Even though having sleeping difficulties is completely normal during pregnancy and doesn’t require any sort of intervention, there are some worrisome symptoms that you should take care of. Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder that can lead to issues such as low energy levels, decreased concentration, headaches, gestational diabetes, acid reflux, and so on.
This chronic condition can be dangerous to anyone, but pregnant women should be especially careful if they get diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. Because this condition strikes more often in pregnancy, we strongly recommend you to get proper treatment.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which the airflow gets temporarily blocked during sleep. The airway collapses and this leads to shallow breathing and moments of breathlessness. The people who experience this chronic disorder have frequent pauses in breathing (these are called ’apneas’).
Some apneas can last a few seconds, but there are also cases where a person has this pause in breathing for over a minute. As you can imagine, this can be really dangerous both for the expectant woman and her soon-to-be baby.
Overweight and Obese Women Have Higher Chances of Developing This Condition
Being overweight or obese during pregnancy can cause many problems. It’s generally recommended not to gain more than 35 pounds if your weight was normal before pregnancy, and not more than 20 pounds, in case you were obese. The main reason why overweight and obese women are more prone to developing obstructive sleep apnea is the extra weight in your neck that puts pressure on the airway.
Those women who suffer from gestational diabetes also have higher chances of developing sleep apnea during pregnancy, even though this condition can strike anyone. All moms-to-be are at higher risk because higher estrogen levels can lead to swelling in the mucous membranes in your nose, and this leads to nasal congestion.
What are the Options for Treatment If You Develop This Condition During Pregnancy?
We don’t want to keep you in a suspense any longer since you’re probably wondering about the options you have if you’re already suffering from these symptoms.
The good news is that treatment for mild sleep apnea generally consists of lifestyle changes that are eventually going to lead to alleviating these symptoms. If you’re overweight or obese, we recommend you to start with a healthy diet that’s going to help you lose weight. Additionally, for individuals who suffer from this chronic condition, it’s advised not to sleep on their backs.
But in case these issues are still being persistent and bothering you throughout pregnancy, then you should probably opt for a device such as snoring mouth guard. These are designed to reduce the effects of snoring and enhance breathing. This way you can be absolutely positive that both you and your baby/fetus are not in any danger from sleep apnea-related problems.
Know the Potential Risks of Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Advance
Now that you’re familiar with certain ways you can treat the obstructive sleep apnea, it’s time you learn the risks that are associated with it. Knowing these risks in advance can raise awareness and can help you take these matters rather seriously.
Obstructive sleep apnea is responsible for lowering blood-oxygen levels in your body because people who suffer from this condition tend to breathe less air over night. This can lead to an increase in blood pressure, and it also increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity, diabetes, depression, or heart failure.
These are all rather serious problems that can stem from something which can seem rather trivial at first glance. Pregnant women should be on the look-out even more since they’re more likely to develop conditions such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, on top of sleep apnea. All these conditions can harm the fetus or a baby if they’re not treated accordingly.
The Bottom Line
Any pregnant woman out there who’s suffering from obstructive sleep apnea should be very cautious. Even if the symptoms like headaches or feeling fatigued all the time don’t interfere too much with your regular workaday activities, we should still recommend you to consult and seek professional help. It’s paramount that you make sure that you and your baby are both completely safe.
Depending on the level of severity of these symptoms, and the number of breathing suspensions per hour, your doctor should be able to determine if you have a mild, moderate, or severe disorder. When you ascertain this, you’ll also have a clearer picture of the following steps that you should make in regards to dealing with these issues.