Low oxygen levels during pregnancy linked to birth defects
01 Apr 2019

Everyone requires oxygen, including a fetus in its mother’s womb. Oxygen is significant to life, and to a fetus, it is important to growth and development, therefore any lack of oxygen has the potential to be devastating and even fatal to a growing fetus. It is hence vital for an expectant mother to avoid any behavior that might scale back the amount of oxygen her baby receives.

A new study indicates that oxygen deprivation during the fetal stage could increase the threat of birth defects.

Oxygen deprivation, also known as asphyxia, is a notable risk for babies throughout the labor and delivery process. Lack of oxygen at birth can have long-run effects on the baby and his/her family. Hypoxia, or reduced oxygen to the brain, can cause long-term disabilities and developmental delays. Severe oxygen deprivation or anoxia, which is the term for no oxygen reaching the brain, can also induce disabilities or in the worst-case scenario, death.

Also read: Breathlessness during pregnancy: Is it normal or how to ease it. 

Why a Fetus Could Lack Oxygen?

The most common reason a fetus does not receive adequate oxygen in the womb is a condition known as placental abruption. This condition occurs once the placenta detaches, either partly or completely, from the wall of the uterus, which decreases the blood flow reaching the fetus. Exposure to cigarette smoke directly or secondhand can also obstruct blood flow to the fetus, and so can the use of cocaine. This lack of blood flow and hence oxygen can cause permanent harm to the fetus.

How this can harm your child?

Lack of oxygen in the womb can result in the following conditions:

  • Cerebral Palsy:
    It is one of the most common results of a fetus lacking oxygen in the womb. It is caused by brain damage that affects the components of the brain concerned with controlling movement and coordination. A child suffering from cerebral palsy will have trouble with motor skills and balance, and also often experience some form of developmental delay
  • Heart Disease:

While it might not be immediately apparent, but it is believed that an adult who lacked oxygen in the womb is at higher risk for heart disease

  • Stillbirth:
    Stillbirth means the death of a fetus anytime after 20 weeks of maternity. According to the March of Dimes, stillbirths happen in about 1 in every 160 pregnancies.

Ways to Increase Oxygen Flow During Pregnancy:

Your body requires 20% additional oxygen during pregnancy, so increasing your oxygen flow might help improve your and your baby’s overall health. You can adopt the following methods to increase quality oxygen in your body and avoid breathlessness during pregnancy:

  • Using Deep Breathing Exercises

Increase the use of your diaphragm while breathing. Many people take short, shallow breaths. This limits your oxygen intake. If you wish to increase your oxygen intake, you can try various breathing exercises, such as deep breathing. There is also, a variation on the deep breathing exercise that can help strengthen your diaphragm, which will help you breathe deeper every day and increase your oxygen flow during pregnancy, known as the humming breath. You can also try the Chinese breathing exercise which aids to get a lot of air into your body at a particular time.

Pregnant young women doing prenatal yoga. Meditation

  • Exercising to Increase Circulation During Pregnancy

Exercising your muscles permits them to extract additional oxygen from your blood than they do while at rest. Since your body requires an additional 20% oxygen during pregnancy, it is beneficial for your muscles to be more efficient at taking oxygen from the bloodstream. You can try activities like prenatal yoga, swimming, performing leg extensions, triceps extension, overhead extensions, and strengthening your biceps. You can also try stretching as this helps to get your blood flowing. While you’re pregnant, you should be active and keep moving.

  • Understanding Oxygen Needs During Pregnancy

    • Understand how an increase in oxygen can help you and your baby
      When you are pregnant, you need to be certain that you are as healthy as possible so your baby has every chance to grow. Increased oxygen flow during your pregnancy will help to relieve any dizziness you may have and reduce your fatigue
    • Recognize the benefits of increased blood flow
      In addition to enhanced oxygen flow, you should increase your blood circulation during gestation. This will facilitate increase the oxygen flow in your body because your blood transports the oxygen through your body
    • Talk to your doctor
      Before you start any exercise regimen or change in behavior while pregnant, you should talk to your obstetrician or midwife. You need to be certain you’re healthy enough to endure the suggested exercises.


You can also opt for oxygen therapy at home at your comfort. MyOxy, India’s first FDA approved Medicinal Grade Pure Oxygen I.P. 99%  provides quality oxygen to you and your baby and hence, ensures that you and your baby get pure oxygen which also happens to be portable! 







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