Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare; Hannakaisa Niela-Vilen, Eeva Ekholm, Fatemeh Sarhaddi, Iman Azimi, Amir M. Rahmani, Pasi Liljeberg, Miko Pasanen, Anna Axelin; Published February 7, 2023; DOI: 10.1016/j.srhc.2023.100820
The aim of this study was to compare subjectively and objectively measured stress during pregnancy and the three months postpartum in women with previous adverse pregnancy outcomes and women with normal obstetric histories.
We recruited two cohorts in southwestern Finland for this longitudinal study: (1) pregnant women (n = 32) with histories of preterm births or late miscarriages January-December 2019 and (2) pregnant women (n = 30) with histories of full-term births October 2019-March 2020. We continuously measured heart rate variability (HRV) using a smartwatch from 12 to 15 weeks of pregnancy until three months postpartum, and subjective stress was assessed with a smartphone application.
We recruited the women in both cohorts at a median of 14.2 weeks of pregnancy. The women with previous adverse pregnancy outcomes delivered earlier and more often through Caesarean section compared with the women with normal obstetric histories. We found differences in subjective stress between the cohorts in pregnancy weeks 29 and 34. The cohort of women with previous adverse pregnancy outcomes had a higher root mean square of successive differences between normal heartbeats (RMSSD), a well-known HRV parameter, compared with the other cohort in pregnancy weeks 26 (64.9 vs 55.0, p = 0.04) and 32 (63.0 vs 52.3, p = 0.04). Subjective stress did not correlate with HRV parameters.
Women with previous adverse pregnancy outcomes do not suffer from stress in subsequent pregnancies more than women with normal obstetric histories. Healthcare professionals need to be aware that interindividual variation in stress during pregnancy is considerable.
Adverse pregnancy outcome; Heart rate variability; Maternal outcomes; Pregnancy; Stress; Subsequent pregnancy.