Pregnancy brings many changes in your body. Besides your growing belly, you may notice issues like heart palpitations and even snoring while you sleep.

In fact, around half of pregnant people end up snoring on a frequent basis during pregnancy, according to the American Thoracic Society.

Is snoring a sign something’s wrong? Here’s what may be causing your snoring, some tips for how you can stop it, and when you might want to talk with your doctor.

Simply put, snoring is a sound caused by vibrations of soft tissue in your throat. It usually happens if your throat is narrowed or obstructed in some way. Other times, environmental factors may cause it, like dry air.

You snored before pregnancy

You may have snored before getting pregnant. You may notice it more now if you’re not sleeping as well as before, or if you’re just more attuned to your body during pregnancy.

Your hormones are surging

The hormones estrogen and progesterone increase to support your growing baby during pregnancy. Along with that comes the potential for airway pressure changes, sleep apnea, and snoring.

The increased hormone levels can also make your nose stuffy (from swollen tissues) or cause pregnancy rhinitis.

You’ve gained weight

For most pregnancies, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends you gain 25 to 35 pounds.

Whether you’re in this range or not, weight gain (particularly in the third trimester) may put pressure on the muscles that keep your airway open at night, leading to obstructive sleep apnea and snoring.

Environmental factors

With already irritated nasal passages, you may be particularly sensitive to dry air or other situations that lead to snoring, like recent illness.

Experts recommend keeping the air in your bedroom “neither too dry nor too humid” by using a humidifier.

Similarly, the irritation from smoking or exposure to smoke is another possible cause of snoring and other sleep-disordered breathing during pregnancy.

Other sleep habits are at play

Side-sleeping is the go-to recommendation among doctors for the best sleep position during pregnancy. One reason? Sleeping on your back may lead to snoring.

Not getting enough quality sleep may also have a link and leave you feeling groggy during the day.

You may be predisposed

African American women have an increased risk of sleep-disordered breathing than women of other races and ethnicities, says the American Thoracic Society.

In one 2019 study on insomnia, sleep, and snoring, researchers discovered that women who self-identify as Black tended to report more sleep issues.

Not only that, but your income level may also have some impact on snoring and sleep quality.

The answer to this question is a solid maybe.

For some folks, snoring may be a part of pregnancy and due to increased weight or hormonal changes. For others, it may mean something more.

Some research has shown some associations between snoring and adverse pregnancy outcomes, like:

If I snore, do I have sleep apnea?

Not every person who snores has or will develop sleep apnea. That said, snoring can be a sign of this condition if it accompanies other symptoms, such as:

  • gasping for air
  • dry mouth
  • frequent waking
  • pauses in breathing

If you notice these symptoms in addition to snoring most nights, ask your doctor about getting a sleep study.

Is snoring during pregnancy a sign of preeclampsia?

High blood pressure during pregnancy is referred to as preeclampsia. Studies have linked snoring as a possible association (greater than two-fold) with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, including preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia generally develops sometime after week 20. Other symptoms include:

Is snoring a sign of gestational diabetes?

Between 2 and 10 percent of pregnant people may develop gestational diabetes (GD), reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Studies do link sleep issues during pregnancy with GD. In particular, researchers say specifically that snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, and low quality sleep put women at higher risk of developing GD.

You may not have other symptoms of GD, but your doctor will test your body’s response to glucose somewhere between 24 and 28 weeks.

Is snoring associated with perinatal depression?

Researchers in a 2021 study have also uncovered that snoring during pregnancy may be a risk factor for perinatal depression. This type of depression occurs during pregnancy rather than after pregnancy (which is called postpartum depression).

In the 2021 study, participants filled out questionnaires assessing their mood, habits, and snoring. Just over 34 percent of participants reported snoring three or more times each week.

These women also had an increased chance of reporting depressive symptoms than their non-snoring counterparts.

Again, you may snore during pregnancy because that’s your baseline. Whether the snoring gets worse will depend on:

  • how your pregnancy hormones affect you
  • how much weight you gain
  • other individual factors and health conditions you may develop

If snoring does get worse, you may particularly notice it toward the end of the second trimester and in the third trimester.

And some research suggests that women who snore before pregnancy may develop obstructive sleep apnea due to hormonal changes or along with conditions like GD and preeclampsia.

If you have concerns or questions about how snoring may affect you and your baby, talk with your doctor.

There are some things you can do to soften the snoring or stop it altogether.

While these home remedies may work, it’s still a good idea to let your doctor know about the snoring, as it may be a sign of another condition that needs treatment or monitoring.

If you haven’t already, try the following to see whether it helps your snoring:

  • Sleep on your side. Sleeping on your back may make snoring worse. Plus, sleeping on your back may not be comfortable as your belly gets bigger. You can buy pregnancy pillows to help your body stay on your side.
  • Prop yourself up. Elevate your head a bit with pillows for support. Doing so will help clear your airway.
  • Use a humidifier. Warm mist or cool mist: Either works well to add moisture to the air so it’s less irritating.
  • Use nose strips. You can find nasal dilator strips over the counter that attach to your nose. They may help your nose airway open wider and lessen snoring. While you’re at it, using a saline nose spray to clear mucus may also help.
  • Eat well. Excess weight can lead to snoring. ACOG recommends adding just 340 calories to your day in the second trimester and 450 calories in the third trimester for optimal weight management. But speak with your doctor about what weight gain is best for your situation; everyone will have different needs (for example, if you’re carrying multiples).
  • Steer clear of smoke. Even secondhand smoke may irritate your airways and lead to snoring.

Sleep hygiene is particularly important during pregnancy. With all the aches, pains, and tendencies toward insomnia, you may feel like you’re not getting your best rest.

Here are some tips to sleep better during pregnancy:

  • Try going to bed around the same time each night to get your body into a rhythm. It may also help to set a standard wake time.
  • Create a bedtime routine that brings calm before sleep. For example, take a warm bath and read a book.
  • Set the stage for sleeping by keeping your room dark, cool, and relatively quiet (unless you like white or pink noise for sleep).
  • Avoid napping too close to bedtime. Consider making a 3 p.m. cutoff, for example.
  • Keep active by getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. Activities like walking or swimming get your heart rate up without taxing your body.
  • Skip the late-night snacks. Eating too close to bedtime may lead to heartburn and acid reflux as your belly grows.
  • While you’re at it, skip the caffeine in the afternoon and evening to help with sleep.
  • Save your bed and bedroom for sleeping. Doing other tasks in bed, such as browsing your smartphone, may make it difficult for your brain to calm itself when it’s finally time to sleep.

Overall, aim for between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of sleep each night. You may need more sleep, particularly if you are waking up frequently overnight.

You may not realize you snore until your partner says something. Or perhaps you have woken yourself up at night with the added noise.

Whatever the case, take note of your snoring and discuss it with your doctor. It may just be another one of those annoying pregnancy issues.

However, there are some cases when snoring may signal a possible medical condition that needs closer attention.