Pregnancy is a period of both joy and discomfort for women. Over 9 to 10 months, pregnant women are responsible for the well-being of a developing baby while maintaining their own health.
Week by week, mothers experience new symptoms and physiological changes as their babies achieve new milestones in the womb.
It is essential for women to rest well throughout pregnancy, although this is often difficult. Women often sleep much better during the second trimester but may start snoring during pregnancy, particularly during the third trimester.
Snoring during pregnancy can be attributed to several factors:
Pregnant women should ask their partners to note if they observe any signs of sleep apnea. Typically sleep apnea will manifest as increasingly heavy snoring, followed by a short gasp or snort. This is when airflow stops, often for 10 seconds or more. This can be dangerous during pregnancy. Any cutoff in oxygen supply can be debilitating.
One study conducted at the University of Michigan showed that pregnant women with sleep apnea were more likely to require a Caesarean section and have a higher risk of poor delivery outcomes. Those who snored before and during pregnancy were more likely to give birth to a baby below the 10th percentile for weight and twice as likely to require a Caesarean section.
Chronic snoring can also lead to preeclampsia or high blood pressure during pregnancy. Blood pressure exceeding 140/90 mmHg on two separate occasions may indicate preeclampsia. Uncontrolled preeclampsia can lead to poor fetal growth, insufficient amniotic fluid, and placental abruption.
Since sleep apnea can reduce the quality of sleep, pregnant women experiencing the condition can feel poorly rested and worn out during the day. This can affect the quality of life during pregnancy, as prolonged sleep deprivation can affect the mood and cognitive function.
Pregnant women who have gained more weight than expected can minimize their sleep discomfort by eating healthily and exercising according to their doctor’s recommendations. Other simple remedies for snoring include:
For severe, persistent sleep apnea, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine may help. A CPAP machine consists of a mask and small pump to provide gentle air flow, helping the airways open continuously. Most individuals experience immediate relief with a CPAP machine, which can be used safely during pregnancy.
Pregnant women should ensure they receive quality, uninterrupted sleep. Those experiencing prolonged discomfort should consult a doctor as soon as possible.