Sleep Through the Three Trimesters

Sleep Apnoea During Pregnancy

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If your snoring has become excessively loud then it is possible that you are suffering from a condition known as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

What is sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea is where the flow of air to the lungs is obstructed. Sleep Apnoea can only occur while you are asleep, and is only recognised medically if the breaks in breathing last for more than 10 seconds and occur more than 10 times per hour. The condition is characterised by loud snoring, followed by periods with no breathing, and then a loud gasp as your brain automatically wakes you up in order to resume breathing. If you are experiencing this condition then you might not be aware of what it is that is waking you up, your partner is more likely to let you know that this is happening as it will probably be keeping them awake too.

Some women find that they develop sleep apnoea while they are pregnant. If this is the case then it is more than likely to go away after you have had your baby, but you will need to speak to your doctor for advice while you do have it.

If you sleep alone and are concerned that this may be happening to you then you could try making a recording of yourself whilst you sleep, and checking it in the morning to see whether your breathing pattern shows symptoms of sleep apnoea.

Should I be worried about sleep apnoea?

One of the main side effects of sleep apnoea is tiredness, because it causes you to wake up a lot during the night. Since tiredness is already usually a problem for women during pregnancy, additional causes of sleeplessness are undesirable to say the least.

If left untreated, sleep apnoea is thought to increase the chances of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. So if you are concerned that you are experiencing any of the symptoms then do make sure that you let your doctor or midwife know.

How is sleep apnoea treated?

The first thing that you can do to manage sleep apnoea is to ensure that you are sleeping on your side every night, and not on your back. There are a number of other reasons why you should not sleep on your back while you are pregnant, so look into ways of helping yourself to stay on your side (preferably your left side) through the night. If your symptoms are mild then side sleeping could be all you need to do to get a better night's sleep.

You may be given a mouthpiece to wear at night, which is designed to shift the lower jaw forward, opening your airway and allowing a better flow of air as you breath. Depending on the extent to which you are experiencing the condition, you may be given a machine that provides you with a flow of oxygen through the night (you will need to wear a face mask).

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This internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult a doctor or other healthcare professional.