Snoring During Pregnancy
Snoring is a fairly common problem when pregnant, especially in the third trimester. According to one study, about 25% of the women experienced occasional snoring and another 25% experienced frequent snoring. Many women stop snoring within a few months after giving birth.
Weight gain is a big cause of snoring while pregnant (this is why many women don’t have this problem until later in their pregnancy). Extra weight can increase the size of the neck, thus causing the upper airways to become narrow. During sleep, the airways narrow even more because of the relaxation of muscles. Women who were overweight before pregnancy have a higher risk of snoring when pregnant.
Swollen nasal passages can also contribute to snoring during pregnancy. A hormonal imbalance, higher levels of estrogen, causes the mucous membranes in the nose to swell and causes more mucus to be produced. An increase in blood volume can also cause the mucous membranes to swell. Having allergies or a cold can make matters worse.
Chronic snoring can cause restless nights and sleepiness during the daytime hours.
If you are having frequent and loud snoring during pregnancy, it may be a sign of sleep apnea. This is when the airway becomes blocked and breathing stops for a few seconds or more before one gasps for air. This can happen many times throughout the night without the person realizing it.
Frequent snoring is also believed to lead to preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
To help stop snoring during pregnancy:
- Maintain a healthy weight gain.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, and sleeping pills. All of these factors (which should be avoided during pregnancy anyway) can cause the airways to narrow.
- Avoid sleeping on your back. Instead, sleep on your side with your head slightly elevated.
- At night, use a warm-mist humidifier (especially when the air is dry).
- Wear a nasal strip.
Even though snoring during pregnancy can be harmless, you should inform your health care provider.
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