Cell Machine-Paced Line Continuous Flow Process Worker-Paced Line What Every Pregnant Woman Must Know

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What Every Pregnant Woman Must Know

My wife, Kathy, is expecting our third son any day now, and her experiences with current and past pregnancies raise some important questions that all men and women, pregnant or not, should know about. Although poor sleep, nasal congestion, postpartum depression, and weight gain are an almost acceptable part of pregnancy, they can be especially problematic for those women who struggle to bounce back in the first year after pregnancy. In addition to the extra weight they can’t get rid of, many of these women find that their health and energy levels are significantly worse than they were before pregnancy.

However, there are steps you can take before you give birth to help you get back to how you felt before you were pregnant. There are some important concepts related to pregnancy that are often overlooked by many health professionals, but looking at them from my sleep-breathing paradigm, it explains why these events occur and what you can do about it.

What you don’t know can hurt you

I had a eureka moment when my wife helped me realize what helped her overcome postpartum depression after the birth of our first two sons.

It goes without saying that you will gain weight when you are pregnant. But many of us don’t consider that when you gain weight in the belly area, the fat cells in the tongue and throat area also increase. This fact alone can have important consequences for pregnant women, during and especially after pregnancy.

A new concept I propose is that all modern humans are susceptible to upper airway narrowing and collapse to varying degrees. And because the airway is a uniquely dynamic apparatus that changes due to any change in the soft tissues surrounding the area, weight gain can greatly affect the rate of inhalation and exhalation, especially during sleep when the muscles and soft tissues lose tension and laxity.

As I will explain below, this is one of the reasons why even those who are not pregnant can progress to the extreme end of this sleep breathing problem called obstructive sleep apnea. Similarly, any weight gain can raise you on this bar to some extent. This is why many pregnant women start snoring, especially in the third trimester.

Complications during pregnancy

Preeclampsia and gestational diabetes are two common conditions in mid to late pregnancy. These conditions are said to be special clinical conditions characteristic of pregnant women. Preeclampsia is a potentially dangerous condition in which the expectant mother develops severe high blood pressure with the risk of kidney failure and the death of the baby.

Gestational diabetes is another dangerous condition for both mother and child. There are many studies that have reported an association between obstructive sleep apnea and these two conditions during pregnancy, but they are usually treated as occasional, isolated events. Doctors usually recommend diet and lifestyle changes, then turn to medication when conservative options don’t work.

But despite many studies showing that women with preeclampsia can be effectively treated with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), it is considered a rare anomaly and has not gained attention as a very common treatment for preeclampsia. The same applies to gestational diabetes.

The importance of sleeping position in pregnancy

Women are recommended to sleep on their left side during pregnancy, presumably because of less pressure on internal vital organs and blood vessels from the growing fetus. This is especially true in the third trimester. But one thing to keep in mind is that women will naturally prefer to sleep on their side if they develop mild or significant sleep breathing problems out of necessity as they gain weight.

Similarly, many people with sleep-disordered breathing already sleep on their side or stomach for the following reasons: Due to the varying degrees of jaw narrowing, the tongue and vocal apparatus (which grow to normal size) take up too much space inside. mouth. These are people who close their mouths easily when the doctor presses hard on the tongue depressor so that the back of the pharynx is visible behind the tongue. In these people, when they lie on their backs, the tongue partially falls back due to gravity, making the airways that much narrower. In this position, a person normally breathes through a gap only 2-3 mm wide. When you are awake, breathing is normal, as the tone of the throat muscles increases during inhalation.

But when you fall asleep, and especially when you enter deeper sleep, by definition all your muscles, including those of your throat and tongue, must relax. With only a 2-3 mm opening and the relaxation of the tongue muscles, your tongue will fall back, causing an obstruction. Most people consciously or subconsciously wake up after a second or two and then turn onto their side. But if you stopped breathing for 10 seconds or longer, you only had apnea. Most people partially compensate for this by sleeping on their side or stomach, but this is usually not enough.

