According to Sleep Foundation, at least 30 percent of women snore during their pregnancy. With already so much going on, snoring can become an added burden during pregnancy. Not only does it affect the sleeping schedule of the mom-to-be herself, but also her partner.
Snoring in pregnancy is no doubt distressing and needs to be tackled responsibly. It is an area that is surrounded by myths and misconceptions. That’s why most women are quite uncomfortable discussing this topic.
This article has everything you need to know about snoring in pregnancy. Let’s get to know what it is about!
Top 3 Causes of Increased Snoring During Pregnancy
Snoring is pretty common among both genders but nocturnal noises during pregnancy become a major cause of concern for many.
At least 12 percent of females– who were not snorers before- start to snore during their pregnancy.
Here are the three most reasons that make a female susceptible to snore more during pregnancy.
#1: Pregnancy Leads to an Increase in Blood Volume
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that pregnancy is a complex and tricky process. From changes in the body to changes in blood, you experience a little bit of everything. The latter exacerbates the snoring problem for many pregnant women.
It is simply because of the blood volume increase between 40 to 50 percent during pregnancy.
The increase is necessary for the following reasons:
- There’s another human growing inside you.
- It protects you in case you lose excess blood during labor.
But how this change in blood volume leads to snoring during pregnancy?
Here are some possible explanations.
First, excess blood volume tends to swell some of your body parts including the areas that are directly or indirectly linked to snoring, such as airways.
Second, you feel some degree of nasal congestion or swelling which forces you to breathe through the mouth. As a result, you go through the ordeal of snoring.
#2: Pregnancy Increases Your Body Mass Index (BMI)
An increase in weight during pregnancy is inevitable.
During pregnancy, a woman would put on 10-12.5 kg of weight on an average. That’s quite a significant weight gain and it comes with repercussions as well.
At some point, it brings a change in your breathing patterns. The more the uterus expands, the greater the weight gain, the more likely you are to end up snoring.
Also, there are changes in the position of the uterus as it expands. It tends to grow upwards and outwards. As a result, the diaphragm is also pushed up lowering the residual volume in the lungs. This causes disruption in the normal flow of air and snoring becomes unavoidable.
#3: Pregnancy Change Your Breathing Patterns
Your breathing patterns change significantly as you progress in your pregnancy because there’s another life growing inside you. As the months pass by, you witness an increase in the following:
- Respiratory drive
- The amount of air you inhale and exhale
This adds pressure to your airways and eventually becomes a major cause of snoring.
Underlying Health Conditions That Put You at a Risk of Snoring During Pregnancy
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition where your breathing stops for several seconds during sleep. Snoring is one of the common signs of this condition and it worsens during pregnancy due to the reasons mentioned above.
Apart from snoring, below are some more symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.
- Morning headaches
- Fatigue and tiredness during daytime
- Sore throat after waking up
- Mood swings
- Lowered sex drive
Tip: If you have obstructive sleep apnea before you get pregnant, you should get advice from your doctor as your problem will most likely get worse when you get pregnant.
Most ENT conditions make you breathe through your mouth instead of the nose. When you get pregnant, the normal structure of the throat and airway get disrupted and most often, nasal passages are blocked.
The way you breathe and the amount of air you breathe significantly changes when suffering from ENT conditions and pregnancy makes it worse. These conditions include:
- Enlarged tonsils
- Swollen or enlarged glands in the throat (adenoids)
- Nasal polyps
- Nasal plate enlargement (Turbinate hypertrophy)
- Pharyngeal mass or nodules
Tip: You should check with an ENT specialist if you have any of the above conditions.
Other Common Factors Contributing to Snoring in Pregnancy
Medications always come with a multitude of side effects. Sometimes, the side effects can be really annoying.
For instance, anti-depressants, relaxants, and tranquilizers make you snore worse than before. These medications relax your muscles around the throat and tongue to such a degree that they start to obstruct your airways. The result is increased snoring at night.
You have to be extra cautious with taking drugs during pregnancy because you have to look after your baby as well.
Tip: Every medication should be taken under strict medical supervision to reduce side-effects.
Drinking & Smoking
Like anti-depressants, drinking alcohol and smoking also have a relaxing effect on your muscles. Also, smoking can irritate your upper airways and can make your snoring worse.
Whether you are pregnant or not, drinking and smoking are highly discouraged as it puts your overall health at risk.
Tip: Although it is recommended to avoid smoking or drinking right before bedtime, pregnant women should up on these altogether. The contents are highly harmful to the baby and the quality of your pregnancy.
The importance of adequate sleep can’t be emphasized enough, especially if you snore. Not getting enough sleep relaxes your throat muscles a bit too much causing you to snore whenever you sleep.
