Shortness of breath is a common symptom during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, increased demand on the heart and lungs, and the growing size of the uterus. Shortness of breath usually affects about 60% to 70% of pregnant women. It is usually caused by the growing uterus pressing on the diaphragm, which makes it harder to breathe.However, in some cases, shortness of breath can indicate a more serious condition that requires medical attention. Here are some signs that suggest shortness of breath may be a cause for concern during any trimester of pregnancy:
- Difficulty breathing or gasping for air: If you are struggling to take deep breaths or feel like you are not getting enough air, this could be a sign of a more serious condition.
- Chest pain or tightness: If you experience chest pain or tightness in addition to shortness of breath, this could be a sign of a heart or lung problem.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat: If your heart is beating faster than usual or irregularly, this could be a sign of a heart condition.
- Coughing up blood: If you are coughing up blood or have bloody mucus, this could indicate a serious lung condition.
- Swelling in the legs, feet, or ankles: If you are experiencing swelling in your lower extremities, this could indicate a blood clot or other circulatory problem.
Here are some guidelines for when to worry about shortness of breath during each trimester specifically :
Shortness of breath is not usually a concern in the first trimester, as the baby is still small and the uterus is not yet putting pressure on the diaphragm. However, if you have a history of lung or heart disease, or if your shortness of breath is severe and accompanied by chest pain, coughing, or wheezing, you should contact your healthcare provider. During the first trimester, shortness of breath may also be a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, or a molar pregnancy, which is a rare type of pregnancy where abnormal tissue grows instead of a fetus. These conditions can be serious and require immediate medical attention.
Shortness of breath may become more noticeable during the second trimester as the uterus grows and puts pressure on the diaphragm. Some of the reasons for shortness of breath during the second trimester of pregnancy may include:
- Anemia: This is a condition where the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. It can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, and other symptoms.
- Asthma: If you have a history of asthma, your symptoms may worsen during pregnancy, leading to shortness of breath.
- Preeclampsia: This is a serious condition that can develop during pregnancy and can cause shortness of breath, high blood pressure, and other symptoms.
- Heart or lung problems: Rarely, shortness of breath during pregnancy can be a sign of a more serious underlying heart or lung condition.
- Increased demand on the lungs: As your baby grows and your uterus expands, it can put pressure on your diaphragm and lungs, making it harder to take deep breaths.
- Hormonal changes: During pregnancy, your body produces higher levels of the hormone progesterone, which can relax the smooth muscles in your body, including those in your lungs. This can make it harder to take deep breaths and may lead to shortness of breath.
- Anemia: Some pregnant women may develop iron-deficiency anemia, which can lead to shortness of breath, fatigue, and weakness.
- Pre-existing respiratory conditions: If you have a pre-existing respiratory condition, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or allergies, you may be more likely to experience shortness of breath during pregnancy.
- Preeclampsia: This is a serious condition that can develop in the third trimester of pregnancy and is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. It can cause shortness of breath, as well as other symptoms such as swelling, headaches, and vision changes.
Overall, it’s important to listen to your body and contact your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your breathing during pregnancy. They can help determine the cause of your symptoms and provide appropriate treatment if necessary.