Sleep Apnea and Pregnancy
Summary: Sleep apnea can happen to anyone and it can be a serious problem, especially to pregnant women. If you suspect that you have sleep apnea and you are concerned that oxygen deprivation and sleep deprivation can harm the baby, see a doctor for solutions. CPAP therapy can be a big help. This blog discusses sleep apnea in pregnant women and how it can be harmful, but there are things to do to help you both and baby.
You might be finding it harder to sleep now that you are pregnant. Sleep disturbances during pregnancy are common, but are they harmful to mom or baby? Normal sleep disturbances are often just a consequence of the changes in your body at this time, but what if you have, or suspect that you have, sleep apnea? Sleep apnea can deprive you of sleep and sometimes it can deprive you and the baby of oxygen as well, so it is a serious problem if it is left unaddressed.
Often people are not aware that they have sleep apnea, and to make it more complicated, the symptoms of sleep apnea are similar to normal pregnancy body changes. You may be experiencing things such as loud snoring, disrupted sleep, headaches when you wake, heartburn, frequent waking to urinate in the night, weight gain, and excessive tiredness in the daytime. Is it sleep apnea, or just pregnancy?
People with sleep apnea can wake very briefly as many as 10 to 30 times in one hour without even realizing it in order to take a breath, and this does become a problem if the supply of oxygen to your body is compromised. Have a test done as soon as possible if this is something that you suspect because the sooner it is addressed, the better things will be for the baby. Women are more likely to develop sleep apnea during pregnancy and after pregnancy, but it is not common in healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies. However, since weight gain is one of the things that make sleep apnea worse, and a pregnancy weight gain of more than 20 - 35 pounds can be a contributing factor to developing sleep apnea at this time. Higher levels of estrogen also increase the risk for pregnant women.
If you are not getting enough oxygen while you sleep, the risks of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia are higher and mothers with obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to require a caesarian. More babies with oxygen-deprived mothers are more likely to require time in a neonatal ICU, often due to higher instances of early delivery and low birth weight. Appropriate treatment as soon as possible increases your chances of having a healthy baby. As well, look at other behaviours that can be harmful to your weight gain or breathing concerns. Even a small amount of exercise can help with breathing; stop smoking and keep an eye on your diet and weight gain throughout the pregnancy.
Certainly, sometimes snoring is just snoring, but not always. The physical changes in your body could be a contributing factor to the congestion of mucous and excess tissue in the airways, and sleep apnea can develop. A CPAP machine can help to keep your airways open as you sleep. All that is needed is to find the right device for you and then wear a mask over your nose, or your nose and mouth, connected to a machine beside the bed that will deliver positive air pressure while you sleep. See a sleep specialist at CPAP Solutions Inc. to find a CPAP machine that is comfortable for you and let the positive changes in your sleep and pregnancy experience begin immediately.