During the stages of pregnancy, exhaustion and tiredness caused by sleep apnea can mimic normal pregnancy signs as well. Oftentimes, for the new mother, it’s difficult to tell the difference between sleep apnea or just being an expectant mother. The symptoms are very similar.
If daytime sleepiness persists, or you doze off while driving, tell your doctor. They can order tests to see if sleep apnea is causing your tiredness.
Other symptoms include:
- Waking with a headache and/or dry mouth
- Nighttime heartburn and frequent nighttime urination
- High blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
What Can An Expectant Mom Do to Prevent Sleep Apnea?
Monitoring your weight is an excellent place to start. Since newly expectant moms need to gain weight to ensure the baby is healthy and happy in her belly, it’s important to not overdo certain foods that’ll lead to unnecessary extra pounds. Sleep apnea is more prevalent in obese women, so pay attention to your weight gain.
The incidence of sleep apnea in women of childbearing age is somewhere between one to 10 percent. It’s tough to detect every time, as many people have sleep apnea without even knowing it. While restless sleep and shortness of breath are common in pregnancy, sleep apnea is rare in healthy pregnant women with uncomplicated pregnancies.
Genetics plays a role in developing sleep apnea, as does the shape of your upper airway. Obesity is also linked to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common form, mainly because excess tissue in the airway can obstruct the airway during sleep.
The Best Way to Treat Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy
Dr. Birth and her team will be able to determine what treatment options are right for you, and it depends on the severity of your sleep apnea. Three popular treatment choices include:
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) – A CPAP machine uses air pressure to keep your airway open while you sleep. A person using a CPAP machine wears a mask over her nose and sometimes the mouth while sleeping, as a tube connects the mask to a machine at the bedside that delivers positive air pressure. It may be uncomfortable as a pregnant woman, therefore other options are available.
- Oral appliances – To be an effective sleep aid, an oral appliance must be custom-made for you. There’s no such thing as an over-the-counter, one-size-fits-all oral appliance for sleep apnea. And if so, the downside to places where over-the-counter appliances are sold is they aren’t effective and can be damaging to the teeth. Dr. Birth has several to choose from, and whichever works best is up to you and your comfort.
- Surgery – This is the last resort, and not typically performed on pregnant women unless absolutely necessary. Surgery can be done before or after pregnancy if a structural defect is found to be the cause of your sleep apnea.
You and your baby’s health is the primary concern. If sleep apnea is detected early enough, or before you become pregnant, chances are treatment can be effective in helping with the symptoms. If the condition worsens while you’re pregnant, consult with Dr. Sheila Birth, who has a wealth of background education on treating sleep apnea.
We encourage you to give us a call and have a consultation with Dr. Birth at any stage of your pregnancy, especially if you have experienced sleep apnea. A good night’s rest is why we’re here to help you.