Breathlessness or shortness of breath is common during pregnancy, particularly if you are pregnant with twins or if you have gained more weight during this period. Most pregnant women will feel shortness of breath at least at some point of pregnancy.
Causes of breathlessness
During the earlier stages of pregnancy, the rib cage moves to improve the lung capacity, while hormone progesterone makes the body more sensitive to carbon dioxide content in the exhaled air. These changes make your breath deeper, making you feel short of breath. Some expectant moms are more sensitive to these changes and feel more breathless when compared to others.
As pregnancy progresses, the growth of the baby adds to breathlessness. During the third trimester, the womb pushes against the diaphragm and puts pressure on the lungs. This is particularly true if the baby is placed high. This breathlessness is quite normal during pregnancy.
When will you have relief?
Breathlessness may last till baby moves down into the pelvis, which happens around 36 weeks. But if you have had a baby before, this movement may not happen until later.
How can you ease breathlessness?
Light exercises are the best way to ease this complaint. Light or gentle exercise refers to physical exercise that allows you to have a conversation during the work out without being breathless.
When should you meet the doctor?
You should meet your doctor if you
- Have severe breathlessness
- Feel faint after a short period of activity
- Have chest pain when you exert
- Have difficulty while sleeping
- Have palpitations
Breathlessness may also be a symptom of anemia. This is because the body has to work harder to supply oxygen to the baby when the mother has anemia. If you have asthma, do discuss the same with the doctor. Asthma should be controlled as it may be a risk to you and the developing baby.