Babies, Bottles, and Potential Sleep Apnea?

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Alright, readers: this blog is dedicated to all my ladies. Guys, feel free to stick around if you’d like, but you have been given a heads up!

You know that saying you hear when a woman is pregnant: ‘they’re eating for two’? Everything done from the moment you become pregnant is done for two – eating, breathing, and, yes, you guessed it, sleeping. For a lot of women (at least this is what I have heard – I am just a loving aunty, haven’t had any babies yet!), pregnancy is beautiful experience. However, during this exciting time of your life, there is quite a lot to take into consideration when it comes to yours and baby’s health. As if there wasn’t enough to worry about it, we have to add sleep apnea to the list.

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We all know that when the new baby arrives, no one, aside from the baby, is getting much sleep. But did you know that your sleep deprivation can start long before the baby arrives? Mom, your ever changing hormones and physiology can cause some serious breathing issues while you are asleep. If you don’t speak with your doctor in regards to this – even if you think you are being overly cautious, it’s better to be safe than sorry – there’s a chance that your baby may develop health issues, before and after birth.

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The signs that you suffer from sleep apnea while pregnant are the same as those for when you are not pregnant – snoring (although, snoring does not mean that you automatically have sleep apnea. Keep that in mind!), a sort of choking sound while asleep, and extreme daytime sleepiness are some of the more common symptoms. While you, mom, are pregnant, it might be difficult to differentiate pregnancy exhaustion from extreme daytime sleepiness. If this is the case, please speak with your doctor. Based off that, he/she will determine what the best treatment for your symptoms will be. It is important to bear in mind that while you may enter your pregnancy well and healthy, that does not mean that you are immune to the conditions that usually accompany pregnancy (snoring, congestion, and sleep apnea).

For example: the swelling in the feet/ankles that most women experience during their pregnancy – this is known as fluid retention. This is something that most expecting mothers consider to be ‘normal,’ but what most of these mothers do not know is that as soon as they lay down that water retention is redistributed. Your swollen ankles are no longer as swollen as they were before, but now you are suffering from congestion in the neck. It is important to keep in mind that water retention is not the only thing may cause congestion; pregnant woman produce about 50% more blood throughout their pregnancy which can also cause congestion.

With the congestion, it will become difficult to breathe due to the blocking of the airway – this is what can lead to the snoring, and more than likely, sleep apnea. And of course, since you are doing everything for two now, not to mention growing and carrying another human being, you are going to gain some weight. This can also be a contributing factor to sleep apnea. Symptoms continue to get worse as you progress from one trimester to another. Through your first trimester, symptoms may be subtle – so minor that you may not even notice a chance. However, you will notice the changes throughout your second and third trimesters as you gain more weight, experience exhaustion, and there is more fluid retention/distribution.

There are a few things that an expecting mother can do to ensure that they are getting enough rest and ensure that they do no develop any breathing disorder through the pregnancy: napping when practical (meaning don’t use your pregnancy as an excuse to sleep away the entire day!), sleep on your left side (this will help with your blood circulation), use a saline nasal spray to help with congestion; regular exercise (not to much to strain yourself, but go walking for half an hour), a balanced diet (you’ll be surprised to know how this can help out with sleep apnea), and a bedside humidifier (again to help with congestion).

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And last but not least, talk to your doctor. He/She will know best to treat the symptoms that you are experiencing, and if it turns into something more serious – like sleep apnea – they can guide you through the proper treatment plan.

For more information on sleep apnea and how it can effect pregnancy, please see:

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