How to deal with shortness of breath during pregnancy

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Breathing problems during pregnancy

Many pregnant women experience shortness of breath. This can be at any time during pregnancy but is most common during the third trimester. If you are one of the women who experiences this, do not worry as the condition is generally completely normal and it will not harm you or your baby. Baby Arabia is here to tell you what causes breathlessness during pregnancy, under what circumstances it is not normal and when you should consult a doctor.

Is shortness of breath during pregnancy normal?

It is common to experience shortness of breath especially in the third trimester and also in early pregnancy. Nearly 75% of women who never felt breathless earlier, feel short of breath during pregnancy.
If the breathlessness is due to some physical strain like climbing the stairs, then it is completely normal and harmless.

Progesterone the major cause of pregnancy breathing problems
The biggest cause for shortness of breath is progesterone, a hormone that increases during pregnancy. High progesterone levels cause pregnant women to breathe faster. The rise in progesterone begins early in pregnancy, and the shortness of breath it causes can come as a surprise.

How to deal with shortness of breath

First don’t worry! Anxiety itself causes breathing to speed up so getting in a panic will just make the whole thing worse. Sit down and try to relax. If you experience really bad breathing problems you should consult a doctor but the following techniques will help if you practice.

1. Simple self hypnosis – Count your breaths backwards from 10 to 1 imagining you are going down in an elevator. As you count and imagine the lift descending let your breathing get slower and slower and imagine you feel more relaxed as you reach each floor. Say to yourself “by the time I get to the ground floor I will be totally relaxed and my breathing will be fine”.

2. NLP Anchoring – Imagine a time when you felt really relaxed and good. Picture yourself snuggled up in bed or on a beach in the warm sun. Remember how good and relaxed you felt. Now put blink your eyes 3 times say “I feel relaxed and warm, I have no worries”. Practice this a few times.
Next time you start to feel anxious or your breathing starts to speed up blink 3 times and say the words. You may well get straight back to the relaxed feeling!

3. Breathing exercise – Breathe in deeply and hold your breath for the count of three. Let your breath go calmly and slowly and then repeat aiming to slow the breathing as much as possible and regain control. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Baby pushes on your diaphragm

A major issue that exacerbates breathing problems in pregnancy is the lack of room in your tummy as baby grows!
There is only so much room inside you and by the third trimester you may find baby actually pushes on the main breathing muscle, the diaphragm. There isn’t much you can do about the room inside you but breathing exercises and controlled breathing can help with this. However this may still prove difficult so give yourself plenty of time to do things and don’t rush. Aim to be calm and relaxed and take your time!

When to consult a doctor

If your breathing becomes labored and relaxation doesn’t help it’s time to visit the doctor. It may be nothing more than anxiety but always play it safe when carrying a baby.