Therefore, when pregnant women gain weight, the fat cells in their throat will narrow the throat and worsen this vicious cycle. If during this process you happen to catch a simple cold or have an allergy attack, the mild inflammation that occurs in the airways can further narrow the throat, making the tongue even worse. When you burp, the huge vacuum pressure in your throat causes small amounts of normal stomach juices to come up into your throat, causing more inflammation and constriction in your throat.

It has also been shown that these same juices can go up into the nose, making nasal congestion worse. A blocked nose exacerbates further tongue collapse by causing a downward vacuum effect. Therefore, under these circumstances, weight gain during pregnancy, even if normal, should be gradual and moderate.

The Secret of Progesterone

Although pregnancy, and especially weight gain, causes many adverse side effects for women, there is one unique advantage that pregnant women have during pregnancy that many men with sleep apnea do not have a hormone called progesterone.

Progesterone is a hormone that is fundamentally related to the female reproductive cycle (along with estrogen). During a woman’s monthly cycle, estrogen helps stimulate the development and release of an egg, while progesterone promotes the health of the uterus to support the eventual development of an embryo. One little-known property of progesterone that even many doctors are not aware of is the fact that it acts as a dilator of the upper airway muscles. This can have a powerful effect on your tongue and give it more muscle tone.

For pregnant women, this slight muscle tone is actually what helps them avoid what could be a harmful side effect to their weight gain during pregnancy. But it’s another story when these levels drop after pregnancy. Studies have shown that tongue muscle tone is lower in postmenopausal women and increases significantly when progesterone is added.

Imagine the effects of a decrease in progesterone just before a woman’s period, or during menopause, when progesterone begins to slowly decline in the early 40s. The same thing happens during pregnancy: progesterone rises during pregnancy and drops immediately after delivery. During pregnancy, despite all the expected weight gain, progesterone (in addition to keeping the uterus healthy) prevents the tongue from falling back. But when a woman gives birth and progesterone drops, you are left with all the extra weight of pregnancy without the added protection of progesterone. It’s no wonder women have trouble sleeping in the first few weeks after giving birth (in addition to having to feed the baby every few hours).

In retrospect, these factors greatly influenced how my wife felt immediately after the birth of my first son. It took almost a year for her postpartum depression to completely go away after the birth of our first son. It wasn’t until she lost all her pregnancy weight that she began to feel better.

Breathe better, sleep better, feel better

Although pregnancy can affect the way you breathe and therefore your sleep during and even after delivery, there are simple ways to minimize the negative side effects and speed up your postpartum recovery.

The first thing to do is to keep all your airways clear and unobstructed, including your nose. If your nose is congested, the easiest thing to do is to use saline nasal spray, which comes in a variety of nasal applicators, from sprays to pumps and Water-Pik devices. Another popular way to get saline into your nose is through a Neti-pot, which is an Indian Alladin’s lamp-like container that you mix saline solution into and pour into your nose.

If your nostrils close up when you inhale, nasal dilation strips (Breathe-rite is one brand) or internal nasal dilator devices (Nozovent, Breathewitheez, Nasalcones are three examples) can help. Sometimes women are prescribed medication for allergies to pollen, dust, or pets. This should be done under the supervision of your doctor. If none of these options work, it’s time to see an ear, nose and throat doctor.

If you usually like to sleep on your stomach or side, your tongue may be prone to collapse. A variety of dental appliances are available for snoring and mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Although not officially intended for use by pregnant women, these devices are not harmful to the baby and can only help the baby by helping the mother sleep better.

If you have any of the complications of pregnancy, or if your fatigue is so severe that you become incapacitated, a consultation with a sleep doctor may be warranted. CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, has been researched and found to be useful in a handful of small preliminary studies.

The most important thing after giving birth is to try to lose the pregnancy weight. This is obviously easier said than done, but there is a direct correlation between your persistent weight and how you will feel. You may want to consider working with a health professional (your doctor, dietician, or trainer). The mentioned accessories during pregnancy can also be suitable for after childbirth.

Whether you’re pregnant or not, breathing well while you sleep is vital to your overall health. But if you’re pregnant, it’s even more important to breathe well, especially right after giving birth.

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