Friday, March 27, 2009

Help with breathing issue

At the end of my last pregnancy, I had two sleepless nights in a row due to, for lack of a better term, nasal engorgement of late pregnancy. As soon as I would start falling asleep, my nasal passages would constrict and I'd begin to snort/snore/gasp, which would wake me up with a startle. I was pretty miserable, but luckily I went into labor and it went away.

Well, it has started again. So, here are some burning questions I have:

1) Is there an official name for this? I searched nasal engorgement late pregnancy and there are lots of mentions of it, but nothing about treatments or comfort measures
2) Can I do anything to make it go away? Seriously, if I have several more weeks of this, I don't know how I will survive. Really. As in, last night I only got 2-3 hours of sleep total because of this issue.

I'm not congested at all. I's just that with the increased blood volume, the mucous membranes are swollen and engorged, and this can lead to this kind of snoring/airway obstruction. I phone my midwife about it today and she said she'd ask around for suggestions. She also commiserated with me, since she's dealing with the same thing right now (she's pregnant and due in June)



  1. I'm not sure I 'get it'....but would those breathe right strips work??

    My husband snores like you wouldn't believe and they help him...

    Of course I could have totally misunderstood the breathing problem ;-)

  2. Are you using a humidifier? Also, maybe a fan or other circulated air would help keep the airways open?

  3. This happened to me when I was pregnant. A combination of Breathe-Right strips and a Netti- Pot each night did the trick. Good Luck :)

  4. I just searched snoring in pregnancy and found a bunch of stuff w/ some remedies. But beware there is also some stuff about preecampsia too.

  5. "Breathe Right" strips were also the first thing that popped into my mind.


  6. I have a long history of nasal/sinus issues that became much worse during my 2 pregnancies. I used (and still do) Flonase nasal spray. It is a steroid nasal spray that acts locally to help with the inflammation. It may take 1-2 weeks to kick in but it works really well and is safe in pregnancy. I SO know your pain. Also a little Afrin nasal spray is ok for a few days but don't use too often because you can get rebound stuffiness. As mentioned befor daily use of a netti pot or just a saline nasal spray is good also.

  7. There's an off-brand of those breathe rite strips that works/worked better for me than even the breathe rites - clear passage is what I think it's called. It costs less than BR and they stick better - and don't leave glue behind on your nose that you have to scrub off for dear life in the morning. They really work well - I had the same thing happen during both of my pregnancies.


  8. You could also try essential oils that open up the sinuses, in a diffuser, like eucalyptus. That helps me. Also, elevating the head with another pillow helps.

  9. I highly suggest a neti pot (nasal irrigation). At the very least it will help soothe the engorged tissues and prevent irritants from getting trapped in your sinuses. I wrote about the process on my blog (

    The best part? No side effects! Good luck :-)

  10. Try searching "pregnancy sinusitis" I've gotten it with all three of my pregnancies, but never as bad as you're describing, so I never tried to do anything about it. I therefore have no advice. Good luck though. I hope you find some relief!

  11. I'd really like to hear what works for you, if you do find anything. I've had this issue throughout my entire pregnancy, just about. Though I'm not the one losing sleep--my poor husband is! He had to startle me awake the other night because I'd kept him up for over an hour.

  12. I also had this problem in late pregnancy and the neti pot worked wonders.

  13. Hi Rixa,
    This was a question of a midwifery list-serve I belong to just today. Here are the highlights of responses,
    smiles and love,
    (from your Iowa IMA community)

    No cows milk or fruit juices ( both produce lots of extra mucus- eustation (sp) tubes often get clogged) people have a harder time getting rid of the mucus.

    Tons of water.

    Preg women tended to have more inflammation in the throat, ears and nasal area from estrogen.

    Get the inflammation down, gargel alot with saltwater, use nasal irrigations like the netti pot and again reduce or get rid of mucus producing foods.

    For some people, placing an extra pillow under their heads or propping head of bed can help with drainage. Try the nasal strip for nose also.

  14. What about mint, eucelyptus or some kind of vapor or oil? That helps me.

  15. It actually sounds like apnea. I'm not sure there's alot you can do about it. A sinus rinse before bed (the rinse is often more effective then the netti pot) may help and you could give the breath right strips a try. But I would research sleep apnea and see what treatment there is. Good luck.

  16. it happens to me too. but it starts in my 4th month. I HATE it.

    the things that help me:

    sleeping on my left side - I always breath better on that side.

    humidifier... the more moisture the better.

    a shower before bed

    sometimes I use saline spray to moisten it - which seems to relieve some of the swelling. it's especially helpful in the car b/c it is at it's worst when I'm sleeping or in the car.

    warm foods like soup. or tea.

    drink lots of water - though maybe not *right* before bed b/c peeing will then be the reason you can't sleep all night!

    if I'm seriously desperate i take a 1/4 dose or less of benedryl to help me sleep. honestly though too much will make it much worse! so be careful if you try that.

  17. I have had some luck with acupuncture for this problem--the needles go in right next to your nose. I found one that does sliding scale fees through here:

    The results were subtle and cumulative, but I do feel it helped.
    She was also able to totally resolve the symphysis pubis pain that I developed at 22 weeks and which I was sure was going to mean I would have to stop working. I'm now a huge believer!

  18. Thanks for all your helpful comments and suggestions. Fortunately the last two nights have been much better, but I will definitely keep these tips in mind if it worsens again.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...