Snoring During Pregnancy: Causes and 22 Tips for Prevention

Pregnancy is a journey that often brings various health issues for expectant mothers, such as morning sickness, indigestion and heartburn, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping, including insomnia. For some women, snoring becomes a chronic issue during pregnancy. Research suggests that around 14-53% of pregnant women experience snoring. But why does snoring increase during pregnancy, and could it be a sign of an underlying health concern? If you have these concerns, let’s explore the information compiled by Mombabyblog.com in the following article.

Snoring During Pregnancy: Causes and 22 Tips for Prevention
Snoring During Pregnancy: Causes and 22 Tips for Prevention

When Does Snoring Begin?

Snoring can start as early as the second trimester, but it is most commonly noticed during the third trimester when swelling is at its highest. Each woman’s experience may vary, but it is around this time that many women realize they are keeping their household members awake.

If you’re in your first trimester and have already noticed increased snoring, it is advisable to discuss it with your doctor. It is unlikely that this is related to swelling or increased blood flow and may indicate a more serious issue.

Does Snoring Stop?

Don’t worry, your nightly symphonies of snoring won’t last forever! Once your baby is born, your body will return to its normal state, swelling will decrease, you will lose the baby weight, and the snoring should eventually stop.

Are you ready to be the one waking up due to your partner’s snoring again? Perhaps some of the methods that helped you can be applied to them too!

Is Snoring Common During Pregnancy?

It is possible that you didn’t have a snoring problem before pregnancy, or if you did, it was mild and not bothersome. However, you may have noticed that snoring has become more frequent since becoming pregnant, and this could be attributed to the changes your body is undergoing. Several studies have shown that snoring intensity and frequency worsen during pregnancy, with up to 1 in 3 individuals experiencing snoring in the third trimester due to upper airway swelling and weight gain.

Causes of Snoring During Pregnancy

Ladies and gentlemen, gather ’round for the symphony of the ages! Introducing… SNORING! Yes, that delightful sound that occurs when your nose, throat, and mouth decide to throw a party (i.e., become enlarged) and obstruct your airway. While snoring may occur at various stages of life, it tends to become more frequent as you age and is more prevalent among individuals who are overweight.

Snoring occurs more frequently during pregnancy due to the natural hormonal and bodily changes required to support the developing baby. These changes include:

Hormones

During pregnancy, your body experiences a hormonal rollercoaster ride like never before. Among these hormones are estrogen and progesterone, which play a crucial role in ensuring a smooth pregnancy. However, these hormones can cause nasal congestion, swelling of blood vessels and tissues in the upper airway, and narrowing in the mouth and throat, all of which contribute to snoring.

Weight Gain

While obesity is a risk factor for various conditions such as high blood pressure and gestational diabetes, even a small amount of weight gain can lead to snoring. One study found that gaining just 10% of body weight can increase the likelihood of snoring or sleep-disordered breathing sixfold.

Sleeping Positions

If you’ve ever slept next to someone who snores, you may have noticed that their snoring worsens when they sleep in certain positions, usually on their back. Sleeping on your back can also cause other issues during the second and third trimesters. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends sleeping on your side with your legs bent and supported by a pregnancy pillow. This position allows for peaceful sleep and helps alleviate any additional back pain.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

You may have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) without being aware of it. OSA is a form of sleep-disordered breathing characterized by snoring and increased breathing efforts that can cause temporary cessation of breathing. OSA is more common among older individuals, those who are overweight, take sedatives, smoke tobacco, and consume alcohol.

OSA is often underdiagnosed, with one study suggesting that 90% of women with OSA are unaware of their condition. Unfortunately, it is challenging to diagnose OSA during pregnancy (most cases are identified prior to pregnancy), but if you suspect you may have it, it is important to consult with your obstetrician. OSA is a serious problem that requires specialized testing during a sleep study.

Can Snoring Pose Risks During Pregnancy?

In most cases, snoring during pregnancy is not harmful or a cause for concern. However, it can indicate something more serious in certain situations. It is important to discuss your snoring with your doctor to determine if it could be problematic.

