Sleep Apnea: What You Need to Know
For most women, snoring is nothing more than an annoying side effect of pregnancy. But for some, the problem is more serious: They may go on to develop obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder in which you stop breathing for brief periods of time, says University of Pennsylvania sleep expert Grace Pien, MD.
If your husband has complained that you sound like a buzz saw at night, ask him to pay attention to your breathing. And if he discovers that you're not breathing steadily, speak with your doctor immediately. The lack of oxygen can disrupt your sleep, but more critically, it can stunt your unborn baby's growth. Sleep apnea has also been linked to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disorders, not to mention fatigue. Women who suffer from the disorder rarely feel well rested, as their snorts or gasps wake them up as many as 100 times a night, says Dr. Pien.
If you're diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may need a device, a continuous positive airway pressure mask, that is placed over your mouth and nose to help prevent breathlessness, and, in turn, help you sleep better.
New York City writer Allison Winn Scotch is the mother of two children. She is also the author of The Department of Lost & Found (William Morrow).
Originally published in American Baby magazine, March 2007.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.