Breathlessness While Pregnant

Shortness of breath is not an uncommon symptom during pregnancy – although it is more often than not associated with later stages of pregnancy rather than early pregnancy – although it is not limited to this stage only. Mild breathlessness will not affect the amount of oxygen which your baby gets.

Causes of Shortness of Breath During Pregnancy

Breathlessness early on in your pregnancy is generally a result of increased levels of the hormone progesterone which will cause you to breathe more often. Progesterone increases your lung capacity allowing your blood to transport more oxygen.

Breathlessness in the third trimester is caused by the now much bigger uterus taking up more space in your stomach – which pushes your other organs and reduces the amount of space which your lungs have to expand when you breathe in.

From around weeks 31 to 34 of your pregnancy your uterus will start to press on your diaphragm – which is the flat muscle that moves up and down when you breathe. These changes may make it hard for your lungs to fully expand. This may cause more shallow breathing, and you may feel short of breath.

You may notice that your breathlessness diminishes during the last week or two of your pregnancy as your baby drops and enters the birth canal and starts preparing for birth.

Shortness of Breath: What You Can Do
  • Sit or stand up straight
  • Slow down. Moving slower places less workload on your lungs and heart
  • Sleeping propped up will place less pressure on your lungs.
Warning Signs

Call your health care provider right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • A rapid pulse
  • Heart palpitations (your heart beats fast and strongly)
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Chest pain
  • Blueness around the lips, fingers or toes
  • A cough that wont get bette go away
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fever or chills
  • Worsening asthma
Breathlessness While Pregnant