How Sleep Apnea Affects Pregnancy
Loud snoring is the number one sign of sleep apnea. When a woman is months into her pregnancy, she may stop breathing for brief periods of time and start back up spontaneously. This is incredibly uncomfortable for both mother and her bed partner.
During the stages of pregnancy, exhaustion and tiredness caused by sleep apnea can mimic normal pregnancy signs as well. Oftentimes, for the new mother, it’s difficult to tell the difference between sleep apnea or just being an expectant mother. The symptoms are very similar.
If daytime sleepiness persists, or you doze off while driving, let Dr. Huff and his professional Kerrville team know. We can order tests to see if sleep apnea is causing your tiredness.
Other symptoms include:
- Waking with a headache and/or dry mouth
- Nighttime heartburn and frequent nighttime urination
- High blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
The incidence of sleep apnea in women of childbearing age is somewhere between one to 10 percent. It’s tough to detect every time, as many people have sleep apnea without even knowing it. While restless sleep and shortness of breath are common in pregnancy, sleep apnea is rare in healthy pregnant women with uncomplicated pregnancies.
What Can An Expectant Mom Do to Prevent Sleep Apnea?
Monitoring your weight is an excellent place to start. Since newly expectant moms need to gain weight to ensure the baby is healthy and happy in her belly, it’s important to not overdo certain foods that’ll lead to unnecessary extra pounds. Sleep apnea is more prevalent in obese women, so pay attention to your weight gain.
The Best Way to Treat Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy
Our expert sleep dentist, Dr. Huff, will be able to determine what treatment options are right for you, and it depends on the severity of your sleep apnea. Three popular treatment choices include:
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) – A CPAP machine uses air pressure to keep your airway open while you sleep. A person using a CPAP machine wears a mask over her nose and sometimes the mouth while sleeping, as a tube connects the mask to a machine at the bedside that delivers positive air pressure. It may be uncomfortable as a pregnant woman, therefore other options are available.
- Oral appliances – To be an effective sleep aid, an oral appliance must be custom-made for you. There’s no such thing as an over-the-counter, one-size-fits-all oral appliance for sleep apnea. And if so, the downside to places where over-the-counter appliances are sold is they aren’t effective and can be damaging to the teeth.
- Surgery – This is the last resort, and not typically performed on pregnant women unless absolutely necessary. Surgery can be done before or after pregnancy if a structural defect is found to be the cause of your sleep apnea.
You and your baby’s health is the primary concern. If sleep apnea is detected early enough, or before you become pregnant, chances are treatment can be effective in helping with the symptoms. If the condition worsens while you’re pregnant, consult with our Kerrville, TX office, and we’ll be happy to answer any (and all) questions or concerns regarding sleep issues you may be having.
We encourage you to give us a call and have a consultation with Dr. Huff at any stage of your pregnancy, especially if you’ve experienced sleep apnea. A good night’s rest is why we’re here to help you.
FAQs About Pregnancy & Sleep Apnea
How do you deal with sleep apnea during pregnancy?
Can sleep apnea hurt my unborn baby?
Pregnant women with sleep apnea may be at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, which can be dangerous for an unborn baby. Additionally, moms-to-be with this sleep disorder are three times more likely to require a cesarean delivery.
It’s crucial to diagnose and seek treatment for sleep apnea as soon as possible so Dr. Huff can help alleviate your symptoms. Treatment will also help you throughout your pregnancy and protect your unborn child.
How common is it to develop sleep apnea during pregnancy?
An estimated 25 percent of women will experience symptoms of sleep apnea by the third trimester of pregnancy. Sleep apnea may not persist past pregnancy, but it’s crucial to seek treatment to avoid complications for both yourself and your unborn child.
What specific strategies can reduce sleep apnea symptoms during pregnancy?
Aside from traditional sleep apnea treatments like CPAP, there are other methods to help alleviate your symptoms while pregnant. Side sleeping is a great way to alleviate symptoms as it helps alleviate nasal congestion and opens your airway. You can invest in a side-sleeping pregnancy pillow to keep from flipping onto your back while you sleep.
Decongestant medications can help relieve hormone-related congestion, as this condition could contribute to symptoms of sleep apnea. Be sure to choose a medication safe for expecting mothers.
Can other conditions predispose me to sleep apnea during my pregnancy?
Certain conditions can make you more likely to develop sleep apnea during pregnancy, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Deviated septum or other breathing problems
Can you be tested for sleep apnea while pregnant?
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, don’t wait to seek treatment. When left untreated, this sleep disorder can lead to serious health complications. Sleep apnea tests are non-invasive, so they won’t have any effect on your pregnancy. To schedule a sleep test, you can call our Kerrville office at (830) 715-4484.