Are you pregnant and have been snoring lately? You could already be suffering from sleep apnea.
Pregnancy takes a woman to scores of emotional and physical changes, which is primarily caused by hormonal changes – with estrogen being the dominant hormone during pregnancy. Increase in estrogen reportedly makes the neck muscles to relax and compounded with the accumulated fats around the neck area cause snoring. Snoring during pregnancy usually occurs in the last four weeks of gestation (this accounts to 30% of pregnant women). This is normal and a preferred sleeping position like sleeping on the sides usually alters this. Most pregnant women feel more relaxed when sleeping on their sides to avoid the weight of their bellies especially during the third trimester.
For excessive or chronic snoring, it may be a sign of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is characterized by a pause in breathing for about 10 seconds resulting to oxygen-deprivation and further complicates to preemclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition that only happens during pregnancy and is associated with high blood pressure, proteinuria (protein present in urine), and swelling. Patients with preemclampsia may have any or all of the following symptoms: sleepiness during daytime, headaches, blurred vision, abnormalities in liver function and vomiting. If only one of these symptoms occur, it is not a sign of preeclampsia.
Consequently, a study found out that snoring during pregnancy is more common in women who have put on more of the ideal weight. 14% of the women who snored had pregnancy-induced hypertension. 52% of the pregnant women who habitually snored experienced edema (swelling) of the face, hands, legs, and feet compared to 30% who didn’t snore.
Meanwhile, oxygen deprivation in patients with sleep apnea has been correlated with growth retardation of the fetus and sometimes, death. If excessive snoring during pregnancy occurs, a physician’s advice needs to be sought because the condition could be devastating to the mother and unborn child. Infants born to mothers who were snoring during pregnancy frequently had lower birth weight and Apgar scores (a test taken immediately after a baby is born regarding heart rate, breathing, reflex, muscle tone, and skin color). From this study, although the causes of preemclampsia are unknown, there seems to be a correlation between snoring, preeclampsia, and to babies with lower birth weights.
An expectant woman’s condition is crucial to the development of the unborn child in same manner that a pregnant woman also needs to take care of her well-being. Snoring during pregnancy is a sign of or could lead to poor physical health which could be harmful to the mother and baby. It is important that a pregnant woman undergoes regular pre-natal checkups and reports any physical complaints to a physician.