Breathing Problems During Pregnancy

As pregnancy progresses, a woman may experience shortness of breath when performing routine, simple everyday tasks, such as climbing stairs. Both in the first and the second pregnancy I felt what it means to be short of breath after reaching the mezzanine. Me? An athlete? How come? I’ve always been active!! And yet…


The cause of breathing problems

According to research from 2015, about 60 to 70% of women experience shortness of breath during pregnancy. Doctors often attribute this to a growing uterus pushing up the lungs and simply making it difficult to breathe. Dyspnoea during pregnancy appears to be caused by a variety of factors: from a growing uterus to changes in circulation, changes in blood flow as well as hormonal changes. Some women notice changes in breathing almost immediately, while others see the difference only in the second or third trimester.

After all, we have lots of duties, we want to be active, a lot of mothers already have children whom they need to look after 😉 You feel good physically, but this breathing problem and fatigue hinder normal functioning… 


First trimester

The fetus is not yet big enough to cause breathing problems. However, hormones play an important part in this period. Pregnant women often breathe faster because of the increase in the amount of progesterone. It is crucial in fetal development. Moreover, it is a respiratory stimulant, which means it causes your breathing to accelerate. The amount of progesterone during pregnancy increases as the pregnancy progresses.


Second trimester

This is a period when the heart works harder, which can cause shortness of breath. During this time, pregnant women may experience more noticeable breathing problems. The ever-growing uterus also contributes to this. The amount of blood in the body increases significantly, which is why the heart needs to pump blood more and more strongly to transport it to all organs in the body and the placenta.


Third trimester

In the third trimester, breathing may become easier again, but not always … Everything depends on the position of the child, how it moves or directs the head in the pelvis. Also, the mother feels the baby kicking in the ribs and pressing on the diaphragm, which can definitely hinder breathing. According to the National Center for Women’s Health, this type of dyspnea usually occurs between weeks 31 and 34.




How to deal with it?


1. Posture

Practicing good posture will allow the uterus to move away from the diaphragm as much as possible. Belts supporting mom’s tummy can help you practice good posture. Ask your physiotherapist for help (I recommend Barbara Smirnow from Healthy Center by Ann).


2. Pillow for sleeping for pregnant women

Sleeping with special pillows supporting the upper back, which relieve the uterus by directing it downwards. In addition, sleeping on the left side can also help, in this position the uterus does not press the aorta, i.e. the main artery.


3. Breathing exercises

Practicing breathing techniques commonly used during delivery, such as Lamaze breathing (I encourage you to read more about it :)). Thanks to this technique, delivery should also be easier.


4. Lavender oil

I have described the properties of lavender oil HERE.


5. Walking outdoors

Enjoying relaxing walks at a pace suited to your own abilities.


6. Slow down, mommy!

It is possible that breathing problems are a sign that you have quit some of your duties. Remember that pregnancy is a special time and rest is also very important.


However, if a pregnant woman has more serious breathing problems, she should contact her doctor immediately!



Anna Lewandowska

Athlete and nutrition specialist. Multiple medalist of the national in traditional karate in European and World Championships. Author of workout plans and books on healthy lifestyle that have helped her motivate over a million of people to change their lives for the better.

Founder of Healthy Plan by Ann, Diet & Training by Ann. CEO of Foods by Ann. Co-founder of Baby by Ann.

Wife of footballer Robert Lewandowski, the captain of the Poland national football team and Bayern Munich player. Read more »

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