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Sleep Apnea during Pregnancy

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Sleep Apnea during Pregnancy

More than 75% of pregnant women claim that they experience sleeplessness, especially during the later stages of pregnancy. As the baby grows bigger inside the womb, mothers-to-be find it increasingly uncomfortable to get a good night’s sleep. While most obstetricians find it a normal condition in pregnancy, what they don’t find normal is the risk of developing sleep apnea in pregnancy. Sleep apnea in pregnancy is a rare condition, but is likely to develop in mothers with a history of sleep disorders or even randomly due to hormonal and metabolic imbalances.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition wherein the patient stops breathing frequently while sleeping. These pauses in breathing cause oxygen deficiency in the body, resulting in frequent sleep disturbances. The condition in itself can cause deterioration in lifestyle and prove to be fatal. But sleep apnea in pregnancy can be doubly dangerous; not just for the mother, but for the baby as well.

Sleep Apnea Pregnancy Risk

Pregnant women are at an elevated risk of developing sleep apnea in pregnancy, due to elevated estrogen levels. The hormonal surge causes mucus membranes lining the airways to swell and constrict air flow. The sleep apnea pregnancy risk is further amplified in women who are either overweight or gain excessive weight during pregnancy. Sleep apnea in pregnancy can also be caused due to the following risk factors –

  • Mom-to-be having gestational diabetes has a higher sleep apnea pregnancy risk

  • Precedence of allergies or illness in the pregnant mother also increases the risk of developing sleep apnea in pregnancy

  • Physical attributes like large tongue, deviated septum and enlarged adenoids increases the sleep apnea pregnancy risk as well

Dangers of Sleep Apnea in Pregnancy

Sleep Apnea in pregnancy could become the underlying cause of health complications in both the pregnant mother and the baby. Developing sleep apnea in pregnancy and not getting it treated can cause –

  • Pregnancy miscarriage if the mother develops sleep apnea in first trimester of pregnancy itself

  • Gestational diabetes in both mother and child

  • Preeclampsia or Pregnancy Induced Hypertension

  • Premature and underweight birth

  • Breathing disorders in the baby

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Pregnancy

It is vital for a mom-to-be to get sleep apnea diagnosed and treated in time. If left unchecked, the condition can soon deteriorate and cause several health complications. Sleep Apnea pregnancy risk can be identified by the following symptoms –

  • Loud snoring and choking or sputtering sounds made during sleep can indicate sleep apnea in pregnancy

  • Sustained nausea, dizziness and headaches in all trimesters of pregnancy

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue is also caused by sleep apnea in pregnancy

  • Night-time heartburn and frequent urination at night

Several of these symptoms can be written off as normal indicators of an advancing pregnancy; therefore, to be absolutely sure about sleep apnea pregnancy risk, getting a sleep study done is prudent.

Treatment for Sleep Apnea in Pregnancy

A sleep specialist can conduct a medical sleep study to determine whether you are developing sleep apnea in pregnancy or not. While in some conditions, weight management and ENT treatment can dramatically reduce sleep apnea pregnancy risk, in most cases specialized sleep treatment is required. CPAP is a world gold standard treatment device for sleep apnea, recommended by most sleep specialists.

CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine is used to improve breathing during sleep and reduce sleep disturbances. Positive effects of the treatment can be observed in a matter of weeks and improve the health of both the mother and the baby.

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