Snoring in pregnancy

Snoring can start during pregnancy. That’s right! And we are not the few who do it, about 1 in 4 women. But why does it happen and what signals that it is wrong?

You’ve read everywhere during the nine months you may feel sick, you may feel more tired, you may suffer from insomnia and you may gain too much weight. But probably no one has told you yet that you can start snoring during pregnancy!

Up to that moment maybe you’ve taken it out on your him who looks like a tractor at night, but from now on the parts could switch.

Some studies show that 25-30% of women snore during pregnancy and in 26% of cases they start snoring during the 9 months.

Why do you snore during pregnancy?

You snore when your upper airways relax and partially close during sleep, which makes it more difficult to get enough air through your mouth and nose.

In pregnancy in particular the uterus grows hand in hand with the baby and presses on the diaphragm. For this reason it is more difficult to breathe if you are sitting on the sofa or sitting at work or sleeping.

Furthermore, during the nine months there are high levels of circulating hormones, especially estrogens which make the nasal mucosa more swollen. The blood volume increases by about 50% and this also causes more swelling.

Over the past 30 years, however, snoring rates are higher than ever. One reason is that many women start their pregnancy overweight or gain too much weight over the nine months. Excess fatty tissue around the neck causes women to snore.

Another often overlooked but important factor is stress .

Stress affects breathing and can lead to snoring. Any type of stress on the body, whether it be physical, mental or emotional stress, or even the “digestive” stress of eating a large meal, can increase the rate of breathing. This increase, in combination with the throat muscles being relaxed when you sleep, can induce snoring.

The risks for mother and child

Snoring during pregnancy is a symptom that should not be underestimated.

Women who snore during pregnancy have a higher risk of suffering from high blood pressure, fatigue, preeclampsia, and having smaller babies at birth .

Pregnant women with high blood pressure and who snore are at increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea , which affects up to a third of women during the last months of pregnancy and manifests itself as repeated episodes of complete and/or partial and/or prolonged upper airway obstruction during sleep. They are usually associated with a reduction in blood oxygen saturation.

Pregnant women who snore are more likely to have a cesarean delivery.

Another consequence could be gestational diabetes, which, according to the CDC , affects up to 9.2 percent of pregnant women. This happens because when you don’t get enough oxygen through your breathing, glucose metabolism is impaired.

Snoring in pregnancy has also been linked to depression during pregnancy and postpartum depression.

How to prevent or stop snoring in pregnancy?

First of all, it is important to ask your partner if they snore and if they notice episodes of apnea during your sleep. If you snore more than three nights a week and also have high blood pressure, you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.

While it’s common to feel tired during pregnancy, daytime sleepiness or extreme tiredness are strong indicators of nighttime snoring.

Talk to your doctor if you are in this situation.

Learn to breathe well

To improve sleep it is important to practice breathing well while awake. If you improve your breathing during the day, you will also benefit at night. Try to always breathe through your nose. If you feel breathless, breathe through your mouth slowly and gently.

Don’t gain too much weight

It is important not to gain too much weight and therefore try to have a correct diet.

Sleep in the correct position

Sleeping on the left side optimizes blood flow, help yourself with special pillows.


Avoid eating a large meal in the evening and go to bed right away. Try to eat dinner several hours before bed and have a snack if you are hungry but avoid sugars which can increase the rate of respiration (and therefore lead to snoring) when they are metabolised.


Keeping the air in the room at the right humidity prevents the nasal mucous membranes from drying out, making breathing difficult

Nasal patches

The patches you find at the pharmacy may bring you temporary relief by keeping your nostrils dilated. In this way, while on the one hand breathing is facilitated, on the other it modifies the speed of the inhaled air. As this speed increases, the air does not have the time to be purified, heated and humidified before reaching the lungs,


Relaxation is used to combat stress which is one of the causes of snoring.

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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