Here are some common issues that snoring may indicate in pregnant women:

– High blood pressure: Snoring can contribute to high blood pressure, which is dangerous for both you and your baby. Managing snoring can help prevent this complication.

– Sleep apneSnoring increases the risk of experiencing periods without breathing. Although these instances are brief, they can be risky for your baby if your body is deprived of oxygen.

– Gestational diabetes: If you have not yet undergone the glucose test, it is important to do so. Sometimes snoring can be a side effect of this condition.

– Low birth weight: Snoring can worsen inflammation in the body, which may result in low birth weight. While this is not always the case, it is worth discussing with your doctor.

Although some of these conditions may seem concerning, most problems can be resolved if detected early. Modern medicine has advanced to safely manage the delivery of your baby, even if you encounter difficulties related to snoring during pregnancy.

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) devices may be prescribed for true sleep apnea cases. These devices are effective but are typically recommended for women with preexisting sleep apnea rather than just snoring during pregnancy.

Does Snoring Worsen During Pregnancy?

If you did not snore before becoming pregnant, it is likely that you are experiencing snoring now, and its frequency may increase as your pregnancy progresses.

Snoring in Early Pregnancy

Snoring during early pregnancy is often a continuation of pre-pregnancy snoring and may indicate obstructive sleep apnea. The changes in your body during early pregnancy do not typically cause significant airway issues as they do later in pregnancy.

Snoring in Late Pregnancy

Most commonly, snoring related to pregnancy begins to develop in the second trimester and becomes most severe in the third trimester. If you develop new-onset snoring in late pregnancy, you may be at higher risk for gestational hypertension and preeclampsia compared to those who were snoring prior to pregnancy. Additionally, researchers have observed that pregnancy-related snoring combined with hypertension increases the likelihood of underlying obstructive sleep apnea.

Postpartum Snoring

After giving birth, many of the changes that occurred during pregnancy begin to resolve, and it may take up to eight weeks for full recovery. The factors that contributed to increased snoring during pregnancy, such as airway swelling and nasal congestion, should improve, leading to a reduction in snoring.

If you continue to experience excessive snoring after childbirth, especially if you had blood pressure issues during pregnancy, it is important to discuss your symptoms with your primary care doctor. They may recommend a sleep study to evaluate for obstructive sleep apnea.

22 Tips to reduce snoring in pregnancy

Consider these helpful tips and natural remedies for snoring in pregnancy:

Tip #1:

Limit caffeine intake to no more than 200 mg per day (equivalent to one 12-ounce cup of coffee) and avoid consuming caffeine after lunch.

Tip #2:

Avoid alcohol consumption during pregnancy, and if you are postpartum, try to avoid alcohol in the evening as it can disrupt sleep.

Tip #3:

Refrain from smoking tobacco products.

Tip #4:

Engage in regular exercise, but consult your obstetric provider to determine which activities are safe during pregnancy.

Tip #5:

Minimize distractions in the bedroom before going to bed, such as television, blue lights, noises, cell phones, and laptops.

Tip #6:

Ensure that your sleeping space is quiet, cool, and dark.

Tip #7:

Consider discussing your snoring and sleeping symptoms with your dentist to see if an oral appliance called a mandibular advancement device may be helpful for you.

Tip #8:

Try using nasal dilator strips, especially if you are experiencing increased congestion due to pregnancy.

Tip #9:

Find comfortable sleeping positions that alleviate discomfort and promote better sleep. Avoid sleeping on your back and try to sleep on your side with your legs bent, particularly as you enter the second and third trimesters. Using a body pillow or propping yourself up may also be beneficial. If you find yourself rolling onto your back during sleep, consider using an anti-snore pillow or an automatic bed that can help you change positions.

Tip #10:

Sleeping on an incline: Snoring tends to be more pronounced when sleeping on your back, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. Therefore, experts typically recommend sleeping on your left side to improve blood flow and reduce pressure on organs. However, if sleeping on your left side is uncomfortable, you can try sleeping on your right side as well, as long as you find a comfortable position for uninterrupted sleep.

