Girls In Us Starting Monthly Cycles At 2-3 Years Old What Every Pregnant Woman Must Know

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What Every Pregnant Woman Must Know

My wife Kathy is expecting our third son anytime soon, and her experiences during her current and past pregnancies bring up some important things that all men and women, pregnant or not, should know about. Although poor sleep, nasal congestion, postpartum depression and weight gain are an almost accepted part of pregnancy, these can be particularly problematic for those women who struggle to recover beyond their first year post-pregnancy. In addition to the extra weight they can’t seem to shed, many of these women find that their health and energy level is considerably worse than it was before pregnancy.

However, there are measures you can take before giving birth to help you get back to the way you felt before you got pregnant. There are some important concepts related to pregnancy that are often overlooked by many medical professionals but when viewed from my sleep-breathing paradigm, explain 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 understand what helped her overcome her postpartum depression after our first two sons were born.

It is certain that you will gain weight if you are pregnant. What many of us don’t think about, however, is that when you gain weight in your abdominal area, the fat cells in your tongue and throat area increase in size as well. This fact alone can have significant consequences for pregnant women, during and especially after pregnancy.

A new concept I propose is that all modern humans are susceptible to narrowing and collapse of the upper airways to varying degrees. And because the airway is a uniquely dynamic device that is modified by any change in the soft tissues surrounding the area, weight gain can dramatically affect the rate of inspiration and expiration especially while we sleep, when the muscles and soft tissues lose tension and lose relaxation .

As I will explain further, this is one reason why, even those who are not pregnant, can progress into the extreme end of this sleep breathing problem called obstructive sleep apnea. Similarly, any amount of weight can move you up on this line to some extent. This is why many pregnant women start snoring, especially in their third trimester.

Complications During Pregnancy

Pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes are two common conditions during mid to late pregnancy. These conditions are thought to be distinct clinical conditions specific to pregnant women. Pre-eclampsia is a potentially dangerous condition where the mother develops severe high blood pressure with a risk of kidney failure and death for the baby.

Gestational diabetes is another dangerous condition for the mother and the baby. There are many studies that have reported an association between obstructive sleep apnea and these two conditions during pregnancy, but they are usually viewed as occasional, isolated events. Doctors usually recommend dietary and lifestyle changes and then resort 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 oddity and has not gained attention as a very common way to treat preeclampsia. The same situation 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 by the growing fetus. This is especially true in the third trimester. But one thing to keep in mind is that as women gain weight, if they develop mild or significant sleep-breathing problems, by necessity, they will naturally prefer to sleep on their sides anyway.

Similarly, many people with sleep breathing problems already sleep on their sides or stomachs already for the following reasons: Due to varying degrees of jaw narrowing, the tongue and voice box (which grow to their normal size), take up too much space inside. the mouth These are people who mouth easily when a doctor presses hard on the tongue depressor so that the back of the throat can be seen behind the tongue. For these people, when they lie flat on their backs, the tongue falls back partially due to gravity making the airway that much narrower. In this position, the person usually breathes through a slit only 2-3 mm wide. While you are awake, breathing is normal because your throat muscle tone increases as you inhale.

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

This is why when pregnant women gain weight, the fat cells in their throat will narrow the throat, and exacerbate this vicious cycle. During this process, if you also catch a common cold or suffer from an allergy attack, the mild inflammation that occurs in the respiratory passages can further narrow the throat, aggravating more tongue collapse. After you choke, huge vacuum pressures in your throat cause mild amounts of normal stomach juices to end up in your throat, causing more inflammation and narrowing in the throat.

It has also been shown that these same juices can go up into the nose, making nasal congestion worse. Nasal congestion worsens further tongue collapse causing a vacuum effect downstream. Therefore due to these circumstances, weight gain during pregnancy, although normal, should be gradual and moderate.

The Secret of Progesterone

Although pregnancy and especially the weight that it induces many adverse side effects for women, there is one unique advantage that pregnant women have during pregnancy that many men with sleep breathing problems have not called progesterone.

Progesterone is a hormone that significantly involves a woman’s reproductive cycle (along with estrogen). During a woman’s monthly cycle, estrogen helps stimulate egg development and release, while progesterone promotes uterine health to support any potential embryo development. One little-known feature about progesterone that even many doctors are unaware of is the fact that it acts as an upper airway muscle dilator. This can have profound effects on your tongue, giving it more muscle tone.

For pregnant women, this slight muscle tone is, in effect, what helps them counteract what could be a harmful side effect to their weight gain during pregnancy. However, during post-pregnancy when these levels decrease, it is a different story. Studies have shown that tongue muscle tone is lower in postmenopausal women and increased significantly when progesterone is added.

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

In retrospect, these factors significantly affected the way my wife felt right after my first son was born. It took her almost a year before her postpartum depression completely resolved after our first son was born. It wasn’t until she lost all her pregnancy weight that she started to feel better.

Breathe Better, Sleep Better, Feel Better

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

The first thing you need to do is keep all your airway passages clear and unclogged, and this includes your nose. If your nose is stuffy, the simplest thing to do is to apply nasal saline, which comes in a variety of nasal applicators from sprays to pumps to Water-Pik machines. Another popular way to get salt water into your nose is a Neti pot, which is the Indian Alladin’s lamp-like container where you mix your salt and pour it into your nose.

If your nostrils collapse when you inhale, then nasal dilator strips (Breathe-rite is one brand), or internal nasal dilator devices (Nozovent, Breathewitheez, Nasalcones are three examples) can help. Sometimes women are put on allergy medications for pollens, dust or pets. This should be done under the care 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, then your tongue may be susceptible to collapse. There are a variety of dental appliances available for snoring and mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Although not officially designed for use in pregnant women, these devices are not harmful to the baby and can only help the baby because it helps the mother sleep better.

If you have any of the complications of pregnancy or if your fatigue is too severe to the point where you are incapacitated, a consultation with a sleep doctor may be warranted. CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, has been studied and found to be beneficial in a handful of small, preliminary studies.

The most important thing to do 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 gain and how you will feel. You may want to consider working with a medical professional (your doctor, a dietitian, or a trainer). The devices mentioned during pregnancy may be suitable for after childbirth as well.

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

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