23 answers

I'm Pregnant & Having Shortness of Breath....

About 3 mths ago I noticed, mostly at night, that I was having a hard time catching my breath. As time has gone on & I have gotten bigger, I am constantly struggling to breath. It gets worse when I eat, as if the food is taking up my precious lung space! My OB has showed no concern for this problem, saying that it is normal & told me "At 8mths along you have to expect you're going to be uncomfortable." UNCOMFORTABLE??? It was all I could do not to punch him in the face! This is my 2nd child so I'm well aware of the "uncomfortableness" of being pregnant. I do not classify not being able to eat & breath uncomfortable. It makes it nearly impossible to fall asleep, which means not only have I cut my food intake in half but now it seems my sleep has been cut in half as well. So, my question to you dear ladies is this....Has anyone else had this problem during their pregnancy & if so did you find anything to help you breath easier before the baby dropped? I guess I should mention that I did already see my regular Dr, it is not asthma & using an inhaler does not help. Thanks for any help or comments!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I had the same problem with my second child. She was so high that most of the time I just couldn't get a good breath at all. To tell you the truth, I would push down on her (right at the top of mt belly between the brest) and take in a deep breath. It really seemed to help. Sometimes she would move right back up and other times she would stay down and give me a little break. Sad to say that the problem didn't go away until her birthday. Good luck, I know it's hard to deal with but in the end it's all worth it!!!!

I had the exact same thing with my son who is now 5 months old. He was extremely active (I felt him move at 11 weeks!)...I was short of breath pretty much my entire pregnancy. I'd like to say it went by in a blink but it was a very tiresome pregnancy. I really had no relief...he was just so active that he always took my breath away! I wish you the best and a healthly baby.

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Hi there! Yes, I had this problem also. And like one of the other responses to your problem, I also had to push on the top of my stomach to get a bit of breathing room. I had this problem with all four of my pregnancies, but the worst was when my daughter was breach and her head was under my ribs. For sleeping at night I bought a body pillow and slept on my side with one leg over the pillow to take the weight off of my abdomen/chest. It really helped a lot! You will get through it!

Hi!

I'm also a pregnancy chiropractor and there are a couple of specific (and very gentle) adjustments for pregnancy that might help, one which comes to mind immediately specifically addresses the diagphram (which may be simply "stuck" and need release), as well as some pelvic adjustments that may give your baby more room to move downward. Find a trained pregnancy chiropractor by going to www.icpa4kids.org. There are quite a few of us in the area. I personally have worked with many pregnant women who had this same complaint... you don't have to just live with it.

I'm so glad I'm not the only one to suggest this...it is most likely GERD! I had the same problem when I was 5 months pregnant and I STILL have problems with it. When it first began my OB sent me to an lung specialist who did a complete lung function test and tested me for asthma, the whole works! Every test came back perfectly normal, he said I was his healthiest patient. Well, I knew something was wrong and this was not the normal thing most pregnant women feel when the baby takes up lung space. So my OB then sent me to a cardiologist who did all his tests which came back perfectly normal. He suggested however that it could be GERD and called my OB to make sure Nexium was okay to take while pregnant. It was, and I have been on it ever since, even while breastfeeding!! Within 4 days of taking it I could FINALLY BREATHE! I was finally able to get enough air in my lungs to get a satisfying breath. I still take it and if I forget to take it, guess what, I can't breathe! I don't know if it has anything to do with preeclampsia, like someone else suggested, but I did have preeclampsia too. But now I'm not pregnany anymore (daughter born Oct. 2007). Talk to your doctor about taking Nexium and if he/she won't prescribe it, then go see a Gastroenterologist to see what they say. I go to their PA, Tina at Southeast Valley Gastroenterology Consultants. ###-###-####. She's not who I went to while pregnant, but she's great! (I lived in Houston while pregnant). Send me a personal message if you'd like to talk more about it or ask more specific questions. Hope this helps!!

Hi D.,

Sorry to say your doctor is right. I had the same thing when my son was breach. In the last month or two it was unbearable!!! (Because he was breach he didn't drop very much) I had to prop myself up with pillows and that seemed to help some nights. I understand about the eating. It's like you are so hungry but eating only makes breathing that much harder. I had to snack and have small meals all through out the day that helped a little. Fortunately you don't have too much longer to go and once the baby drops it will get better. Good luck!
~R.

Yes, baby is taking up more room and pushing your diaphragm up, leaving you less room there to capture the intake of air. Water does help, by the way.

BUT

Be sure they are watching you closely for preeclampsia. I had it at 36 weeks (was on bedrest from week 27 on due to preterm labor) with my son, without breathing problems, but AFTER my daughter was born, I was discharged, and found I couldn't sleep that third night due to not being able to breathe. I just couldn't catch a breath. The next day, just walking from my bedroom to the kitchen in my 1 story home made me out of breath. I thought maybe it was gas, but called the doctor who told me to get to Urgent Care or Emergency right away. I did, and good thing, because I almost passed out there. My blood pressure was skyrocketing and pulse was getting really low. I was hospitalized (without my newborn!!!) for 5 days. It was rare postpartum preeclampsia, but basically blood pressure issues.

So they need to watch that blood pressure and the protein in your urine. Also, if you get a pain on the upper right quadrant of your tummy, just under the breast, that could also be a sign of it.

While pregnant, I found going to the pool helped a LOT...the floating took the weight off of everything... as did walking. But rest when you need to, before you are worn out. And watch the stress.

Are you living at high altitude? I had my first three children at sea level, and now am pregnant the fourth time at 7,000 ft, and the difference is astonishing. I get so short of breath I have to sit down and rest just from doing the simplest things.

