Some women have never snored until they became pregnant. It feels weird, certainly embarrassing and definitely not like you to snore, especially when you have never snored before in your whole life. So why now, you wonder! Pregnancy brings many changes to your respiratory system which affects sleep and also causes you to snore.
- Up to 25-30% of pregnant women snore (so you are not alone!).
- Hormones like oestrogen and progesterone increase remarkably during pregnancy giving rise to snoring.
- Anybody can be a candidate for mild to severe snoring during any part of their pregnancy.
- The increase in blood volume is also responsible for nasal congestion as it causes the blood vessels to expand. This expansion in the nasal area causes the mucus membrane to expand as well.
- It is more common during the second half of the pregnancy and even more pronounced during the last trimester.
- During pregnancy the nasal passages swell and become congested. The upper airway narrows and makes you more prone to snoring.
Some things that you can practice to prevent or reduce snoring include:
- Sleep on your side rather than your back. Sleeping on your back can block your airway (in any case you should be sleeping on your sides now that you are pregnant!).
- Prop up your head with extra pillows; sleeping in elevated positions will help keep your airways open.
- Keep your weight in check. Overweight women are in particular at higher risk of developing snoring-related problems. Studies indicate that women who were regularly snoring during pregnancy had weight issues prior to becoming pregnant and ended up gaining more weight than the desired level during pregnancy.
- Try using nasal strips and tape it to the bridge of your nose to help increase the area of your nasal passages and airways.
- Cut back on caffeine to zero as it narrows down the airways and can cause you to snore more.
- On a more serious note snoring can have not too pleasant repercussions.
- Snoring can be related to hypertension.
- Women who snore during pregnancy are at increased risk of having pregnancy induced high BP or preeclampsia.
- Snoring during pregnancy also increases the risk of slowed fetal growth, low birth weight babies and babies with lower apgar scores.
- Snoring can also be a sign of sleep apnea or sleep disorder where the breathing ceases for short intervals during sleep. This causes lack of oxygen to disrupt the mother's sleep and stress the fetus. It can keep the mother from feeling rested and on a more dangerous level, cause heart and BP complications.
When to seek help
- If you experience loud snoring, if your snoring wakes you up frequently or if your partner feels that your snoring is interrupted by periods of stopped breathing, contact your care provider. Alerting your doctor will ensure you and your unborn baby get the necessary help.
- Because of poor sleep quality in the nights, most women with this problem tend to feel very lethargic and sleepy in the day. These signs are indicative of obstructive sleep apnea.
- Appropriate treatment will be recommended which will help improve sleep, prevent snoring and apnea and to an extent improve your BP problems.