Snoring During Pregnancy: Causes And Remedies To Manage It

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Snoring during pregnancy is a normal occurrence. It usually happens due to the swelling up of the nasal tissues and the change in the levels of estrogen and progesterone, which causes the nose to open wider than it used to.

In a study conducted on 1,673 women who had traits of chronic snoring, 35% reported having snored at least three to four times in a week, if not every day. Of them, 26% claimed that it was caused due to their pregnancy, while the remaining 9% claimed it was chronic (1).

Read on to know more about the causes of snoring while pregnant and signs when you should consult your doctor.

Is Snoring Common During Pregnancy?

Snoring during pregnancy is usually common, especially in the third trimester. Studies also reveal that habitual snoring (three to more nights in a week) increases from 7% to 11% in the first trimester, and 16% to 25% in the third trimester (2).

Snoring could be harmless most of the time, but in some cases, it could indicate an underlying condition that could impact the mother and the baby.

Knowing what causes snoring is essential to tackle it the right way.

What Are The Causes Of Snoring During Pregnancy?

The following are some of the possible causes of snoring during pregnancy.

  1. Nasal congestion: The increasing estrogen levels during pregnancy might result in the swelling of the mucous membrane along the nasal passages. It could increase the production of mucus, leading to congestion in the nasal cavity and ultimately snoring. Also, an increase in the blood volume may expand the blood vessels, causing a swelling of the nasal membranes. This could make breathing difficult and may result in snoring (3).
  1. Fatigue: You may feel extremely tired when you are pregnant. This could lead to a deep slumber, during which you might lose control over the throat muscles. The muscles become too relaxed and may obstruct the airways, causing vibrations as you breathe, creating the snoring sound.
  1. Weight gain: The increasing weight during pregnancy might add some extra fat to your neck and throat regions as well. This excess tissue may compress the airways, make breathing difficult, and cause snoring (4).
  1. Sleep apnea: Loud snoring could be one of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is a condition where you stop breathing abruptly during sleep, due to a blockage in the airways. OSA has other symptoms, such as gasping noises and daytime sleepiness (5).
  1. Colds and allergies: Cold, flu, or allergies might also lead to snoring since they result in nasal congestion, which could make breathing difficult (6).

Snoring during pregnancy could be a temporary condition caused due to the changes in the body. But that is not always the case.

Does Snoring Impact Pregnancy?

Snoring may not be a cause of concern. But if it is, it is important to know how to identify it and seek medical intervention.

One study of 189 pregnant women, conducted at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, states that snoring could indicate a risk for the mother and the baby in the following cases (7).

  • Habitual snoring is associated with poor outcomes for both the mom and the baby, including the risk of cesarean section and low birth weight babies.
  • Another complication might be intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) that may cause smaller babies with developmental delays (8). If snoring is due to an underlying medical condition, then treating the condition could stop the snoring as well. If it is due to the bodily changes during pregnancy, you may try the remedies we talk about next.

Can You Stop Snoring When Pregnant?

You may try these simple remedies to manage snoring (9).

  1. Nasal sprays or strips that are readily available in pharmacies are a drug-free way to manage snoring. They might clear the obstruction of the nasal passages and could prevent snoring.
  1. A warm-mist humidifier in your bedroom could treat your nasal congestion and give relief from snoring. Choose a humidifier that works for eight hours or more for undisturbed sleep.
  1. Sleep on your left side to improve the blood circulation and sleep soundly.
  1. Elevate your head with at least two pillows to allow free flow of air. This might ease breathing and reduce snoring.
  1. Watch your eating habits to avoid amassing more calories than needed. Excess weight gain could be one of the reasons for snoring. Therefore, watch what you eat and avoid foods with zero nutritional value.
  1. Quit smoking, alcohol, and sleeping pills as they might block the airways and result in snoring. They are also dangerous for both the pregnant mom and the baby.

If these remedies don’t help and your snoring is making you uncomfortable, you should visit the doctor.

When Will Snoring Go Away?

