Having Too Many Childbirths Is Not Good For Mother’s Heart

    A group of researchers from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, USA have proved that that number of child births are directly related to and predictor of heart diseases in mother.

    A research group headed by Dr Monika Sanghavi, who is a women’s heart specialist, found significant damage to heart tissus leading to heart diseases in women having 4 or more children. There were early wearing off along with hardenened brittle heart valves and blood vessels (called coronary arteries) seen in the subgroup of patients compared with those bearing lesser number of or no children.

    This is of particular interest in developing countries, where bearing 3 or more children is not uncommon. The use of contraceptive methods, either temporary or permanent, is either not known to people because of their ignorance and short comings in health education system or unacceptable to them for traditional, religious or personal reasons.

    Each pregnancy is associated with significant changes in a woman’s body. There are hormonal changes which are responsible for water retention, lipid (bad cholesterol) accumulation and disarray in sugar control in the body. There are also increased blood volume and higher blood pressures for heart to work against. Researchers found out that there were higher chances of calcium accumulation in valves and blood vessels resulting in their stiffening and hardening and thus lost elasticity.

    Besides damage to heart, there are various other complications of too many child-births to the body of mother.

    • Postpartum haemorrhage: This is the bleeding occurring from mother’s uterus immediately after the delivery of the baby and is a a major cause of maternal death in developing countries.
    • Antepartum haemorrhage: The bleeding occurring during pregnancy is also more common in women having multiple child births. This is harmful to both mother and child and a common cause of anemia in mother and developmental disorders in the child.
    • Gestational diabetes: Diabetes first detected during pregnancy becomes more and more common with each child birth.
    • Premature rupture of the membranes: The baby resides in a sac with a very thin membrane and full of fluid called amniotic fluid. The rupture of membranes occur when a woman goes into labour. A premature rupture may occur more commonly after multiple child births and lead to infection and delivery of a premature and underdeveloped child.

    By definition, and in medical terminology, a woman with 5 or more pregnancies (which last more than 20 weeks, i.e. ~ four and half month from conception) are termed Grand Multipara. They are considered at the highest risk of all the above complications.

    The aim of this article is to teach masses, the importance of limiting the number of childbirths and use of contraception. Readers are encouraged to leave comments and queries in the comment section and author will be happy to help them with their doubts.

    Bai J, Wong FW, Bauman A, Mohsin M. Parity and pregnancy outcomes. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2002; 186:274.

    Saurabh Singhal
    Saurabh Singhal
    Saurabh is a surgeon who has completed his MS from AIIMS, a reputed medical school of India. One of the founders of Zigverve. Occasionally drumming for the band Alexithyme. Desires to help people keep themselves fit and healthy, and thus doing his bit in the direction through Zigverve.

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    1. I think having one or two children is sufficient to complete a family. People opting for more children are not just putting health of the women and the children at risk, but also leading to economic issues at the family level (considering a vast majority of population in India is below poverty line, poor or middle socioeconomic status).

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