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Navigating Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy: What to Know

by | Dec 28, 2023

Pregnancy is an exciting journey, but with that, there are a lot of physical and physiological changes that take place. Amidst the excitement, it’s critical to be aware of potential health concerns, such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). In this blog post, we will detail what OSA is, the warning signs to look out for, the risks associated with OSA during pregnancy, and effective strategies for managing this sleep disorder if you’re expecting. 

What is OSA?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of partial or complete temporary obstruction of the airway during sleep. “Obstructive sleep apnea causes your breathing to start and stop repeatedly during sleep and deprives your body of oxygen, which can be serious for both you and your baby on board.”

What are the Warning Signs?

Identifying OSA early is important for effective management, especially for expecting mothers. Common warning signs include loud snoring, abrupt awakenings accompanied by a choking or gasping sound, excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and morning headaches. You may also wake up with a headache, sore throat or dry mouth; and nighttime sweating. Even though pregnant women are at a greater risk of OSA due to body changes, they typically go undiagnosed. This is partly because most symptoms overlap with common pregnancy side effects such as headaches, heartburn, and morning nausea, as well as emotional changes such as anxiety and depression. Pregnant women experiencing any of these symptoms should seek medical help. Contact your Lafayette-based sleep apnea doctor here

What are the Risks of Having OSA While Pregnant?

OSA during pregnancy presents special risks, that can affect both the mother and the baby. Some of these complications may include gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and an increased risk of cesarean delivery. There is also an elevated risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. In addition, untreated OSA can add to existing conditions like hypertension, posing additional risks to pregnant women in Louisiana.

“Maternal mortality rates in the U.S. are less than 1 percent. The National Institutes of Health data show the risk of death prior to discharge after delivery is 2.47 percent with OSA compared with 0.13 percent in patients who do not have OSA.”

Other statistics to note:

35% of women with PCOS have OSA

1 in 4 women have Sleep Apnea

Women who have OSA are 2-3 more likely to have anxiety/depression

How to Manage OSA During Pregnancy?

Effective management of OSA during pregnancy involves a multi-faceted approach that prioritizes both maternal and fetal well-being.

  1. Professional Diagnosis:
  • Seek guidance from a sleep apnea doctor in Lafayette, Louisiana, who specializes in sleep medicine. A sleep study may be recommended to assess the severity of OSA and determine the most appropriate course of action.
  1. Lifestyle Modifications:
  • Evaluate certain lifestyle changes recommended by your Louisiana sleep apnea doctor that could be helpful. Some recommendations may include maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet. In addition, make it a point to adopt proper sleep practices, such as sleeping on the side and avoiding sleep on the back to alleviate symptoms like snoring.
  1. Oral Appliance Therapy:
  • For mild to moderate cases, an oral appliance may be recommended. Specializing in a sleep apnea dental device, oral appliance therapy, and other non-surgical alternatives to conventional treatment options for patients who do not want to use a CPAP. This therapy assists by keeping your throat open by bringing your lower jaw forward and holding your tongue in a different position. Read more on the different oral appliance options here
  1. Positional Therapy:
  • Some pregnant women may experience OSA predominantly when sleeping on their backs. Positional therapy incorporates using pillows to encourage sleeping on the side or raising your head, reducing the likelihood of airway obstruction.
  1. Regular Monitoring:
  • Regular follow-up appointments with your sleep apnea doctor in Lafayette are essential to monitor the progress of OSA management during pregnancy. Adjustments to treatment plans can be made based on the individual’s response and changing needs. Multiple sleep studies may be necessary to determine the efficacy of the treatment plan. 


Prioritizing sleep during pregnancy is fundamental for the well-being of both the mother and the baby. Recognizing the warning signs of OSA, understanding its risks during pregnancy, and adopting effective management strategies, including consulting with a sleep apnea doctor in Lafayette, contribute to a smoother and healthier pregnancy. By working closely with Lafayette sleep medicine healthcare providers and implementing lifestyle adjustments, pregnant individuals can handle OSA with confidence, ensuring a safe development during this special time.

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