Sleep difficulties are common while you are expecting, but snoring during pregnancy is the one problem that might keep your partner awake more than you.
Causes of Snoring During Pregnancy
Many women who have never snored before may find out that they've started during pregnancy. For some women, the snoring may start early in pregnancy. However, most will start once their belly starts growing. In many cases, the mother-to-be may not even be aware that she is snoring until her partner wakes her up with an elbow to a ribs or complains about it the next morning.
What's the cause of snoring during pregnancy? There are several things that may contribute:
- Weight gain: People who are overweight are more likely to snore in general, not just during pregnancy. This is caused by extra tissue in the throat that can constrict breathing, making it harder to get deep enough breathes. A mom who may have had a few extra pounds before pregnancy is more likely to gain excess weight during her nine months. The weight gain of pregnancy alone is sometimes enough to cause snoring, even in a woman who was petite before conceiving.
- Increased blood flow: The pressure and swelling you feel in your nose during pregnancy isn't your imagination. Even though it seems like your sinuses should be unaffected by hormones, the increase of estrogen throughout your body can actually make the inside of your nose swell. This puts more pressure on your nostrils, making it more difficult to breath. During the day, you may not even notice that it's harder to breath, but at night, your body takes over and you start mouth-breathing to bring in adequate air flow.
- Colds and allergies: When you're not pregnant, you might just pop some allergies pills when pollen season kicks up. And if you get hit by a cold, there's plenty of over-the-counter medications that can help open your stuffy nose. But, since a lot of those medications are off-limits during pregnancy, you have little choice other than to suffer from the symptoms.
How to Treat Pregnancy Snoring
Although you might not be able to use the standard remedies for a stuffy nose that leads to snoring during pregnancy, there are some more holistic approaches that can still work.
- Nasal strips: These over-the-counter sticky strips look similar to band aids and fit over the bridge of your nose. The band uses gentle pressure to help open your nasal passages without the use of any medications.
- Elevate: Keeping your head higher than the rest of your body can help the nasal passages drain easier. Try folding your pillow in half to double its height or roll of a towel and place it under the pillow.
- Stay off your back: Sleeping flat on your back increases the chances of your mouth opening, leading to that buzz saw noise. If you find yourself rolling onto your back during the night, try placing a body pillow behind you as you fall asleep on your side. The pillow will make it harder for you to roll over.
- Steam: Breathing in steam from your sink or a warm humidifier right before bed can help open up your nose. A cup of hot tea might have similar results, but avoid anything with caffeine that will keep you up longer.
Snoring: What's the Big Deal?
Since your snoring bothers your family members more than you, it might seem like it's no big deal. But, snoring during pregnancy can actually cause problems for both you and your baby, especially if it develops into sleep apnea. This condition can cause your breathing to stop altogether for a few brief moments throughout the night. Your body will usually compensate by taking a very deep, gasping breath, which can wake you up. Not only does this cause you a restless night, it can also cause a decrease in oxygen levels for you and the baby. Doctors can treat sleep apnea by having the patient sleep with a special mask on, but it's important to get diagnosed early so treatment can begin. Some studies have also shown a relationship between snoring during pregnancy and gestational diabetes.
Be sure to bring up any snoring, even if it's mild, to your doctor. In most cases, the snoring goes away after pregnancy and doesn't have any long term effects, but this can be an indicator of other problems that need to be addressed.