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Shortness of Breath in Pregnancy

The pressure in the abdominal cavity increases during pregnancy due to the growth of the uterus. The diaphragm moves upward. This reduces the range of breathing movements. There is a feeling of lack of air. It is aggravated by walking and physical activity. This phenomenon is called shortness of breath.

Shortness of breath is more pronounced in overweight women and multiple pregnancies. The symptom does not affect the development of the fetus and the health of the mother. It only makes it uncomfortable to move.

When Does Shortness of Breath Start in Pregnancy?

The first symptoms of shortness of breath when walking a woman begins to feel at the beginning of the second trimester. The next wave of feelings of lack of air is characteristic at the beginning of the third trimester. This symptom appears less frequently at the end of pregnancy.

Shortness of breath begins when the heart and internal respiratory organs are displaced. The shift of the diaphragm provokes an increased number of respiratory movements.


A woman experiences shortness of breath for the first time at the 16th week of pregnancy. A pregnant woman feels that it is difficult for her to breathe normally when walking long or fast. The symptom manifests itself more noticeably from the 30th to the 32nd week of pregnancy.

Shortness of breath does not require treatment and resolves on its own after the organs adapt to work in a displaced position.

Shortness of Breath pregnancy weeks

When will it end?

The symptom completely ceases to manifest itself after the 32nd week. This is typical of the normal state of a pregnant woman. Shortness of breath can persist for a long period of gestation if the woman had problems with blood vessels and pressure before pregnancy.

The symptom disappears after the diaphragm becomes accustomed and the number of respiratory contractions normalizes.

How Shortness of Breath Usually Feels during Pregnancy?

A woman does not feel satisfaction from oxygen saturation when she inhales while short of breath. There is an impression of lack of air, difficulty in breathing, and stiffness. The pregnant woman cannot continue to walk or exercise normally. Respiratory contractions become more frequent. The chest expands more than usual.


Shortness of breath in acute form manifests itself for a longer period. It can appear with simple slow walking and a slight load. The symptom prevents the woman from speaking normally and continuing her movements.


A slight manifestation of the symptom is characterized by its appearance only in case of strong physical exertion: a quick step or run, a long climb up the stairs, lifting weights. Shortness of breath is not noticeable in other cases.

Shortness of breath should not be accompanied by negative symptoms: pain, numbness of the limbs, fainting.

Prevention methods

Measures to prevent shortness of breath during pregnancy are aimed at maintaining a healthy lifestyle before conception. Training, regular walks, nutrition, and the exclusion of nervous strain are the key to good health during pregnancy. Preventive measures will help a woman’s body better and faster adapt to heavy loads. Let us consider in more detail the methods of preventive measures for shortness of breath:

Daily routine

Don’t overwork yourself. Adjust your work and leisure schedule. Get regular sleep. Live strictly according to the regime that corresponds to a healthy lifestyle. Late falling asleep, lack of rest, and spontaneous mode are bad for the health of the heart and blood vessels.

Eliminate bad habits

Smoking and the circulatory system are badly affected by smoking. You should get rid of it at least six months before pregnancy. Alcohol, fatty and sugary foods, and carbonated drinks are a direct path to the onset of a symptom even without pregnancy. It is necessary to eliminate all bad habits at the planning stage or its beginning.

Take care of the nervous system

Any stressful situations, anxiety, or emotional stress can provoke problems in the cardiovascular system. Shortness of breath will be a constant companion to these problems. Avoid tense atmosphere, conflicts, unrest, and nervous breakdowns. Healthy nerves will solve many problems during pregnancy. Take a course of psychotherapy or treat your nerves in a hospital if necessary.

Why Shortness of Breath Occurs in Pregnancy?

Shortness of breath during pregnancy appears due to hormonal and functional reasons. The volume of circulating blood increases under the action of hormones. This increases the pressure in the vessels and internal organs. This change provokes frequent respiratory contractions.

The uterus presses on the internal organs when it grows. The diaphragm moves higher than its previous position. She can no longer make wide swings during respiratory movements. This causes a feeling that there is not enough air. Shortness of breath appears.

The cause of shortness of breath during pregnancy may be complicated by cardiovascular problems or the development of heart failure. Sometimes among the reasons indicate anemia that appeared during pregnancy. Increased physical activity during the gestation period can complicate the symptom. Difficulty breathing is increased by wearing tight clothing.


It is better to deal with shortness of breath with an integrated approach. The set of measures that reduce the manifestation of a symptom includes therapeutic and restorative measures. Means of protection against shortness of breath are advisory. It is better to seek help from a specialist if the symptom is acute. Basic remedies for shortness of breath:

Breathing practices

Use proper breathing techniques from yoga and meditation. They will help restore the balance between diaphragm contractions, normalize breathing and calm down. Breathe deeply and slowly. The use of breathing techniques strengthens blood vessels, restores the nervous system, and quickly brings the condition back to normal.

Loose clothing

Don’t wear tight underwear. Prefer seamless bras made from natural materials. It is better to choose sports-type models so that they do not hamper movements, including respiratory ones. Wear loose-fitting clothing. This will reduce pressure on the chest and abdomen.

Nutritional control

You should try not to overload the stomach to reduce pressure in the chest and abdomen. Additional exposure to the diaphragm will increase the symptom of shortness of breath. Eat small meals. Fractional nutrition will reduce the load on the cramped space inside the abdominal cavity. The feeling of lack of air will appear less often.


It is imperative to consult a doctor if shortness of breath is accompanied by chest pains, a feeling of numbness in the hands, severe arrhythmia, and a feeling of wetness in the palms. These are symptoms of acute heart failure that require immediate hospitalization.

It is better to undergo an additional examination if shortness of breath is observed for a long time and there is no period of relief. The symptom should not appear for more than 3 weeks in a row.

What Not to Do

It is not necessary to continue movement or other physical activity when shortness of breath occurs. Try not to panic because it will only make the symptom worse. You need to stop and restore breathing to an acceptable rhythm. It is undesirable to go to bed immediately. This may complicate the situation. What exactly you don’t need to do:

Drink water in one gulp

It is irrational to make additional movements with the chest when breathing is difficult. This will double the symptom of shortness of breath. Swallowing requires great effort and contractions of the pharynx.

Take a sedative

Shortness of breath has nothing to do with disorders of the nervous system. This is not a consequence of an overstrain of the emotional background. Sedatives are inappropriate.

Do physical exercises

It is impossible to get rid of shortness of breath by increasing physical activity. Only rest can restore the rhythm of breathing. Don’t try bending, squatting, or changing positions to eliminate the symptom.

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