You are likely to stop snoring after delivering the baby. If not immediately, you might be free of it after pregnancy, as you lose the baby weight.

Do Pregnant Women Snore More Than Others?

Pregnant women are likely to snore more than non-pregnant women because of their increasing estrogen levels, belly, and blood circulation. Those who never snored before pregnancy may develop the condition during pregnancy (10).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does snoring during pregnancy say something about gender?

Snoring might be associated with pregnancy-related complications such as gestational diabetes and having LGA babies (11). However, there is insufficient research to show an association between snoring and fetal gender

2. Is snoring a sign of pre-eclampsia?

Studies show that a new onset of snoring during pregnancy might increase the risk of gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia for the expectant mother (12).

Snoring during pregnancy is most likely to resolve after childbirth. Swelling in the nasal tissues and changes in hormonal levels, especially during the third trimester, may cause snoring in pregnant women. Other risk factors include nasal congestion, fatigue, weight gain, and sleep apnea. The condition is usually harmless but may indicate some underlying health condition in rare cases. A warm mist humidifier, altering sleep positions, and a healthy lifestyle may help reduce snoring during pregnancy. Consult a doctor if you have excessive snoring and other symptoms such as difficulty breathing or sleep disturbances.

References:

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  1. L M O’Brien et al.; Snoring during Pregnancy and Delivery Outcomes: A Cohort Study; Sleep Research Society (2013)
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3792378/
  2. B I Balserak; Sleep disordered breathing in pregnancy; Breathe (Sheff). (2015)
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4818216/
  3. A N Akkoca et al.; Ear, nose and throat changes observed during three trimester of pregnancy; Science Journal of Clinical Medicine
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.848.6619&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  4. 20 Common Health Questions; Harvard Health Publications
    https://www.health.harvard.edu/PDFs/20Q_Premium_C.pdf
  5. Neurology – OSA Brochure; University of Rochester Medicine
    https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/MediaLibraries/URMCMedia/neurology/documents/Neurology-OSA-Brochure-FINAL.pdf
  6. Snoring – Causes and Symptoms; Sleep Education; American Academy of Sleep Medicine
    http://sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/snoring/causes-and-symptoms
  7. M Paul; Study Finds New Risk For Snoring Pregnant Women; Northwestern University (2009)
    https://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2009/06/snoring.html
  8. Jennifer R. Santiago et al.; Sleep and Sleep Disorders in Pregnancy; Annals of Internal Medicine; Penn State University (2001)
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.688.7370&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  9. How to stop snoring; Health Direct gov
    https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/how-to-stop-snoring
  10. Maria Sarberg et al.; Snoring during pregnancy and its relation to sleepiness and pregnancy outcome – a prospective study; BMC Pregnancy Childbirth (2014)
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3893487/
  11. Xing Ge et al. Maternal Snoring May Predict Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes: A Cohort Study in China; )PLOS ONE (2016)
    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0148732
  12. Louise M. O’brien et al. Pregnancy-Onset Habitual Snoring Gestational Hypertension and Pre-eclampsia: Prospective Cohort Study; American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (2013)
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3505221/
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Dr. Sangeeta Agrawal

(FRCOG, MD, DNB, DGO)
Dr. Sangeeta Agrawal worked in Royal London, St. Bartholomew’s, North Middlesex and Barnet General hospitals in London. Currently, she runs her own clinic in Mumbai. She is also attached to Bhatia Hospital, Breach Candy Hospital, Wockhardt Hospital, and Global Hospital. Her areas of expertise include obstetrics and gynecology, involving teenage care, antenatal, intrapartum, post-natal care, painless labor, fertility control, menopause... more

Rebecca Malachi

Rebecca is a pregnancy writer and editor with a passion for delivering research-based and engaging content in areas of fertility, pregnancy, birth, and post-pregnancy. She has been into health and wellness writing since 2010. She received her graduate degree in Biotechnology and Genetics from Loyola Academy, Osmania University and obtained a certification in ‘Nutrition and Lifestyle in Pregnancy’ from Ludwig... more

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