Pregnancy-Related Sleep Apnea

Sleep Well Throughout Your Pregnancy

Pregnant woman waking up happy

When you’re expecting a baby, your body begins to change in many ways. Unfortunately, these changes can be accompanied by new health challenges you may have never experienced before. A common problem among pregnant women is the development of sleep apnea. Whether your sleep apnea symptoms are new or worsened with pregnancy, finding a treatment method to help new mothers get a better night’s sleep is crucial. 

At Silver Spring Sleep Solutions, our Silver Spring, MD, sleep specialist Dr. Alice Bassford understands the challenges of pregnancy and sleep apnea. That’s why she creates high-quality solutions for expectant mothers with sleep apnea to help them get restful sleep throughout their pregnancy and beyond. 

Sleep Apnea and Pregnancy: The Links

Sleep apnea and pregnancy are distinct conditions that can intertwine and create unique challenges for expectant mothers. The hormonal and physiological changes during pregnancy can contribute to sleep apnea symptoms and potentially affect the pregnant woman and her baby.

How Does Sleep Apnea Affect Pregnancy?

Sleep apnea can have several implications for a pregnant woman. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Sleep Quality: The interruptions in breathing characteristic of sleep apnea can disrupt a pregnant woman’s sleep, leading to fatigue and daytime sleepiness.
  • Gestational Hypertension: Sleep apnea has been linked to an increased risk of developing gestational hypertension, a condition characterized by high blood pressure during pregnancy.
  • Preeclampsia: Preeclampsia, a severe form of gestational hypertension, is also more prevalent among women with sleep apnea.
  • Gestational Diabetes: Studies suggest that sleep apnea may contribute to the development of gestational diabetes, a condition characterized by high blood sugar levels during pregnancy.

How Does Pregnancy Impact Sleep Apnea?

Pregnancy-related changes can also affect the severity of pre-existing sleep apnea symptoms in the following ways:

  • Weight Gain: Many women experience weight gain during pregnancy, which can exacerbate sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can contribute to nasal congestion and increased airway resistance, potentially worsening sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Increased Blood Volume: Pregnancy leads to an increase in blood volume, which can cause swelling of the upper airway, further obstructing breathing during sleep.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy

Detecting sleep apnea during pregnancy is crucial for timely intervention and management. Understanding the symptoms and seeking medical advice is essential for both the mother’s well-being and the baby’s development.

Common symptoms of sleep apnea during pregnancy:

  • Loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Insomnia

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy

If you suspect sleep apnea, consult our Silver Spring sleep dentist Dr. Bassford, who may recommend a sleep study or polysomnography. This test monitors various physiological parameters during sleep to diagnose sleep apnea accurately.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use CPAP during pregnancy?

Women with pre-existing OSA and an established CPAP treatment should continue with their treatment plan during pregnancy. Their CPAP prescription may need to be adjusted around the 24-week mark of pregnancy due to induced nasal congestion and an increased BMI. Women with untreated OSA during pregnancy should immediately seek help to prevent any possible health consequences for both themselves and their unborn baby.

Can sleep apnea harm an unborn baby?

Women with untreated sleep apnea during pregnancy face several health risks to themselves, as well as to their unborn children. Research shows that pregnant women with sleep apnea are more likely to develop preeclampsia, a high blood pressure condition. Babies born to women with obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to be delivered via cesarean section and are admitted at higher rates to neonatal intensive care units.

Can sleep apnea improve after giving birth?

In some cases, sleep apnea symptoms may improve after giving birth, particularly if they were primarily related to weight gain or hormonal changes during pregnancy. However, you should consult with a healthcare professional for a proper assessment.

Are there any long-term effects of sleep apnea on the mother or the baby?

Untreated sleep apnea during pregnancy can pose long-term risks for the mother and the baby. These may include cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, developmental issues in the baby, and an increased likelihood of sleep apnea later in life for the child.

Don’t Hesitate — Reach Out To Dr. Bassford Today

Managing sleep apnea during pregnancy is crucial for the health and well-being of you and your developing baby. Understanding the connection between sleep apnea and pregnancy, recognizing the symptoms, and seeking timely medical intervention with our sleep dentist in Silver Spring are the best way to reduce risks and ensure a healthy pregnancy. 

By implementing lifestyle modifications, considering appropriate therapies like CPAP or oral appliances, and following expert advice from Dr. Bassford, expectant mothers can navigate sleep apnea with confidence throughout their entire pregnancy journey. Contact our Silver Spring sleep dentist’s office by calling (240) 234-0948 or filling out our online contact form. We look forward to meeting new patients in and around Washington, South Kensington, and South Four Corners.