Tip #11:

Elevate the upper body: Raising the head of the bed slightly or using a soft pillow under your head and upper body can help keep your airway clear during sleep.

Tip #12:

Rinse your nose with saline solution before bedtime. Nasal irrigation with saline solution helps clear the airway, making it easier to breathe during sleep and reducing snoring.

Tip #13:

Maintain a healthy weight: Weight gain during pregnancy is normal and necessary, but it’s important to control weight gain within recommended ranges. Healthy weight gain during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of respiratory issues during sleep.

Tip #14:

Follow sleep hygiene recommendations: Getting enough sleep can prevent excessive fatigue, a risk factor for snoring and sleep apnea due to obstruction. Try implementing different sleep hygiene strategies, such as ensuring adequate daytime sleep but limiting naps to no more than 30 minutes, avoiding caffeine-containing drinks, and avoiding heavy meals before bedtime.

Tip #15:

Use pregnancy pillows: If you snore during pregnancy, you can use supportive pillows to provide extra comfort and support to your back, under your belly, and between your legs. This can help you find a comfortable sleeping position and alleviate snoring or difficulty sleeping.

Tip #16:

Keep your bedroom well-ventilated. Proper airflow can help minimize snoring. Consider using a fan or opening windows to improve air circulation.

Tip #17:

Stay hydrated throughout the day. Drinking an adequate amount of water can help prevent nasal congestion, which can contribute to snoring.

Tip #18:

Use a humidifier in your bedroom. Adding moisture to the air can help keep your nasal passages lubricated and reduce snoring.

Tip #19:

Avoid sleeping on a soft mattress. Opt for a firmer mattress that provides better support for your body, including your airways.

Tip #20:

Manage allergies and nasal congestion. If you have allergies or experience nasal congestion, consult with your healthcare provider about safe and suitable remedies to alleviate these symptoms.

Tip #21:

Practice good sleep posture. In addition to sleeping on your side, try to keep your head and neck aligned properly to minimize airway obstruction. Using a cervical pillow or rolled-up towel for neck support can be helpful.

Tip #22:

Practice relaxation techniques before bed. Engaging in activities like deep breathing exercises, gentle stretching, or taking a warm bath can help you relax and promote better sleep.

Products to Help Reduce Snoring

If you’ve tried various remedies without success, it might be worth considering some external assistance. Before trying any products, consult with your doctor for their recommendations. In the meantime, you can explore these three effective products to minimize snoring and enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep for you and your partner.

Nasal Strips

Nasal strips are an excellent solution to alleviate snoring. They are affordable, easy to use, and don’t cause any discomfort. During my pregnancy, I found them particularly helpful. They can also benefit other family members who experience noisy sleep.

Humidifier

Both warm and cool-mist humidifiers are beneficial in relieving nasal congestion, a common cause of snoring in pregnant women. Humidifiers work well in combination with nasal strips, but they can also be effective on their own. Additionally, humidifiers are useful when you or your little one has a cold, making them a valuable investment beyond pregnancy.

Elevation Pillow

Investing in a specialized sleep pillow is highly recommended for pregnant women. An elevation pillow, in particular, can keep your nasal passages clear and prevent snoring by evenly distributing your weight. This type of pillow is especially useful for enhancing sleep quality.

Tips for Better Sleep During Pregnancy

Getting adequate sleep is crucial during pregnancy, but it can be challenging due to body aches, fatigue, sleeplessness, and a growing belly. Here are some tips to help you sleep better during pregnancy:

– Establish a consistent bedtime routine to regulate your sleep schedule.

– Create a calming routine before bed, such as taking a warm bath or practicing meditation.

– Ensure your sleep environment is conducive to rest by keeping the room dark, quiet, and cool.

– Avoid excessive daytime napping or napping too close to bedtime.

– Incorporate regular physical activity, such as yoga, walking, or swimming, into your daily routine.

– Refrain from eating late-night snacks to prevent heartburn or acid reflux.

– Minimize gadget usage close to bedtime, as they can be distracting.

– If snoring worsens as your pregnancy progresses, consult your doctor for guidance.

