Pregnant woman in bed

Risks of Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy

February 16, 2022 | |

This post was originally posted on January 9, 2013, and updated on February 16, 2022.

Are pregnant women more likely to develop sleep apnea and require therapy with a sleep apnea machine, commonly called a CPAP machine? The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) believes they are.

Pregnant woman sleeping with CPAP mask.

Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person periodically stops breathing during sleep. This results in decreased oxygen flow to the brain and a number of other potential medical issues. The primary sleep apnea symptoms include daytime lethargy, mental fogginess and loud snoring.

While pregnant women, according to the NSF, are more at risk for sleep apnea than non-pregnant women, women who are obese when they become pregnant are much more likely to develop the disorder. Obese pregnant women need treatment with a sleep apnea machine in order to experience undisturbed sleep.

In the general population, overweight individuals have sleep apnea in greater numbers than those who maintain “normal” weights. Excess fatty tissue in the neck area can cause the throat to close while the person is asleep. This is what seals off the breathing passage. A sleep apnea machine sends a programmed rate of pressurized air through a CPAP mask, which helps to keep the throat open.

Obese individuals with sleep apnea are at risk for many complications, particularly within the circulatory and cardiovascular systems. Obese pregnant women have even more potential complications. According to the NSF, these can include preeclampsia, gestational hypertension and a low birth weight for their child.

In many cases, a pregnant woman’s sleep apnea is a temporary condition. It is successfully treatable with a CPAP machine and well-fitting mask. It may take a little bit of time to adjust to sleeping with a mask on. However, the results can make life seem brand new again.

Lethargy is a common symptom in pregnancy, and if this is being compounded because of sleep apnea’s constant breathing stoppages throughout the night, pregnancy can be extremely challenging. If you’re feeling more tired than you think you should, if you have trouble concentrating and focusing or if your bed partner mentions that you have been snoring loudly, it’s a good idea to speak with a doctor who understands sleep disorders.

The CPAP Shop helps people with sleep apnea get better a better night’s sleep. We also strive to improve their daytime experience with top-quality sleep apnea machines, masks and accessories. If you have questions about any of our products and would like more information, you can call us at (866) 414-9700. Or, you can contact us through our website.

Chris Vasta

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes and is frequently tapped to provide reviews on new releases.