Many expectant mothers find that their sleep quality during pregnancy is sub par due to their changing bodies. The hormones produced during pregnancy also increase a woman's chance of suffering from sleep apnea. When you suffer from sleep apnea, you literally stop breathing while you are asleep. This can occur multiple times throughout the night.
Sleep apnea increases the likelihood that you will suffer from high blood pressure, a stroke, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. Follow these simple tips to safely manage sleep apnea while pregnant.
1. Monitor your weight gain.
Obesity increases your chances of suffering from sleep apnea, making it important to keep your weight gain at a healthy level:
- If you were at an average weight before your pregnancy, it is advised that you gain 25 to 35 pounds.
- Underweight women should gain between 28 and 40 pounds.
- It is recommended that overweight women gain 15 to 25 pounds.
Generally, pregnant women only need 300 extra calories a day. Sticking to a healthy diet and maintaining light exercise helps women control their weight gain.
2. Consider using a CPAP.
Individuals who suffer from sleep apnea experience a collapsing of their airways. A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine uses air pressure to keep the airway open as you sleep. You wear a mask that fits comfortably over your mouth and nose. A tube connects the mask to a machine that blows air through the tube.
The machine has different settings to ensure it meets the patient's needs. A sleep study and follow up with your doctor will inform you what your settings should be.
Some CPAP users find the machine to initially be uncomfortable to use. However, this is often remedied by switching to a different mask.
3. Sleep on your side.
It is recommended that pregnant woman sleep on their side rather than their back. Not only does sleeping on the back hamper the flow of blood to and from the uterus, it also increases the chances that your airway becomes blocked.
You may find that you start out sleeping on your side, but wind up on your back at some point throughout the night. Use a pregnancy pillow to help cradle and support your body. The pillow can help encourage you to stay on your side.
4. Tend to any allergies.
Allergies are another cause of airway blockage at night. Though pregnant women are limited as to what medications they can take, consulting with their doctor can help them determine if any allergy medications are safe to use.
Regular use of saline drops and a humidifier may also help relieve congestion and keep the airway open.
Untreated sleep apnea is dangerous for pregnant women and their babies. Fortunately, expectant mothers can take steps to effectively control their sleep apnea.