What's the Link Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Pregnancy?


What's the Link Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Pregnancy?

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It's no secret that sleeping is more difficult while you're pregnant. Early pregnancy insomnia, difficulty getting comfortable, and numerous late-night potty stops can all make getting adequate sleep challenging, even when you need it.

You may notice that you start snoring as your pregnancy continues.

But it turns out that there's another factor that makes obtaining enough good sleep difficult: sleep apnea, a disorder that studies estimate affects up to 26% of all pregnancies.

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder in which your breathing periodically stops while you sleep, causing you to wake up.

During the night, your upper airway, which includes the base of your tongue and soft palate, becomes partially or completely obstructed or collapses, halting your breathing for 10 seconds or longer.

Hundreds of times during the night, this happens. When your breathing returns to normal, you may snore loudly or even gasp or choke.

During pregnancy, what causes obstructive sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea can be caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy.

Hormones, for example, can cause the mucus membranes in your nose to swell, making you feel more clogged than usual – leading to snoring and sleep apnea.

Another hormone, progesterone, activates muscles, which might cause your airway to relax and lead to sleep apnea.

Furthermore, as you gain weight during your pregnancy, your airways may become more obstructed, making it more difficult to breathe at night.

Your uterus and baby are also putting pressure on your lungs, lowering air volume and speeding up your breathing.

As your pregnancy advances, you'll be less likely to sleep on your back, which raises your risk of sleep apnea.

What are the dangers of having obstructive sleep apnea when pregnant?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which the quality of your sleep is disrupted. As a result, if you have sleep apnea, you will most likely wake up feeling tired and groggy. This is because each time your breathing pauses, you will partially awaken to force yourself to breathe again, resulting in a shallower sleep.

For you

Sleep apnea, when left untreated, has a negative impact on your overall health because when you stop breathing, your blood oxygen level drops and your heart rate rises.

That's why, even if you're not pregnant, the illness can put you at risk for or contribute to a variety of other health problems, including:

·       illness of the heart

·       depression

·       stroke

·       Diabetes

·       memory loss.

·       blood pressure that is too high

·       Asthma

·       high cholesterol

·       acid reflux

·       immune system dysfunction

Sleep apnea, on the other hand, can increase the risk of gestational hypertension (high blood pressure) and gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

It has also been linked to:

·       protracted labour

·       unscheduled cesarian sections.

·       preeclampsia, which can result in organ damage, stillbirth, and death.

·       Obesity Hypoventilation syndrome is a breathing problem in which your blood contains too much carbon dioxide but not enough oxygen.

For baby

Sleep apnea can create alterations in your blood vessels, lowering the volume of blood pushed by your heart, because interruptions in breathing can trigger surges in blood pressure. This can impair blood flow to the baby through the placenta, resulting in a decline in oxygen levels in the newborn.

This can result in a dip in your baby's heart rate or acidosis. It can also cause foetal growth restriction, a disease in which your baby does not grow as predicted while in the womb, resulting in their being smaller than their gestational age.

When sleep is disrupted during pregnancy, the quantity of growth hormone released is reduced, which can lead to not only growth but also developmental disorders. It can also increase your baby's risk of premature birth, as well as health problems and even death.

During pregnancy, who is more prone to develop obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea can affect any pregnant woman.

If you have obesity, gain weight too quickly during pregnancy, or have gestational diabetes, your risk is increased. If you have a deviated septum or a broader neck, you're more prone to get it.

How to know if you're pregnant and have obstructive sleep apnea

In general, sleep apnea makes you feel weary, foggy, and irritated in the morning.

Other signs and symptoms to look out for include:

·       teeth grinding

·       throat irritation

·       At night, my heart is racing.

·       irritability

·       morning headaches

·       Having difficulty sleeping

Your partner or anybody else who watches you sleep might notice that you're snoring louder, that you're gagging or choking, or that you stop breathing for 10 seconds or more at a time.

How is obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed during pregnancy?

