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Pregnancy Causing Restless Sleep

The image of a ‘nesting mom’ getting ready for the birth of her baby sounds picture perfect, but truth is, many moms aren’t getting the rest they need. Dr. Tracy Carbone is a sleep specialist with Lee Memorial Health System, with expertise in perinatal disorders.

“It’s really due to changes that occur with breathing related to the hormones of pregnancy,” says Dr. Carbone.

A whopping 3 out of 4 expectant moms report sleeplessness, some crossing over into seriousness. Hormonal changes may cause muscles in the upper airway to relax, leading to sleep apnea, which can block or disrupt airflow.

“In association with those blockages in breathing we can see drops in oxygenation. Where the mom’s oxygen levels are taking intermittent dips and my concern is what’s happening to the blood flow of her fetus,” says Dr. Carbone.

Increased snoring, choking or gasping during sleep, waking up frequently or pre-existing sleep apnea are red flags to seek an evaluation. A sleep exam may be used to look at breathing and oxygen levels. If needed, doctors may prescribe a CPAP mask to maintain airflow and lower the risk of problems during the pregnancy.

“There are health issues potentially for both the mom and the baby. Research has found an increased risk to develop preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure during pregnancy, gestational diabetes during the pregnancy, and to have a baby who would be small for their gestational age, so a low-birth weight baby,” says Dr. Carbone.

Reinforcing the need to get the message out that a pregnant pause in breathing deserves a closer look.

“We can make a very significant positive impact on pregnant moms by screening and treating sleep apnea,” says Dr. Carbone.

View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

Visit leememorial.org

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