Know The Facts

Pregnant women and snoring

Ever wondered why some women snore during pregnancy? Learn what causes pregnancy-onset snoring and what it could mean for the baby.


Why do people snore?

Snoring is the vibration of the soft tissues in the neck and head when someone inhales during sleep. Various factors can intensify snoring, including smoking, consuming alcohol and being overweight. But what about pregnancy?


Why do pregnant women snore?

A study published in the European Respiratory Journal by a research team led by Professor Neil Douglas from Edinburgh University discovered that women are two to three times more likely to snore when they are pregnant. Professor Douglas found that there was a link between the weight of the pregnant woman and how likely she was to snore. As women gain weight during pregnancy, fat is deposited in the soft tissues of the neck and upper airways, and this increases the chance of snoring. Other causes of snoring during pregnancy include swollen nasal passages due to higher levels of oestrogen, congestion from allergies or colds, and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).


Can snoring affect a developing baby?

Although some studies have found an association between snoring and delivery complications, the conclusions of such studies have been questionable. However, there is a generally accepted association between OSA and adverse pregnancy outcomes, and since snoring is a common symptom of OSA, pregnant women who snore are advised to consult their doctor for advice.

One study, published in 2012 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, looked for correlations between OSA and a variety of adverse pregnancy outcomes. The study involved extracting and analysing data about pregnant women from two Taiwanese databases. Data was analysed of 791 women with OSA and 3,955 randomly selected women without OSA. The researchers found that compared with pregnant women without OSA, pregnant women with OSA were:


- 2.31 times more likely to give birth prematurely

- 1.76 times more likely to have a low-birth-weight baby

- 1.34 times more likely to have a small-for-gestational-age baby

- 1.74 times more likely to require a caesarean section

- 1.63 times more likely to suffer from gestational diabetes.


It should be noted, however, that this study had some limitations. For example the researchers didn’t take into account the severity of the OSA, and there was no way of knowing how many of the randomly selected women without OSA were in fact undiagnosed OSA sufferers.


What can I do to stop snoring?

If you do not suffer from OSA and have a simple case of snoring, you may be able to reduce or even prevent the snoring by following a few simple tips:


- Keep your airway more open.

- Since snoring can become worse when you become very tired, avoid mental and physical overexertion and try to stick to a sleeping schedule.

- Avoid substances that make your airway more likely to close, such as sleeping pills (which should be avoided during pregnancy anyway).

- Try not to gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy.

- Consult your doctor for recommendations on anti-snoring products.


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