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Title: The effect of body position on maternal cardiovascular function during sleep and wakefulness in late pregnancy.
Austin Authors: Ishkova, Anna;Wilson, Danielle L ;Howard, Mark E ;Walker, Susan P;Barnes, Maree ;Nicholas, Christian L;Jordan, Amy S 
Affiliation: Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia
Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia
Mercy Hospital for Women, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
Institute for Breathing and Sleep, Austin Health, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia
Issue Date: 2022 2020
Publication information: Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine 2022-07; 35(13): 2545-2554
Abstract: An association between the increased risk of late stillbirth and the maternal supine sleeping position has been recently established. The risk of stillbirth following supine sleep has been suspected to occur as a result of aortocaval compression by the gravid uterus. A number of studies conducted during wakefulness have reported compromised cardiovascular function during supine rest, as demonstrated by reductions in cardiac output, blood pressure and utero-placental blood flow. It remains unclear whether similar effects are also present during sleep, due to the presence of key sleep-specific changes in cardiovascular function. To investigate the changes in maternal cardiovascular function between the supine and left-lateral positions during wakefulness and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep in late pregnancy. Twenty-nine women with a singleton pregnancy between 24.7 and 36.7 weeks' gestation participated in a single overnight sleep study. Physiological measures (blood pressure, heart rate, heart rate variability - HRV, and pulse arrival time - PAT) were measured and recorded throughout the night using standard polysomnography equipment and the Portapres Model-2 device. As the present study evaluated cardiovascular changes during natural rest and sleep in pregnancy, participants were not given explicit instructions on which position to adopt. Body position was continuously recorded using a position monitor and verified with video recording. No changes in systolic, diastolic or mean arterial blood pressure were observed between the left-lateral and supine positions during wakefulness or sleep. However, heart rate was significantly higher in the supine position compared to the left during wakefulness (p= .03), with a similar trend present during sleep (p= .11). A significantly shorter PAT was measured in the supine position (compared to the left) during wakefulness (p= .01) and sleep (p= .01). No change in HRV measures was observed between the left and supine positions in either state. Blood pressure did not appear to differ significantly between the left-lateral and supine positions during wakefulness and sleep. The lack of blood pressure differences may reflect elevated sympathetic activity during rest and sleep in the supine position (compared to the left), suggesting that some degree of compensation for aortocaval compression may still be possible during sleep.
DOI: 10.1080/14767058.2020.1789583
ORCID: 0000-0001-6754-7359
PubMed URL: 32669005
Type: Journal Article
Subjects: Late stillbirth
aortocaval compression
cardiovascular function
maternal sleeping position
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