Pregnancy and Sleep Apnea

A Surprise Link Between Sleep Apnea and Pregnancy

Pregnancy takes its toll on a woman’s body.  This is no mystery.  It is well known that pregnant women feel tired throughout the day, especially in the first and third trimesters, and that sleeping at night becomes more and more difficult as the pregnancy goes on due to a greater number of bathroom trips and the also common implications of heartburn, not to mention the fact that it can simply be difficult to get comfortable.

What could easily be missed are the signs of sleep apnea that are not being addressed because poor sleep just comes with being pregnant.  Something else that may not be considered for someone who is expecting is the effect poor sleep can have on her health and her baby’s health as well.

Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy

Sleep apnea should not be confused with restless sleep. Throughout your pregnancy, it may become more and more difficult to sleep throughout the night. Sleep apnea is a disorder in which the sufferer has interruptions in breathing during sleep, either in the form of severe snoring or in the events of gasping or choking.  This can happen up to hundreds of times a night.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms:

  • Chronic Daytime Fatigue
  • Loud Snoring
  • Dry Mouth
  • Waking up with migraines/headaches

Sleep Apnea Risks

Sleep apnea deprives your body of oxygen and robs you of restorative sleep. The exact cause for sleep apnea during pregnancy is not known. Sleep apnea in healthy pregnancies is rare (somewhere between 1-10%). Women who gain more than 35 pounds or are already obese are at a greater risk to develop sleep apnea during pregnancy.

Pregnancy-related sleep apnea can increase the risk for preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm birth, and in extreme cases maternal death.

Sleep Apnea Solutions

Sleep apnea during pregnancy is likely to be underdiagnosed because the symptoms look like other pregnancy-related symptoms.  If sleep apnea is the problem during pregnancy, a solution is not far away. If you worry you’re suffering from sleep apnea, the first step is to take a sleep test.

The same treatment used to help those who are not pregnant, but suffering from sleep apnea, is used for those who are pregnant.  One of the best points about it is that CPAP therapy is drug-free so there is no chance of harming the baby by ingesting any medications.  CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, is a small machine that sits on the bedside table.  It is connected to a hose and mask which the patient wears while sleeping and it forces air through the mask to the person wearing it to keep her breathing steadily throughout the night.

When a pregnant woman gets proper rest, her body has a better chance of working for her rather than becoming a challenge during a time that is supposed to be joyous and exciting.   All it takes to get started for someone who may be concerned about sleep apnea is a simple talk with a doctor and a one-night sleep test.

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