Tip: Maintain an early to rise, early to bed routine.
Snoring in Pregnancy: Threats and Health Risks
Pregnant snorers are at a greater risk of going through certain complications during and post-pregnancy. The health risks are not limited to you but it can put baby’s health at stake as well. After all, it is a matter of two lives.
Some common risks linked to snoring in pregnancy include the following.
Note: These risks are more common among pregnant women who are chronic snorers. Regardless, you should always consult with your healthcare provider if you are not sure about something.
High Blood Pressure
Expecting mothers are at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure if they snore. It is important to know that snoring and hypertension are closely linked. High blood pressure is risky during pregnancy as it can end up affecting your baby’s development and can lead to labor complications. In severe cases, it can put your baby’s survival at risk.
Moreover, high blood pressure in pregnancy also gives rise to complications like preeclampsia.
What is Preeclampsia?
The condition generally starts when your pregnancy is at 20 weeks. The severity of this complication can damage important organs of your body such as your liver and kidney.
Needless to say, it puts your baby’s life at risk as well. However, you can avoid it by finding ways to control snoring and hypertension.
Tip: Eat foods with low salt and spices to avoid hypertension. Also, closely monitor your blood pressure during each pregnancy visit.
Because snoring leads to hypertension and other pregnancy complications, it eventually leads to C-section which sometimes needs to be done in an emergency.
Also, snoring moms are twice as likely to deliver babies through elective C-section and are more likely to have smaller babies.
It is a proven fact that chronic snoring in pregnancy increases the risk of delivering premature babies or normal babies below the average weight.
It’s a risk because:
- Underweight babies have a weak immune system
- They have a hard time eating
- Their milestones are slightly slower than the babies with normal weight
Overcoming Snoring in Pregnancy: 4 Promising Tips
Although snoring tends to disappear once you have delivered the baby, it is advisable not to brush this problem aside. It is important for expecting mothers to control their snoring habits in a timely fashion. Not doing so may lead to a high-risk pregnancy where two lives are at stake. These simple tips can effectively help you control snoring.
Here we go!
#1: Start Sleeping on Your Side
Did you know sleep positions also elevate or alleviate snoring problems in adults?
Sleeping on your back is not recommended if you wish to get rid of snoring because it tends to compress your airway and affects the normal flow of air.
Fast fact: Sleeping on your side also ensures enough blood supply to your unborn baby.
#2: Look Before You Eat!
Eat well for yourself and the baby but don’t over-eat as it leads to weight gain.
Yes, the weight does increase naturally during pregnancy but it should not go beyond a certain level to prevent complications and of course, snoring.
Eat well-balanced meals and do not go to bed right after you are done eating. Give it some time to digest!
#3: Use Nasal Dilators
Neither they are medicated nor fragrant so you don’t have to worry about nasal dilators harming you or your baby’s health.
Nasal dilators are used to open nasal passages allowing you to breathe in peace and through the nose.
Tip: Can’t go out? No worries! Order yours online through e-commerce platforms operating in Australia.
#4: Work on Your Sleep Schedule
Sleeping 8 hours at night is better than sleeping for the same duration in the morning. A healthy sleep schedule will not only ease your snoring but also boost your unborn baby’s health.
Here are some ways to fix your sleep:
- Skip daytime naps
- Stay hydrated and eat well
- Do exercises recommended by your doctor
- Maintain a comfortable environment where you sleep
- Get done with all the tasks well on time
Snoring in Pregnancy: 4 Frequently Asked Questions
Snoring does not start right after you conceive. It gradually increases, especially when you start putting on some weight and the baby grows. Most often, it starts somewhere in the second trimester.
So here’s a piece of good news for you, it does! It will only cease after pregnancy, if:
– You were not a snorer before pregnancy
– You do not have any illness linked to snoring
Pregnancy is different for every woman. So even if there are surgeries and medications, we do not recommend you opt for one.
If the snoring habit is affecting you then it is advisable to see your doctor. Only they can recommend medical treatment because they know your history and pregnancy well.
Chronic snoring does affect your baby’s health in various ways because it creates a breeding ground for several health issues. This is why you should treat it before you conceive and also don’t delay the treatment in case snoring starts in the middle of the pregnancy.
While snoring in pregnancy is a difficult situation and in some cases, dangerous, a few measures can prevent it. However, you need to be proactive rather than reactive for the sake of your baby’s health and safe delivery. Keep your gynecologist informed at all times to avoid any unfavorable consequences.
We wish you a happy and safe pregnancy!
Dr. Muhammad Usman is a Doctor, Nutritionist, Wellness Coach and a Researcher with a deep insight into all aspects of writing related to health and science.