When baby takes your breath away

Published in For the Health of It Author: Maggie L. Thronaum, DO

Obstetrics/Gynecology
CentraCare Clinic – Health Plaza Obstetrics & Women's Health

Pregnancy can be wonderful, but as a baby grows a pregnant woman’s body changes — and it is no secret that there are many discomforts to deal with throughout this time. Some symptoms, such as nausea, often improve as pregnancy progresses. Others may be experienced throughout pregnancy, such as shortness of breath.

Even early in pregnancy it can feel like it is harder to breathe air in — a feeling often described as “air hunger.” This is likely due to changes in your respiratory system caused by a hormone called progesterone. Another reason is that as the belly grows with pregnancy, the rib cage changes size and shape. While she may feel short of breath, mom and baby are not lacking in oxygen. There is just a change in the way your lungs expand.  

Shortness of breath associated with pregnancy should be mild and occur gradually. If you have heart or lung disease; or if your shortness of breath starts suddenly, is associated with chest pain or the feeling of a racing heart, does not resolve with rest, or is accompanied by a cough seek medical care or call your physician.

If you are an expecting mom and suffering from mild shortness of breath, try these tips to breathe easier.

  • Listen to your body. Slow down or stop what you are doing.
  • Maintain good posture. Stand and sit up straight.
  • Change positions.
  • Sleep elevated. Raise up the head of the bed, if possible, or prop yourself up with pillows.

If you need help in finding a provider for you or your child: