women working night shifts are exposed to light at night, which disrupts their circadian rhythm and decreases the release of melatonin,” lead author Dr. Luise Molenberg Begtrup explained in an email to Reuters. “Melatonin has been shown to be important in maintaining a successful pregnancy, possibly by preserving the function of the placenta,” she added.
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The study doesn’t show cause and effect, so it cannot be said that it is a factor when it comes to the risk of miscarriage for pregnant women who work nights. But Dr. Begtrup does suggest if it is good if a night shift can be kept to to just one per week.
The real takeaway is never underestimate how vital sleep is in a healthy pregnancy. Your body is working overtime, nourishing a new life inside you, and your body needs ample rest. Sleep issues during pregnancy have also been linked to premature birth. (Click here to know more about premature or preterm birth.)
Aim for at least six to eight hours of sleep nightly and, by all means, nap all you want. Napping during pregnancy has been associated with healthier birth weight in newborns.