Pregnancy is an ambiguous condition: on one hand, it’s pleasant waiting for the baby to be born; on the other hand, there are a lot of changes, difficulties, and challenges during the long 9-months term.
The explanation is simple: the female body is fully adjusting to the growing fetus. The process starts from the first day of pregnancy and goes on till the delivery. During this time a woman has to deal with a multitude of unpleasant consequences, such as abdominal rash, nasal congestion, skin pigmentation, high and low blood pressure, varicose veins, lower back pain, swollen feet, stretch marks, etc.
Some women go through pregnancy without any complications. They don’t even know what morning sickness, heartburn, and constipation are. Some of the future mothers suffer from all the abovementioned issues and count the days to the moment their torment will end.
Each of the pregnancy stages has its own challenges. Thus, in the 7th month of pregnancy, an expectant mom often has to deal with shortness of breath. A pregnant woman has a feeling that there is less and less air in her lungs.
So, a logical question ensues: why is it so hard to breathe, and how to cope with the shortness of breath during pregnancy?
Causes of the Shortness of Breath During Pregnancy
The shortness of breath during pregnancy has a fairly logical explanation – every week the fetus gains weight and needs more space, so the uterus starts stretching and is putting pressure on the nearest internal organs.
First of all, it concerns the stomach (that’s the reason for heartburn during pregnancy), the bladder (frequent urination), and the intestines (this ends in constipation).
The uterus reaches the mother’s midriff only by the third trimester, and it’s a great advantage, of course. It would be very hard to tolerate the shortness of breath during pregnancy during the whole 9-months term.
The extent of the shortness of breath during pregnancy depends on how high the uterus reaches.
In the majority of cases, the problem disappears by itself 2-3 weeks before the birth. The baby is getting ready for its journey into this world, the uterus lowers into the pelvic region, and the pressure on the midriff stops.
However, sometimes the lowering of the belly doesn’t happen, and the poor woman has to wait until giving birth.
The shortness of breath during pregnancy occurs mostly after physical or emotional strain: walking upstairs, an argument, anxiety, etc.
If you feel short of breath during pregnancy when you’re completely calm and not busy you’ll need to consult a doctor. They’ll appoint a blood test and an ECG because the shortness of breath during pregnancy can be the aftermath of anemia or heart disease.
A lot of pregnant women mistakenly believe that the shortness of breath during pregnancy means the baby lacks oxygen. It’s not true, so don’t worry.
How To Cope with the Shortness of Breath During Pregnancy?
First of all, you’ll need to discuss the problem with your physician. A professional must warn the future mother about the possibility of such a reaction and give some tips for dealing with the shortness of breath during pregnancy without drug therapy.
But if you’re not so lucky you can use some of the following helpful advice.
When you feel short of breath, try the method used during childbirth. If you still haven’t been acquainted with respiratory gymnastics, it’s time to do it!
The breathing technique will help you to feel much better, and your baby will get more oxygen too. By the time of the delivery, you’ll have become proficient in proper breathing.
Here is the breathing exercise: get on your hands and knees, and try to relax as much as possible. Take slow deep breaths in and out. Repeat until the shortness of breath passes.
When you feel shortness of breath during pregnancy, try to find a place to sit or lie down. If there is no such place, sit on your haunches a bit.
Sleeping in a half-sitting position will relieve the shortness of breath at night. Don’t sleep on your back! It can also be a reason for the shortness of breath during pregnancy and isn’t good for the baby.
If you spend most of your time in a sitting position, take more walks to get fresh air. Spare some time for it – a half an hour every day will do.
Control yourself: eat more often but in smaller portions. You’d better eat a little food 5-6 times a day than get a hearty meal 3 times a day. Your stomach has already been affected by the increased uterus, so stuffing the belly with a lot of food will only make the shortness of breath during pregnancy worse.
A Comfortable Sitting Position
Sit in an armchair, relax your upper body. Lay your right hand on the belly and the left one – on your chest. Breathe in for 3 seconds, then exhale.
The herbal infusion of the motherwort and valerian can help. But consult your doctor before trying this remedy.
Take a bath with the rosemary and lemon balm essential oils. You can also use an aroma lamp.
And, as a conclusion: don’t panic if you suddenly feel shortness of breath during pregnancy. Try to remember our tips instead: calm down, relax, and normalize your breathing.
We wish you successful and painless childbirth!
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.