Breathing patterns while you are asleep may show some changes during pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses, pregnant women slowly advance from soft to loud snoring, temporary disruptions and pauses in breathing process. All these conditions characterize the problem called sleep apnoea.
The incidence of obstructive sleep apnoea in women of child conceiving age is somewhere between 1 to 10 % (accuracy with this percentage is difficult, since many people suffer from this disorder without knowing it). This disorder is common in women who suffer from gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia.
Sleep apnoea as it happens during pregnancy in women has clearly-identified risk factors, symptoms, and treatments. Figure out how obstructive sleep apnoea may impact women during pregnancy and what treatment measures can be adopted to address the condition to ensure the health of both mother and child.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnoea During Pregnancy
The primary symptom of sleep apnoea is loud snoring. Other symptoms include heartburn during night time, frequent urination in the night (however, it is important to keep in mind that urge to pee frequently during night is a common symptom during pregnancy too, so it is not a sure-fire sign), waking with a dry mouth and/or headache
Extreme sleepiness during daytime in pregnancy is also a sign of sleep apnoea. It can be difficult to figure out the distinction between normal pregnancy tiredness and exhaustion as a result of sleep apnoea, but if you notice that you are feeling extremely sleepy and zonked during the day time, or are dozing off while driving, tell your physician.
Your doctor will do some tests to confirm if your sleep apnoea is causing your exhaustion or and night time urination.
How Do Pregnant Women Get Sleep Apnoea?
During pregnancy, would be mother experiences many physiological changes that may contribute to the development of sleep apnoea. Pregnancy hormones can congest the mucous membranes of the upper airway; that congestion can increase the likelihood of sleep apnoea.
Sleep apnoea issue can be mostly witnessed in pregnant women with gestational diabetes and/or high blood pressure, but high B.P and gestational diabetes do not seem to cause sleep apnoea.
What Are the Risks of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea During Pregnancy?
Maternal complications include;
- Low blood-oxygen levels
- Risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, obesity, depression and heart failure
- Pregnancy induced hypertension
- Recurrent early miscarriage
- Gestational diabetes
- Risk of caesarean section
- Risk of aspiration
- A higher risk of preterm birth among pregnant women with confirmed OSA than normal weight
After delivery, women with sleep apnoea are at risk for severe respiratory suppression and medications which suppress respiration should be limited in use.
Fatal Complications include;
- Fatal microsomia
- Shoulder dystocia
- Continental malformations
- Unexplained still birth
How Does Sleep Apnoea Affect the Foetus?
The problem of Sleep apnoea during pregnancy has been associated with preeclampsia, preterm delivery, gestational diabetes, and low birth weight. Fortunately, several treatments and therapies are in place that ensures your chances of having a healthy baby.
Tests for Sleep Apnoea
A definitive test of sleep apnoea is the sleep study. Using specialized equipment and monitors, healthcare professionals can assess your breathing, oxygen levels, sleep stage, body movement and heart, lung and brain function while you sleep. A sleep study will reveal if you stop breathing during the night, and if so, how often and to what degree. It allows a doctor to determine and ascertain if your snoring or brief pauses in breath are no big deal, or if they interfere with the supply of oxygen to your body.
Sleep Apnoea During Pregnancy – Treatment Options
Management of women with sleep apnoea should be multidisciplinary and include specialists in Sleep Medicine and Anaesthesiology. The most common treatment options available include;
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)-A CPAP equipment makes use of air pressure to keep the air passage open while you are asleep. A person that has problem of sleep apnoea using a CPAP machine wears a mask over the mouth and nose while sleeping; a hose like tube is connecting the mask to the equipment at the bedside delivering positive air pressure. CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) treatment is highly effective for obstructive sleep apnoea.
- Bilevel therapy – In critical and severe cases for example, in twin pregnancy or in pregnancy with associated obesity, or in twin pregnancy, bilevel therapy is recommended and employed. A proper adjustment of pressure settings which are used in these therapies during pregnancy is required. The pressure will need to be increased as the weight gain occurs. In rare cases, the use of supplemental oxygen, or a surgical procedure called a tracheostomy, may be required.
- Oral appliances –Over-the-counter, one-size-fits-all oral appliances do not exist for treating sleep apnoea. These oral appliances are usually custom made and can keep the airway open while sleeping.
- Surgery – Surgery is usually not recommended during pregnancy unless really necessary. If there is a structural defect that is causing your sleep apnoea, then the surgery can be performed before or after pregnancy.
Few lifestyle changes are effective methods to treat signs of sleep apnoea. Some tips that may help alleviate sleep apnoea severity:
- Keep your weight under check – During pregnancy, you gain some extra pounds that may become a cause of sleep apnoea. A constant check on weight gain is important and helpful too.
- Avoid alcohol – It relaxes the air way muscles and the muscle tissue relaxes, an increase in pressure may be required to keep the air passage open.
- Quit smoking – Smoking cigarette worsens inflammation in the upper airway, making snoring and apnoea worse.
How do Pregnant Women Prevent Sleep Apnoea?
For pregnant women, monitoring weight is important in order to prevent sleep apnoea. This disorder is seen in higher percentage in obese women. During pregnancy, women gain around twenty-five to thirty-five pounds. In case women who are obese become pregnant, they need to ensure that their weight gain is between eleven to twenty pounds.