The Dangers Of Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy
Sleep apnea can be the cause of many health issues, but when you’re expecting and experiencing sleep apnea, your developing child is also at risk. By the third trimester, pregnant women experience an increase in obstructive sleep apnea rates of over 26 percent. Expecting mothers who
aren’t breathing right and sleeping enough are prone to a host of health issues that endanger them and their developing child.
Whether you developed sleep apnea before you were pregnant or you’ve developed it prenatal, to protect the future health of your developing child, you should seek a diagnosis for possible sleep apnea symptoms. Here are some of the risks involved when sleep apnea occurs during pregnancy.
Health Risks of Pregnancy and Sleep Apnea
Preeclampsia & Eclampsia
Sleep deprivation can raise blood pressure, increase your chances of stroke, and cause heightened stress levels. While these conditions on their own can prove harmful to an expecting mother and her developing child, they can also make you more prone to a condition called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy related condition often accompanied by symptoms such as:
- High blood pressure
- Proteinuria or high levels of protein in urine
- Excessive sweating
- Excessive fluid retention, up to three to five more gallons of water in the hands and feet
While undeniably dangerous for the mother, preeclampsia also increases the chances of preterm delivery and low birth weight. In more serious cases, preeclampsia can progress into eclampsia, the development of seizures and coma where there was no preexisting brain condition causing these issues.
Excess Weight Gain
Gaining weight during pregnancy is normal and healthy, but gaining too much weight can cause and exacerbate symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Fat deposits in the upper respiratory tract can narrow and obstruct your airways, so they are more prone to collapse. This makes it harder to breathe, especially while you sleep.
In turn, sleep deprivation inhibits leptin production. Leptin is the chemical your body produces to signal that you’re full. Sleep deprivation reduces leptin levels, making your body think it’s starving and pushing you to eat more.
Sleep deprivation will also make you more likely to crave sugary, fatty, and high calorie foods. These factors mean that when you’re experiencing sleep apnea during your pregnancy, you’re likely to gain more weight and experience more severe sleep apnea symptoms as a result.
It can be difficult to know how much weight gain during pregnancy is too much, but every pregnancy is different and what is healthy for one expecting mother could be dangerous for you. Be sure to consult your doctor as soon as you learn you’re pregnant or before trying to get pregnant and ask them how much weight gain is healthy for you during your pregnancy.
Gestational and Type 2 Diabetes
Because pregnancy increases your likelihood of excess weight gain, and sleep apnea is also known to exacerbate weight gain, if left untreated your chances of developing gestational and type 2 diabetes increase significantly. Gestational diabetes occurs because your body undergoes hormonal changes during pregnancy, including weight gain. These changes cause your cells to use insulin less effectively, resulting in insulin resistance, raising glucose levels, and increasing your need for the insulin.
Gestational diabetes puts you at an increased risk of high blood pressure (preeclampsia), miscarriage, and developing type-2 diabetes later in life. According to the CDC, over 50 percent of women with gestational diabetes develop type 2 diabetes in the future. Your baby is also at increased risk of:
- Being born large and needing to be delivered via C-section
- Developing type 2 diabetes later in life
- Becoming obese
- Being born hypoglycemic
Because of sleep apnea’s close link to diabetes, your chances of developing gestational and type 2 diabetes during pregnancy become more likely the longer sleep apnea goes untreated.
Protect You & Your Baby’s Health With a Free Consultation!
If you’re not breathing right or getting enough oxygen, neither is your baby. A healthy pregnancy depends on you getting treatment for sleep apnea once symptoms have been recognized. At Sleep Better Tampa, Dr. Bulnes-Newton and her team have the skills and the tools necessary to accurately diagnose your symptoms.
To schedule a free consultation with Dr. Bulnes-Newton at Sleep Better Tampa, dial 813-607-5337 or fill out our appointment form. If sleep apnea is causing you problems during your pregnancy, we can provide treatment options that will protect your health and the health of your growing baby.