Pregnancy can come with a lot of joy… and a few problems as well. If you are expecting a new addition to your family, fluctuating hormones may cause you to experience frequent fatigue. However, it is important that you are aware of another possible cause of your tiredness: obstructive sleep apnea during pregnancy. This condition can have adverse effects on both mothers and their babies. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the dangers of sleep apnea, how you can identify its symptoms, and what you can do about it.
Problems Associated with Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition wherein the tissues in the upper airway repeatedly collapse during sleep, leading to pauses in breathing. Anyone can develop OSA, but it is more common among pregnant women due to heightened estrogen levels. Mothers with gestational diabetes or who gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy are at an especially high risk.
Sleep apnea does more than interrupt your sleep. It is associated with a higher risk of numerous health conditions, including:
- Gestational diabetes (it can contribute to diabetes as well as result from it)
- High blood pressure and preeclampsia
- The need for intensive care for newborns (often due to breathing problems)
Recognizing Sleep Apnea
Has your partner told you that you snore loudly, or have they expressed concern that you sometimes stop breathing while you are asleep? These are major signs that you should get tested for OSA. Other indications include:
- Frequent morning headaches
- Waking up gasping for air
- Excessive daytime drowsiness
- Frequently waking up with a sore throat
- Frequent nighttime urination
If you believe you have OSA, let your doctor know. They may refer you to a sleep clinic. At the clinic, monitors will keep track of your breathing and other vital signs for a night to determine whether you have OSA and how severe it is.
What You Can Do
If you receive an OSA diagnosis, you may have a few treatment options available to you. The most commonly prescribed solution is a CPAP machine, which forces air into the throat to prevent the blockages that lead to breathing disruptions. Another option is a custom oral appliance from a dentist. The appliance gently moves the jaw forward in order to keep the airway open. Many people find that an oral appliance is more comfortable and convenient than a CPAP.
Sleep apnea has the potential to lead to serious consequences for pregnant women and their babies. Fortunately, though, it is relatively simple to identify and treat. If you are finding it difficult to get adequate rest, it would be worth your time to talk to your doctor about this condition.
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Keith Hollinger is an experienced dentist who is a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and other prestigious organizations. He is proud to offer oral appliance therapy. If you are concerned about how sleep apnea may be affecting your health or that of your unborn child, he would be pleased to consult with you. Contact our practice at 860-430-5687.