HomeHEALTH & WELLNESSBreathlessness During Pregnancy: Causes And Remedies For Shortness Of Breath

Breathlessness During Pregnancy: Causes And Remedies For Shortness Of Breath

Many women complain about the appearance of a feeling of breathlessness during pregnancy, but what is this condition due to? Let’s see what to do if you feel short of breath and when to worry.

Breathlessness During Pregnancy: A Common Symptom

Many pregnant women experience difficulty breathing during pregnancy, but what causes this condition? And why does it appear as much at the end of gestation as at the beginning? When dyspnea occurs in the first weeks of pregnancy, the cause is the increase in the hormone progesterone in the blood, which is one of the fundamental hormones for the embryo to develop correctly in the uterus.

Progesterone accelerates the heart rate in women, with a consequent sensation of lack of air. However, shortness of breath at the beginning of pregnancy falls into typical symptoms and should not cause excessive concern. Breathlessness can also occur when carrying out everyday actions (such as lifting light weights, walking, or getting up from a chair), and although in most cases, it is due to a physical condition, in some women, dyspnea during pregnancy, it may have a psychological origin.

When the latter is determined by psychological factors, the sensations of tension and fear linked to gestation and childbirth are likely to be so intense as to cause an acceleration of the woman’s heartbeat, which, in turn, gives rise to shortness of breath. The anxiety at the beginning of pregnancy could, therefore, be linked to intense emotions and the fear of not being able to manage this moment of significant change. However, there is also another cause.

During the first months of gestation, it is widespread for nausea and episodes of vomiting to appear, following the action of hormones on the female body. Overall, symptoms accompanying these problems are tachycardia, a feeling of discomfort, and an increase in heart rate: this can, therefore, lead to shortness of breath during pregnancy during the first months, i.e., when it is more likely to suffer from hyperemesis.

Also Read: Pain Under The Chest During Pregnancy

Breathlessness During Pregnancy In The Last Months

If the sensation of being short of breath in the first few weeks is linked to increased progesterone and emotional tension, breathlessness during pregnancy in the second trimester tends to worsen due to the rise in the female uterus. Starting from the sixth month, the uterus begins to significantly increase its size, causing pressure on the surrounding organs and causing them to tend to modify their original position;

In particular, the tension created near the diaphragm determines a specific difficulty in breathing deeply in women, a sensation that becomes more acute as the date of delivery approaches and the belly gets bigger. Female lung expansion is reduced, and breaths become shorter and more frequent, especially when making a small effort. This condition is considered a physiological event typical of the last part of gestation, so there is no reason to worry excessively. In the previous weeks, or when the baby begins to move along the birth canal, the dyspnea may decrease as the pressure exerted by the uterus on the diaphragm is reduced.

Other Causes Of Shortness Of Breath During Pregnancy

In addition to psychological tensions and the average increase in the size of the uterus, other common causes that can cause dyspnea during pregnancy are:

  • Excessive weight growth. A significant increase in weight can lead to a condition of respiratory fatigue and lower physical resistance due to the more substantial stress to which the cardiorespiratory system is subjected;
  • Twin pregnancy ;
  • Presence of an asthmatic pathology in the pregnant woman;
  • Decrease in the level of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin, i.e., the protein that has the function of retaining oxygen to transport it to the various parts of the body, can undergo a decrease during gestation, either due to an increase in blood volume or by a more significant iron requirement (which in turn determines a lower production of red blood cells and, therefore, hemoglobin). This condition of hyperoxygenation also affects the cardiorespiratory system, causing the heart to overwork, which tends to pump more blood and, thus, increase the respiratory rate. All this translates into a sensation of breathlessness, which in turn is amplified by the presence of the belly and the pressure of the uterus on the internal organs;
  • Exposure to environments saturated with irritants, such as cigarette smoke ;

When Is It Time To Worry?

Having breathlessness during pregnancy is a fairly common condition, but are there any situations that should raise alarm? Generally speaking, when dyspnea is very frequent or disabling, and if it is accompanied by solid tachycardia, it is advisable to contact your gynecologist to undergo a test (cardiological examination, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram).

Particular attention must be paid if shortness of breath during pregnancy appears with a certain intensity in the first trimester, as it could be a sign of a cardiorespiratory pathology that should not be underestimated. Furthermore, if you experience dizziness, headache, bluish lips, chest pain, or dizziness, you should call your doctor or go to the hospital.

Shortness of breath during pregnancy: what to do To solve the problem of breathlessness during pregnancy without resorting to drug therapy, it is possible to implement some practical strategies, including:

  • Make time for relaxing activities or to rest;
  • To improve circulation, lift your legs to allow the blood to flow more easily and give a feeling of lightness to your legs;
  • Try to maintain a correct posture, i.e., with the torso straight and vertical. This helps the lungs expand and reduces the feeling of lack of air;
  • Raise your arms above your head to reduce pressure on the rib cage and facilitate the expansion of the lungs;
  • Practice light physical activity, such as yoga or nature walks;
  • Slow down and sleep a sufficient amount of hours ;
  • Observe a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables. Prefer foods rich in iron such as meat, fish, legumes, and dark leafy vegetables;
  • Make sure you don’t get too tired ;
  • do not make too intense efforts ;
  • Favor quiet activities and uncrowded places;
  • Do not consume elaborate and heavy meals to digest, but introduce more minor and more divided portions of food over time;
  • Sleep on the left side so that the weight of the uterus does not compress the inferior vena cava or the blood vessel that transports blood to the heart;
  • Sleep in a room where the air is not excessively dry;
  • Practice breathing exercises ;
  • Do not wear too tight clothing (such as compression girdles).

If the sensation of shortness of breath is very frequent or disabling, it is advisable, as already mentioned, to contact your doctor or gynecologist.

Also Read: Can You Eat Chestnuts During Pregnancy?


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