Breathlessness During Pregnancy

Feeling short of breath or breathless during pregnancy is a common pregnancy symptom. It is easy to see why a pregnant woman may feel short of breath during the later stages of pregnancy, but I was surprised to be feeling breathless so early on in my pregnancy.

According to a study conducted by the Kaplan Medical Centre 60-70% of pregnant women were found to be experiencing shortness of breath. The medical term for shortness of breath is Dyspnea.

Shortness of Breath in the First Trimester of Pregnancy

You are a few weeks into your first trimester of pregnancy. All of a sudden you feel like you are having some sort of breathing problems. Like you are short of breath. A feeling similar to when you have been doing cardio exercises and really need to breath deeply to fill your lungs to provide your body with the oxygen it needs.

Feeling Short of Breath in the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Feeling short of breath during pregnancy is also common during the late second trimester and during the third trimester. At a more progressed stage of pregnancy, breathlessness is common due to the growth and size of your baby.

What Causes Breathlessness During Pregnancy?

  • Breathlessness during early pregnancy is generally caused by an increase in the progesterone hormone, according to Havard Medical School. Progesterone causes the body to breath faster.
  • During early pregnancy, the fast influx in progesterone causes changes with our breathing to take effect quickly. Philips Team describe that a pregnant women needs 20% more oxygen. Therefore the capacity of our lungs increases in early pregnancy, leaving pregnant women feeling out of breath.
  • Medical News Today write that feeling out of breath could be a result of the heart working harder to pump the increased volume of blood around the body.
  • During the late second trimester and the third trimester of pregnancy, your baby and your growing uterus will start pushing upwards, putting more pressure on your diaphragm and lower rib cage. It is natural to be feeling short of breath with this extra pressure being put upon your breathing apparatus.

Recommendations for Easing Shortness of Breath During Pregnancy

The feeling of shortness of breath in the earlier stages of pregnancy is more due to you getting used to your new lung capacity and having to breath faster. You feel like you are not getting enough breath because you are no longer filling the requirements of your lungs completely.

  • Breathing is a habit. We get used to the normal oxygen intake requirements of our bodies and adapt our breathing accordingly in order to provide our lungs with the fill they need.
  • Train yourself into a new breathing pattern habit.
  • Take iron supplements (like Floradix) to help increase the flow of oxygen in your blood.

Practice breathing exercises during early pregnancy

  • Practice taking more deeper breaths.
  • During early pregnancy, when you first notice changes with your breathing, become aware of your breathing patterns.
  • Allocate times each day to practice breathing exercises.
  • Take time to concentrate on taking 10 deeper breaths – perhaps once an hour or when you go for a toilet break..
  • Dr Sears recommends standing up and lifting your arms to the side whilst breathing in, then lowering your arms whilst breathing out. Lifting your arms helps to increase the space inside your rib cage, allowing you to take deeper breaths.
  • It does not take long to get used to your new oxygen requirements if you train yourself to get used to it. As long as you keep up the practice, your new, deeper breathing will become second nature.

Later stages of pregnancy

  • During later stages of pregnancy, be sure to check your posture; sit up straight to allow more space for your diaphragm to fully expand.
  • Push your upper chest outwards to free up more space in your lower ribs.
  • Once your belly has grown more, find a good position for sleeping.
  • It is good to keep your head and back elevated to make more room for your diaphragm to work properly.
  • Find a pregnancy pillow to suit your most comfortable sleeping position and sleep propped up.

Breathlessness During Pregnancy Video

Please remember that I am not a medical professional. I am speaking from my own experiences.

Always contact your doctor for a fully qualified medical opinion. If you are experiencing severe shortness of breath, do not delay seeking a medical opinion.