Baby on Time
Pregnancy, Sleep and Prenatal Health
Expected concerns and overlooked conditions
From the moment the pregnancy test turns positive, a new mom is thinking of her baby. For first-time mothers, along with the excitement comes a host of questions and concerns. What should I eat? What shouldn’t I eat or drink? How important are my sleeping patterns? Which prenatal vitamins are the best? How do I know if I’m exercising enough or gaining the proper amount of weight? These are all good questions to address with your doctor at your prenatal checkups. But while you are clarifying which cheeses you can still eat, you might also consider talking with your doctor about your sleeping patterns and a frequently overlooked condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
While it may seem like common knowledge that pregnancy and fatigue go hand-in-hand, when it comes to sleeping during pregnancy, it’s important to know what’s normal and what’s not. Unfortunately, according to the National Sleep Foundation, pregnancy can be a “time of serious sleep disturbance, even for women who have never had problems sleeping.” While common issues like frequent urination, general aches and pains, and overall fatigue can make sleep difficult, as pregnant women gain weight they are also at greater risk of developing sleep disorders such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), risking dangerously low blood oxygen levels for the mother and baby.
Risks of Sleep Apnea during pregnancy
“OSA is a sleep related breathing disorder that is fairly common in pregnancy, but not always discussed between pregnant women and their healthcare providers,” says Dr. Rod Willey, founder of the Koala Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders. OSA is a chronic condition in which the airway collapses during sleep, leading to complete or partial blockages of airflow. A typical sequence of OSA occurs when a person stops breathing and is silent for seconds or more than a minute. This can occur with snoring or the absence of snoring. The brain may cause the body to jerk in an attempt to wake the sleeper so breathing will resume. In some cases, the body will produce adrenaline or cortisol to arouse the person to start breathing, making going back to sleep difficult. The silence may end with a loud snort, cough or gasp. This causes the sleeper to awaken briefly and begin breathing. Once asleep again, the muscles relax and the airway becomes blocked once again. This cycle can occur hundreds of times per night. If left untreated, OSA may lead to heart attack, stroke and death. Pregnant women are at greater risk for OSA if they snore frequently, are of advanced maternal age or began pregnancy at a high body mass index (BMI).
OSA presents unique complications to both mother and baby during pregnancy. Dr. Willey notes that “Obstructive Sleep Apnea can cause premature birth of the baby. When the blood oxygen levels go down in the mother, they will in-turn drop for the baby as well, which can be very risky for the baby.” In fact, one large study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology reported an increased risk of low birth weight, preterm birth, and low Apgar scores among women with confirmed OSA. The baby is not the only one at risk. Another study, published in the journal SLEEP, found OSA to be associated with increased risk for preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and maternal death.
Because OSA carries serious risks for mother and baby, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms and help your partner be aware of what to look for. While lifestyle changes, such as sleeping on your side, avoiding excessive weight gain and establishing a consistent sleep schedule can help. If you suspect you might have OSA, consider having a discussion with your doctor about getting a sleep study. Home Sleep Studies and PSG (in lab sleep test) are available from many medical facilities. A sleep study will determine whether you have OSA and, if so, what the severity is.
If you are diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, there are a number of treatment options available, including lifestyle changes, surgery, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) and Oral Appliance Therapy. The dental sleep appliance is comfortable to wear and works to hold the lower jaw in a forward position creating an open airway and preventing the tongue and soft tissues from collapsing into the airway during sleep, thus eliminating or reducing snoring and sleep apnea episodes. Non-Invasive and non-pharmaceutical treatment at Koala Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders in City, State. Dr. Name is trained to treat OSA with Oral Appliance Therapy. Treating your sleep apnea can lead to better outcomes for you and your baby.
For more information contact the Koala Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders in City, State at Phone Number or website. Dr. Name provides treatment for Snoring and Sleep Apnea with a comfortable, convenient Dental Sleep Appliance. Custom made TMJ Dental Orthotic Device/Splint are also available to treat Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD).