Sleep Problem – Snoring During Pregnancy
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Snoring during pregnancy can be quite embarrassing. But don’t worry, as it’s quite normal and almost 1/4th of women experience it. It usually begins in the third trimester and goes away after you deliver. It also signifies a medical condition, so discuss this with your gynaecologist during your next visit.
Common Causes of Snoring During Pregnancy
Have you ever wondered why pregnant women snore? Following are some of the common causes of snoring during pregnancy:
- Nasal Congestion:
During pregnancy, the blood in your body increases and, hence, the blood vessels become thicker. These swollen blood vessels block your nasal passage, making breathing difficult, leading to snoring. A high level of estrogen also causes swelling of the mucous membrane in your nose, leading to nasal congestion and snoring.
The other common causes can be nasal congestion due to a cold, flu or allergy.
- Increase in Weight:
The heavier you become, the more difficulty you will have in breathing because when you gain excess weight, there is extra fat in your neck and throat region. This excessive weight can cause breathing problems.
- Sleep Apnea:
Obstructive sleep apnea can be another reason for snoring. This is a medical condition and needs treatment, so do not forget to mention it on your next prenatal visit. This can be diagnosed if you are snoring loudly and frequently. Sometimes you can be making snorting or gasping sounds in your sleep. Sleep apnea needs treatment because, in this condition, your airways get blocked causing you to stop breathing during sleep. This could affect the baby too, as it can cause oxygen deprivation in your body and for the baby. This condition is usually treated with the help of a machine attached to your nose while sleeping.
Risk Associated With Snoring When Pregnant
Snoring during pregnancy can be quite risky for the baby. University of Michigan’s sleep study centre revealed that snoring mothers have a higher risk of delivering smaller babies and are also likely to have a C-section delivery. If you notice that you are snoring more than three times a week, you need to consult the doctor for medical intervention.
- Most chronic snoring mothers are most likely to deliver a baby in the tenth percentile of weight. This shows that it does not matter if you were snoring before or after pregnancy. However, if you are frequently snoring and gasping for breath in your sleep, you must see a doctor. This could be harmful to the baby. The swelling of the blood vessels due to weight gain in pregnancy can also restrict blood flow to the placenta, which in turn will affect the growth of your baby because nutrients and blood will not reach the baby in proper quantity. There is no need to panic as it is completely manageable.
- Pregnancy snoring can also be an indication of gestational diabetes. You might want to take a glucose tolerance test to rule out this possibility.
- Another risk could be an IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction), leading to smaller babies with developmental delays. This can be managed with a regular ultrasound screening.
- Snoring can also lead to preeclampsia, which is a serious issue leading to premature birth and sometimes can be fatal too.
Remedies for Snoring in Pregnancy
How to stop snoring? There are some simple remedies that are available to manage snoring.
Following are some remedies that you can try:
- Nasal Strips:
Nasal strips for snoring during pregnancy are easily available in pharmacies and easy to use too. They are drug-free to and hence safe to use in pregnancy. You have to just stick it on your nose before going to bed.
If the snoring is due to nasal congestion, then use a warm mist humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep to get some relief. Humidifiers are readily available on any online shopping sites. They come with variations depending on the number of hours. Try and choose anything that has 8 hours or more so that you can have a good night’s sleep.
- Sleep on Your Side:
This is something that you will already be doing as sleeping straight is not possible during pregnancy, but remember to lie on your left side for better blood circulation and better sleep too.
- Head Elevation:
If you are sleeping with your head on the bed, then try using two pillows instead of one and keep your head elevated to help free airflow through our nose. This will ease your breathing and reduce snoring.
- Eat Right:
Weight gain during pregnancy is common, but you have to monitor and do not gain a lot of weight as it is difficult to shed those extra kilos post pregnancy. Excess weight gain causes snoring, hence, eat right and stay healthy.
- Ear Plugs:
Earplugs for your partner can be useful as he could be sleep deprived because of your snoring. Sleep deprivation can be very difficult for husbands, too.
- Sleeping Couch:
It is a good idea to ask your husband to sleep on a couch outside the bedroom or shift to another room. It can be quite irritating to be sleep deprived.
- Avoid Alcohol, Smoking and Sleeping Pills
A big ‘NO’ to alcohol, smoking and sleeping pills during pregnancy. These are good if completely avoided during pregnancy as they not only cause snoring but also harm the baby.
When to Consult a Doctor
Although snoring seems to be a harmless problem, during pregnancy, it can indicate serious complications. If you notice the following symptoms, you need to visit the emergency room(ER) of a hospital:
- Persistent headaches
- Very sleepy during the daytime
- Swelling in the legs
The symptoms mentioned above are signs of preeclampsia, which is a serious concern. If the diagnosis is confirmed, you will be delivered immediately. These mentioned symptoms might just be suggestive of preeclampsia, but it is always better to be safe than sorry, so visit the ER as soon as possible. The only way to save the baby in case of preeclampsia is to deliver the baby at whatever number of weeks it is in to increase chances of survival.
Any persistent and unusual symptoms that you notice during pregnancy can be very significant. Therefore, you need to mention it to the gynaecologist during your prenatal visits, snoring too can seem very trivial but it sure is a cause for concern.