It's critical to tell your OB-GYN or healthcare professional if you or a loved one suspects you have sleep apnea throughout your pregnancy.

Your doctor will most likely ask you about your symptoms before examining your mouth, nose, and throat.

They may also refer you to a sleep specialist, who will do a sleep study (also known as polysomnography) to assess your airflow, breathing patterns, and blood oxygen levels while you sleep.

This will aid them in determining the severity of your sleep apnea and developing an effective treatment strategy for you.

What are the options for treating obstructive sleep apnea while pregnant?

Treatment will be determined by the degree of your sleep apnea and the symptoms you're experiencing.

Your doctor will most likely advise you to start with adhesive breathing strips, which assist open up your nostrils and allow you to breathe more easily while sleeping.

They may also suggest saline sprays, saline rinses, and humidifiers in your sleeping area to aid with any nasal congestion you're experiencing.

They may also provide an over-the-counter decongestant that is safe to take during pregnancy in some cases; however, always see your doctor before taking any medication on your own.

They may also suggest some dietary changes to assist you in gaining weight at a healthy rate throughout your pregnancy.

They may prescribe the following in more serious cases of sleep apnea:

·       Patches for sleep apnea

·       continuous positive airway pressure machine with a customised mouthpiece (CPAP)

·       fitting by your dentist to maintain your jaw forward and tongue in a different posture

CPAP devices, which require you to wear a mask over your nose and mouth while sleeping, are frequently covered by insurance. This mask provides a mild, constant flow of air to keep your airways open and allow you to breathe normally.

What you can do at home to help prevent obstructive sleep apnea while you're pregnant?

If your sleep apnea isn't severe, your doctor will likely give you some home remedies to try before ordering a CPAP machine.

These can include:

Sleep positions

Sleeping on your back may aggravate sleep apnea. As a result, your doctor will advise you to sleep on your left side while pregnant.

Consider obtaining a body pillow or cushion wedge to help you feel more comfortable on your side if this isn't your regular sleeping position — or if you keep waking up to find that you've rolled over in your sleep.

You can also use anything behind your back to warn yourself not to roll into the wrong posture, such as a tennis ball strapped to your back or a hard book next to you in bed.

Healthy eating choices

Gaining weight at a doctor-recommended rate will help minimise your risk of sleep apnea, which is why, when you're pregnant, it's vital to focus on nutritious foods that keep you full — rather than snacking.

Consult your doctor if you're gaining weight too quickly or are unclear about what you can and can't consume during pregnancy. They'll be able to give some suggestions for you.

Wear nasal strips

As previously indicated, over-the-counter nasal strips can help keep your airways free and clear as you sleep, reducing snoring and sleep apnea.

What are the chances of having obstructive sleep apnea while pregnant?

In general, sleep apnea can be addressed with treatment, lowering your chance of long-term health issues.

Does it go away when the baby is born?

It is debatable.

According to research, sleep apnea improves or disappears completely during pregnancy, especially if you didn't have it previously.

In general, sleep apnea improves with weight reduction, so as your uterus returns to its normal size and you shed some of the additional weight from pregnancy, you may notice an improvement.

If you don't, tell your doctor so they can talk to you about long-term therapy alternatives.

Does it have an impact on the baby?

Although it's unknown what the long-term effects of sleep apnea on babies are after they're born, several smaller studies have suggested that there may be some.

One older study identified a link between children born to mothers who have sleep apnea and lower social development scores, while another discovered shorter telomere lengths in their DNA, which can contribute to age-related disease.

However, further research is needed before we can be certain about the long-term impacts on the baby.

In conclusion

Sleep apnea can develop during pregnancy, particularly as your baby grows in your uterus and puts pressure on your lungs, as well as as you gain weight. Hormones might also raise your chances of developing sleep apnea.

You may develop gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, preterm birth, extended labour, or an unplanned c-section as a result of this. It can also put your baby at risk of not reaching gestational milestones and not growing.

The good news is that there are therapies available, including as nasal strips and CPAP machines, that you can try. It's possible that your condition will improve once your kid arrives.

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