Yes, it is normal to experience shortness of breath during pregnancy. Almost around 2/3 of women experience shortness of breath as a part of a normal pregnancy. As your body changes and your baby grows, the demand for oxygen increases. Some pregnant people may notice changes in their breathing almost immediately, while others see differences during the second and third trimesters. In the later stage of pregnancy, your uterus presses on your diaphragm, making it more difficult for your lungs to fully expand. This can cause shallow breathing and breathlessness.
In addition to the increased demand for oxygen, pregnancy hormones can also play a role in shortness of breath. Progesterone, a hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy, can cause the muscles in your respiratory system to relax. This can make it more difficult to take deep breaths and can contribute to feelings of breathlessness.
Though you can’t completely relieve this common pregnancy symptom, there are some things you can do to help make breathing a little easier:
- Stand as straight as you can – Focus on good posture as you sit or stand. Slouching doesn’t give your lungs enough room to expand when you breathe.
- Sleep propped up on your left side – Sleeping on your left side is the best for circulation during pregnancy, and propping yourself up with pillows may also help with shortness of breath.
- Prenatal exercise – Regular exercise can help improve lung function and strengthen your respiratory muscles.
- Avoid overexertion – Overexertion can cause shortness of breath during pregnancy. Take frequent breaks during physical activity, and avoid lifting heavy objects.
- Stay hydrated – Dehydration can make it harder to breathe. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
- Don’t overeat – Give your lungs and diaphragm more room to do their job by not filling your stomach too much.
- Avoid gas-causing foods – Bloating will also lessen the space for your lungs. So avoid or limit foods like beans, cauliflower, garlic, cabbage
- Avoid triggers – If you have asthma or other respiratory conditions, avoid triggers such as smoking, pollution, and allergens that can exacerbate symptoms.
Remember, shortness of breath is a common symptom during pregnancy, but if you experience severe or persistent symptoms, be sure to discuss them with your healthcare provider. They can help determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment if necessary.