Snoring not only messes with the quality of your sleep (and makes you a less-than-popular bedmate), but it could potentially be bad for your new baby's health if you're pregnant, finds a new study from the University of Michigan.
Researchers recruited 1,673 pregnant women in their third trimesters, 35% of whom reported habitual snoring, and reviewed their medical records through delivery. They found that moms who snored three or more nights a week had a higher risk of poor delivery outcomes, including C-section births and delivering smaller babies.
Many women who haven't snored in the past start snoring during pregnancy, likely because of weight gain, fluid retention, and changes in hormones levels, says lead study author Louise M. O'Brien, PhD, MS, an associate professor at the University of Michigan's Sleep Disorders Center. (If you spend nights tossing and turning, check out these 20 Ways To Sleep Better Every Night.)
Chronic snorers (moms who snored before and during pregnancy) were two-thirds more likely to have a baby born below the tenth percentile of weight and were twice as likely to need a C-section, compared to non-snorers.
Why the link? In non-pregnant adults, snoring and obstructive sleep apnea cause inflammation that can be harmful to the cardiovascular system, says Dr. O'Brien. "While there is not much data in pregnancy yet, we think that the snoring causes inflammation which alters the blood vessels that go to the placenta," she says. "So, the end result is that less blood and nutrients get to the baby, resulting in less growth." (Disrupted by snoring? Try these remedies to ease nighttime noise.)
Dr. O'Brien stresses that the link isn't cause for panic, but rather, one of the many factors that go into a healthy pregnancy, and therefore something to stay on top of. "Just like doctors and midwives advise healthy eating and exercise in pregnancy, it's becoming increasingly known that healthy sleep is also important not only for mom's health but also for baby's."
To avoid snoring during pregnancy, Dr. O'Brien suggests sleeping on your side or sleeping slightly propped up with a pillow. If you do snore more than three nights a week, have high blood pressure, and sometimes wake up feeling like you're gasping for air, talk to you doctor about treatment options. The most common treatment is with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), a machine that uses air pressure to keep the airways open during sleep.
(Did you know high blood pressure is one of the most preventable conditions? Check out these 13 Ways to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally.)
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