Protect Your & Your Child’s Health
Carrying a child is a heavy burden for expecting mothers, but those who suffer from sleep apnea are faced with even greater challenges. Pregnancy can be uncomfortable, with a myriad of symptoms, which can make it easy to miss signs and symptoms of sleep apnea.
With over three decades of experience as a dentist, Dr. Stephen Ura is a sleep specialist who provides customized, convenient oral appliances to treat our patients’ sleep apnea. If you’re an expectant mother who struggles with this disorder, check out this guide to learn how to ensure your child’s well-being.
Sleep Apnea, Snoring & Pregnancy
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition that interferes with your ability to breathe during sleep, causing the muscles in the back of your throat to relax and block your airway.
The leading symptom of sleep apnea is loud and frequent snoring, though not everyone who snores suffers from this disorder. An evident display of sleep apnea is a person choking or gasping for air while asleep.
The Signs & Symptoms of Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy
Common signs of sleep apnea in pregnant women include:
- Persistent headaches
- Dry mouth
- Frequent nighttime urination
- Heartburn overnight
- Excessively sleepy during the day
- Gasping or choking for air
Some of these symptoms may be a result of pregnancy, and for this reason, many expectant mothers with sleep apnea go undiagnosed. If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, our Nashua sleep dentist advises that you take cautious measures and schedule a consultation. Dr. Ura will work closely with a sleep physician to determine your ideal sleep apnea treatment and ensure the best possible results.
How Untreated Sleep Apnea Affects Your Health
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that requires professional attention. In the absence of treatment, it can lead to:
- Heart disease
- Unplanned Cesarean sections
- Prolonged labor
- Fetal growth restrictions
An additional complication of sleep apnea during pregnancy is obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS). This occurs when an overweight person fails to breathe sufficiently, causing blood carbon dioxide levels to rise and blood sugar levels to drop. This fluctuation can be harmful to both your health and your unborn child.
Treating Pregnancy-Related Sleep Apnea
If your sleep partner notices you gasping for air at night, it’s crucial to identify and treat sleep apnea at the first sign. The initial and most common treatment prescribed is a CPAP machine, though many patients complain that it’s noisy, uncomfortable, and difficult to use.
Dr. Ura offers a convenient alternative to CPAP — customized oral appliances. This alternative allows you to breathe freely through the night by shifting your lower jaw forward, preventing your tongue and soft oral tissue from obstructing your airway.
Unlike CPAP, oral appliances are custom-made and designed with your comfort in mind. It’s small, quiet, easy to wear, and doesn’t require a power source. You have the freedom to sleep in any position and finally enjoy a better night’s sleep.
Safety Considerations for Sleep Apnea Treatment During Pregnancy
It’s important to carefully consider the potential risks and benefits of different sleep apnea treatments during pregnancy. For example, while CPAP machines can be very effective in treating sleep apnea, they can be challenging to use for some pregnant women, particularly if they experience nausea, vomiting, or difficulty breathing. Additionally, some oral appliances may not be safe for pregnant women, so it’s important to discuss all treatment options with your healthcare provider and Dr. Ura to determine the best course of action.
Importance of Follow-Up Care
Regardless of the treatment option chosen, pregnant women with sleep apnea need to receive ongoing monitoring and care from their healthcare provider and Dr. Ura. This may include regular check-ins to assess treatment effectiveness, as well as follow-up sleep studies to ensure that the condition is being properly managed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use CPAP during pregnancy?
Women with pre-existing OSA who have been prescribed CPAP should continue using it. CPAP may need to be readjusted around 24 weeks of pregnancy due to nasal congestion and an increased BMI.
Women who have yet to be diagnosed with OSA should seek diagnosis and treatment right away. Seeking treatment can help prevent any possible health consequences to both themselves and their unborn child.
Can untreated sleep apnea affect a baby's development?
Yes, untreated sleep apnea can potentially affect a baby’s development. The condition can cause a decrease in oxygen levels in the mother’s blood, leading to decreased oxygen levels in the baby’s blood. This can affect the baby’s growth and development.
How can I manage my sleep apnea during pregnancy if I'm unable to use a CPAP or oral appliance?
If you’re unable to use a CPAP or oral appliance during pregnancy, other lifestyle changes may help manage your sleep apnea symptoms. These include:
- Sleeping on your left side instead of your back
- Avoiding alcohol and sedatives
- Elevating the head of your bed
It’s important to discuss these options with your OBGYN before making any changes to your treatment plan.
Will sleep apnea ever go away after pregnancy?
If you have sleep apnea before pregnancy, it’s unlikely that sleep apnea will go away unless you seek professional treatment. However, it’s important to note that one of the causes of sleep apnea is weight gain. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea during pregnancy, it can be from pregnancy weight gain.
After you have delivered your baby, your sleep apnea symptoms may go away. Research shows that weight loss will help sleep apnea symptoms subside.
Visit Dr. Ura for Sleep Apnea Treatment
At the Center for Dental Sleep Health, we recognize the impact of sleep apnea on pregnant women and understand every patient is unique. Dr. Ura can provide a comfortable, modern alternative treatment with oral appliances. Call our Nashua office today at (603) 237-1124 to get started on your treatment.
You can also fill out our online contact form to book your appointment, and one of our team members will get back to you promptly. Dr. Ura and our team proudly provide sleep apnea treatment services to the Nashua community and surrounding areas such as Hudson, Merrimack, and Milford, NH.