Snoring during pregnancy is a problem that affects many women—even ones who have no prior history of snoring. It’s a surprisingly common issue. This article looks at the causes and also provides some solutions.
How to Stop Snoring While Pregnant
Some estimates suggest one in three pregnant women snore but others indicate it may affect close to 50 percent.
Regardless of the cause, snoring can cause major disruptions to sleep. Not only for the pregnant woman emitting the noise. All that nocturnal rasping is likely to disrupt the sleep of her partner as well.
By interfering with sleep, snoring can have a major impact on quality of life. It causes fatigue, frays the temper, and may also place strain on even the most solid of relationships.
With so many changes taking place in her body, snoring and sleep disruptions (such as night sweats) are the last thing the average woman needs.
This article explains why snoring can become an issue during pregnancy and provides advice on some of the steps women can take to try and get the problem under control.
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Why Women Snore During Pregnancy
With so many changes going on in the body, snoring while pregnant can be attributable to one or more different factors.
Hormonal changes are one of the main reasons women who are pregnant can suddenly begin to snore.
Estrogen and progesterone are the two main culprits. A woman can produce more estrogen during a single pregnancy than she does throughout the rest of her life.
That’s a massive hormonal increase so it’s not surprising that the childbearing process can affect women in so many different ways.
The increase in estrogen is necessary. It helps improve blood flow to the uterus and placenta. This enables the developing baby to get an adequate supply of nutrients.
Progesterone relaxes tension in the ligaments and joints.
Although these hormonal changes are necessary for mother and child, they also dilate the blood vessels in the nose, causing nasal congestion.
This elevation of hormones can present further problems by causing the nasal tissues to swell as well.
The aforementioned nasal changes can obstruct normal airflow sufficiently to interfere with breathing. This makes pregnant women more likely to sleep with their mouths open and begin to snore.
During pregnancy, women aren’t only eating for two, they are breathing for two as well.
The child growing within doesn’t just require adequate nutrients, it needs sufficient oxygen as well. Like nutrients, oxygen reaches it via the blood.
The baby’s need for oxygen causes subtle changes to the way its mother breathes. Respiration increases, causing extra air turbulence at the back of the throat.
Expansion of the uterus causes problems as well. It pushes upwards, applying pressure to the diaphragm. This reduces the residual volume in the lungs, making the throat more prone to obstructions that increase snoring.
Weight gain is another factor that contributes to snoring while pregnant.
When fat deposits build up around the throat, the extra weight applies pressure to the airways that further exasperate snoring.
People who are overweight or obese snore for a similar reason. However, the respiration changes that occur during pregnancy can combine with this problem and make the situation worse.
By the time the average woman reaches her third trimester, her blood plasma volume is often 40-50 percent higher than it was prior to pregnancy. For the average pregnant woman, this is an increase of roughly two pints (1.25 liter). [source]
This increase in blood volume helps meet the demands of the baby growing inside. It also helps prep mother for the blood-loss they may endure during labor.
Although the change in blood volume is beneficial for mother and child, it also contributes to snoring.
The presence of the extra blood swells the tissues around the throat sufficiently to interfere with airflow. Needless to say, this is another factor that can cause a woman to snore while she is carrying a child.
The increase in blood volume can further enhance snoring by contributing to nasal congestion. Research suggests around 39 percent of expectant mothers have problems with pregnancy rhinitis.
7. Ways to Stop Snoring While Pregnant
As you can see, there are many reasons why women snore during pregnancy. Fortunately, there are also plenty of things they can do to try and get the problem under control.
However, certain options may work better for some women than others, depending on the contributing factors involved.
1. Adopt a Better Sleep Position
Sleep position is one of the factors that can have a big influence on snoring. In all cases, the worst positions are the ones that involve sleeping on your back.
Back sleeping can increase obstructions to airflow, making snoring much worse. Side sleeping positions are always better. Especially during pregnancy.
Apart from helping to prevent snoring, sleeping on your side during pregnancy also takes unwanted pressure off the back. In addition to this, it helps babies benefit from the maximum supply of blood as well.
2. Use a Room Humidifier
Sleeping with a humidifier in the room can also help you to stop snoring while pregnant. It can be a good way to reduce nasal congestion. Adding eucalyptus and/or other essential oils to the water may offer additional benefits as well.
3. Make Sensible Food Choices
Although there is bound to be a need to eat more during pregnancy, it’s best to try and stick to healthy food choices.
Avoid the temptation to eat junk foods that are low in nutrients and high in sugar or fat. Such choices can help you to gain extra fat, making your snoring worse. The wrong food choices while pregnant can also leave you with post-baby belly fat that may take a long time to shift.
4. Use Nasal Strips or Internal Nasal Dilators
Nasal strips and internal nasal dilators can also help you to stop snoring while pregnant. Each option has its pros and cons but they both work in a similar way.
Nasal strips affix to the outside of the nostrils and help stretch them open from the outside. Internal nasals dilators expand the nostrils too but they do so by pushing them open from the inside.
Both options help combat nasal obstructions and congestion that make it necessary to breathe through the mouth. Which one to choose comes down to a matter of personal choice.
Although nasal strips are probably more comfortable to use, grease and sweat can cause them to fall from the skin. They are also a throw away snoring solution. You need to apply fresh strips every night.
Internal nasal dilators are reusable. One pair should last throughout the pregnancy period but some women find it hard to sleep with this type of device in the nose.
5. Use a MAD (Snoring Mouth Guard)
MADs (mandibular advancement devices) are a popular type of anti-snoring device you place in the mouth. They open up your airway by pulling the jaw forward using the teeth.
MADs were originally only available as a custom-build unit that you had to get from a dentist and cost $1,000 or more. Now lots of manufacturers offer much cheaper options that anyone can buy and set-up at home for about $100.
Although MADs have a limited life expectancy, one MAD should be capable of controlling snoring throughout pregnancy. However, MADs are not a suitable option for women who wear dentures or have frontal dental crowns.
6. Try a TSD
“TSD” stands for tongue stabilizing device. Devices of this nature are generally made from plastic or silicon. They have a suction bulb that draws the tongue forward. This prevents it from restricting airflow during sleep.
Many women who find it uncomfortable to use a MAD opt to go with a TSD instead. Either option can stop you from snoring while pregnant. One of the best examples of a TSD is Good Morning Snore Solution.
7. Wear a Chin Strap
Anti-snoring chinstraps are fabric devices you fit over your head. They cradle the lower jaw helping you to keep your mouth closed during sleep.
Although anti-snoring chin straps can work well for some pregnant women, it depends on the extent of their nasal congestion.
If the congestion is only mild, a chin strap may work well alongside nasal strips or internal nasal dilators. Women who have more severe congestion will need to opt for an alternative solution instead.
Stop Snoring While Pregnant – In Summary
A lot of women start snoring while pregnant. So don’t worry. If you have this problem, you are not on your own.
Various factors can contribute to the problem and hormonal changes within the body generally contribute the most. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available to pregnant women who want to stop snoring.
Some women may find minor changes, such as modifying their sleeping position, is all that’s required. Others may have to consider using a suitable anti-snoring device such as nasal strips or TSDs. There is no one solution that’s perfect for all.
Snoring while pregnant is not generally a cause for concern. It’s perfectly normal.
However, if your snoring is causing you to experience undue worry or concern, or you feel it may be due to additional factors (other than pregnancy), it makes sense to speak with a doctor and ask for expert advice.