Breathlessness in Pregnancy


Breathlessness or shortness of breath is a very common symptom of pregnany. Some times it worsens as the pregnancy advances. It may be mostly normal, however sometimes, it may be a sign of underlying serious illness.
Why do mother feel breathless in Pregnancy?

The various factors that lead to shortness of breath in pregnancy are:
1- During Pregnancy, there is an increased demand of oxygen to meet the additional physiological requirements of the mother and to ensure the proper growth and development of fetus. To meet this demand, the breathing increase in both frequency and intensity.
2- The distending uterus puts pressure on the pulmonary diaphragm, compromising the functional capacity of lungs. So, lungs have to expand forcefully against the pressure resulting in shortness of breath in mother.


3- The increased blood supply to the respiratory tract due to pregnancy itself, or respiratory infections may lead to the inflammation of mucous membrane. This may affect gaseous exchange across the mucosa resulting in Breathlessness.
4- Gastro-esophageal acid reflux from stomach to food pipe resulting in chemical irritation and breathing discomfort. This happens due to the decrease in muscular tone of the valve present between food pipe and stomach and also because of the pressure from distending uterus on stomach.

When should she consult the Doctor?

If the mother has strenuous breathing with air hunger.
Easy fatigability,
Lack of sleep,
Breathless with minimum activity or even at rest.
Breathlessness worsens on lying down.
Associated with Chronic cough.
Blue lips or finger nails (Cyanosis),
Signs of heart or lung disease.
Blood in sputum.
How to deal with physiological breathlessness?

Take frequent small meals and avoid binge eating.
Avoid fatty and spicy food.
Do not lie down immediately after taking food. Prefer lateral position.
For cold and cough, take steam inhalation. It causes vasodilatation, washes away toxins and reduces edema of mucous membrane.
Avoid dusty or polluted area.
If you suffer from Asthma, always carry your inhaler.
Do regular exercises and a walk. Balloon inflation is a good exercise, it would be beneficial to the lungs.
Head end can be raised on medical advice.

The information is shared to create awareness towards Pregnancy and Childcare to reduce maternal and child deaths. Atmost care has been taken by the author to include the verified information from authentic sources. However, kindly discuss the same with your health care provider before implementation.