While snoring during pregnancy can be bothersome, it is often not a cause for concern. However, if you notice an escalation in snoring as your pregnancy advances, it’s essential to seek advice from your doctor.

Snoring during pregnancy FAQ

Q: How can I stop snoring while pregnant?

To reduce snoring during pregnancy, you can try the following measures:

– Sleep on your side instead of your back.

– Elevate your upper body using pillows or an elevation pillow.

– Use nasal strips or nasal dilator strips to help open up your nasal passages.

– Keep your bedroom environment cool, quiet, and free from allergens.

– Use a humidifier to maintain optimal moisture levels in the air.

– Avoid consuming caffeine and alcohol, especially before bedtime.

– Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly, as recommended by your healthcare provider.

Q: What causes a pregnant woman to snore?

Snoring in pregnant women can be caused by various factors, including:

– Increased blood volume and hormonal changes that lead to nasal congestion and swelling of the airways.

– Weight gain and fluid retention, which can contribute to airway narrowing.

– Changes in sleeping positions and difficulty finding a comfortable position due to the growing belly.

– Enlarged tonsils or adenoids, which can obstruct the airway during sleep.

Q: Is snoring loud during pregnancy normal?

Snoring during pregnancy is relatively common and often considered normal due to the physiological changes that occur in the body. However, if the snoring is excessively loud, disruptive, or accompanied by other symptoms such as gasping or choking during sleep, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation.

Q: Is snoring safe during pregnancy?

While snoring itself is generally considered safe during pregnancy, it can be a sign of underlying issues that may require attention. Snoring can sometimes indicate conditions such as gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, sleep apnea, or compromised oxygen flow. It is important to discuss any concerns or changes in snoring patterns with your healthcare provider to ensure a healthy pregnancy and address any potential risks or complications.

Q: Can you develop snoring while pregnant?

It is not uncommon for individuals who have never snored before to start snoring during pregnancy. New-onset snoring is a common occurrence due to the bodily changes that take place during pregnancy. In fact, up to 1 in 3 people will experience snoring in their third trimester.

Q: Does changing sleep position help with snoring in pregnancy?

Yes, changing your sleep position can help alleviate snoring during pregnancy. Snoring tends to be worse when sleeping on your back and often improves when you sleep on your side. It is recommended to avoid sleeping on your back during pregnancy not only to reduce snoring but also to prevent dizziness and enhance blood flow to the uterus.

Q: Does snoring in pregnancy go away?

If you were already snoring before becoming pregnant, it is likely that your snoring will continue even after giving birth. If you continue to snore postpartum, especially if you had high blood pressure during pregnancy, it is advisable to consult your primary care doctor for an evaluation for obstructive sleep apnea.

Q: Is it common to snore very loudly during pregnancy?

While snoring during pregnancy is relatively common, snoring very loudly is less common. Studies have reported that approximately 7% of pregnant individuals who snore experience loud snoring. However, loud and frequent snoring could also be an indication of obstructive sleep apnea, so it is important to discuss your symptoms with your obstetrician.

Q: What is the best way to stop snoring in pregnancy?

Since snoring during pregnancy can be attributed to the natural bodily changes that occur, complete prevention may not always be possible. However, there are several strategies that can help reduce snoring and minimize the risk of complications such as high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. These include maintaining a healthy body weight, avoiding sleeping on your back, following a nutritious diet, and engaging in regular exercise.

Sources

– Office on Women’s Health. (2021, February 22). Pregnancy: Body changes and discomforts. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services., Retrieved October 19, 2022, from: https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/youre-pregnant-now-what/body-changes-and-discomforts

– Louis, J., & Pien, G.W. (2022, September 22). Obstructive sleep apnea in pregnancy. In V. Berghella & N. Collop (Eds.). UpToDate., Retrieved October 17, 2022, from: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/obstructive-sleep-apnea-in-pregnancy

– American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2021, January). Sleep health and disorders., Retrieved October 17, 2022, from: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/sleep-health-and-disorders

– Izci Balserak, B. (2019). Sleep-disordered breathing in pregnancy part 1. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 200(9), P18–P19: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31674822/

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