Shortness of breath during pregnancy is a cause of fear among women, but is not really something to worry about. It could get serious only when accompanied by more serious problems like chest pain.
Breathlessness during pregnancy is a common concern, especially early on in pregnancy. You need more oxygen when you are pregnant and this is because the growing child in your womb also needs to breathe.
Breathlessness may spark an expression of fear or worry in the mother, but it is not a cause for concern at all. Shortness of breath is prominent in the first and third trimester, though it can be experienced throughout pregnancy.
There is an increase in hormones, particularly progesterone, directly affecting the lungs and stimulating the respiratory system in the brain. The number of breathes you take per minute changes very little during your pregnancy, and the amount of air that is being inhaled or exhaled starts to increase rapidly.
When a woman is in the infancy of pregnancy, the progesterone hormone increases the woman’s lung capacity. This increase in the lung capacity of the woman is what delivers the oxygen to the mother as well as the foetus. Considering that more amount of oxygen is being delivered to the blood, you may experience an increase in the number of breaths you take thereby, leading to a feeling of shortness of breath.
Expansion of the Uterus
As the uterus begins to expand in size in the third trimester, the organs begin to change their positions. The expansion makes the uterus put an increased amount of pressure on the diaphragm. Because there is congestion of the organs to give way to the uterus, the diaphragm can no longer extend and retract completely thereby, ensuing shallow breathing. This shallow breathing can cause breathlessness or shortness of breath. By the end of the third trimester, when the pressure of the diaphragm is alleviated, the shortness of breath is usually relieved.
You could be suffering from shortness of breath even in cases when you have anaemia or some more serious heart problems or pulmonary disease. If this shortness of breath is severe or you are experiencing this along with chest pain, coughing up blood, dizziness then you must by all means visit your doctor. Otherwise, it should ideally resolve with proper rest and care.
Expecting mothers often fear the shortness of breath because they think that it indicates a lack of oxygen to the foetus. It is important that pregnant woman understand the fact that shortness of breath occurs because of the extra work that the body does to deliver the much needed nutrients to the foetus.
What Can be Done?
As soon as you feel breathless move to a position that helps you breathe easier. Find positions that help you breathe more easily. Elevate your head with an extra pillow while sleeping in the side is one way you can ease shortness of breath.
Breathing exercises can raise your rib cage and promote more chest breathing. Practice slow, deep, relaxed breathing rather than shallow panting.
Aerobic exercise can improve the efficiency of both the respiratory and the circulatory systems.
If shortness of breath is accompanied by chest pain, seek medical attention immediately. It might be because of a blood clot has dislodged and settled in your lungs.
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