I had the exact same thing with my son who is now 5 months old. He was extremely active (I felt him move at 11 weeks!)...I was short of breath pretty much my entire pregnancy. I'd like to say it went by in a blink but it was a very tiresome pregnancy. I really had no relief...he was just so active that he always took my breath away! I wish you the best and a healthly baby.

Is your shortness of breath caused by stuffed up nose and sinuses? If so, this is very common for pregnant women even though it completely sucks! (I had this problem.) If this is the case then it makes sense that you would have trouble eating as you need to breath through your nose to have air when you eat. Most women who have this problem have trouble sleeping when they are pregnant. (Sleeping on your back helps). It will stop after you have the baby.
Here's something you can do in the interim.
Let the water run warm in the tub and bend over so that your head faces down. Then cup some water up to your face and vigorously massage your nose and sinuses. Then, cupping more water, let the water run up your nose a few times. Then dry off your face and blow your nose. Letting the water run up your nose IS NOT comfortable but it loosens up the sinuses. You can do this any time (before meals/before bedtime). It's like using a netty pot (if you watch Oprah with Dr. Oz you've seen one.) It's like a tea pot for putting water up your nose. For some reason I think they are too weird for me and prefer to just do it this way. Hope this works for you. I hated not being able to breathe.

Hi D.,
In my last pregnancy, I also suffered from shortness of breath and it ended up I had high amniotic fluid. You may want to have that checked. It was not until I dropped that I felt any relief. My OB refused to drain the fluid because it could have caused problems for the baby since they drain it by amniocentesis. Hope this helps. Good luck.

I had the same issue although I dont think as severe as you. I could sleep at night for the most part. It was really hard for me to catch my breath. Especially if I ate or moved around which makes everything just about impossible. I didnt see much relief after the baby dropped. I have a previous childhood history of asthma so I am not sure if that was the cause or not. I am sorry I dont have much answers for you.

keep addressing the issue to your doctor - like call the office every time it happens - and maybe try a massage with a therapist who specializes in pre-natal massage - good luck

Some O.B.'s can be so dismissive... Thats why I opt to use a C.N.M. Certified Nurse Midwife. They tend to be better listeners and better address your concerns even if they can't do anything about it. (and yes they deliver in hospitals). But enough about that... I have found that sleeping in a more propped up position can help with breathing and heartburn. A good body pillow to prop up your leg up etc while sleeping on your side helps too. Good luck!

Sorry to hear of your problem. Try eating less and more often, as you still need the nutrition for both you and the baby. If this has anything to do with eating it should help you at least some.

Also, have you tried sleeping propped up on two or more pillows or in a recliner? These have both helped me, although with different problems, but I'm thinking that it should still help. It won't be as good of sleep, but from the sounds of it, more or less quality sleep will probably be better for you anyway as you will need your strength after the baby comes.

God Bless and Good Luck!
B.

Hang in there!!! I know it is hard. I had the same thing with my second pregnancy. I carried my son more in front and he was over a pound bigger than my daughter. It will all go away when you deliver. Just take it easy. I slept (when I could sleep) with lots of pillows. My poor husband spent most of my last trimester on the couch, because there wasn't enough room in the bed for him with me, my belly and all of the pillows! I kept asking my OB if I was ever going to be able to breathe again. He kept assuring me that I would. He was right. As soon as I delivered, I could breathe. Good luck. Hang in there, it will be over soon, and you will have your precious little bundle. It will be worth all of the discomfort.

I did a yoga video called The Method-BABY AND MOM YOGA PRENATAL. The exercises really helped open up my chest space and made breathing easier. There are a few things in the video that can seem silly, but in all reality, the silly things were things I used during labor! I highly recommend the video. Give it a try!

I had the same problem with my second child. She was so high that most of the time I just couldn't get a good breath at all. To tell you the truth, I would push down on her (right at the top of mt belly between the brest) and take in a deep breath. It really seemed to help. Sometimes she would move right back up and other times she would stay down and give me a little break. Sad to say that the problem didn't go away until her birthday. Good luck, I know it's hard to deal with but in the end it's all worth it!!!!

If you want another medical opinion I'd ask for a pulmonary referral. Pulomary docs do more than just asthma. You need your sleep and your nourishment!

Hi D.,

Congratulations. I think your OB deserved that punch! His answer was not very reassuring. I did not have these issues when I was pregnant, as I carried low and small but they sure sound(remember, I'm not a doctor, but those symptoms are VERY familiar to me) like GERD, Gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Basically what happens is your stomach muscle doesn't close properly after a meal or the pressure from your baby forces stomach acid and sometimes food to rise up into your esophagus. This causes pressure and discomfort for you when you lay down, and to your breathing, add that to space being taken up by your baby and well, its uncomfortable! The good thing is that it is common to experience it during pregnancy, and there are things you can do. Don't lie down after meals (I used to wait 3 hours) and elevate the head of your bed. Avoid chocolate, coffee, and mints. There is medication for this but your doctor may not want to prescribe it to you in your condition. Here's a website with more info:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000265.htm

If these symptoms sound familiar to you try speaking to your doctor again. Maybe he just didn't get it the first time.

Good luck,
E. W.

I had the same problem with my 2nd pregnancy, my 2nd baby was a full pound bigger than the first, so that may have contributed to my shortness of breath and I couldn't eat much either the last 6 weeks or so. I think your DR is right, the shortness of breath in the last months is normal, just try to move slower, take more rests, change positions often and I noticed that sleeping while sitting helped me. Propped up on pillows or in a lazy boy type recliner. Pretty soon the baby will drop and you'll be able to sleep on your left side again.

I would get a chiropractic treatment! I am a chiropractor but I too had a feeling that my baby was moving up into my lungs when I was pregnant:) It helps so much to have a good adjustment to open up your spine and ribs. I see over 1 inch improvement in lung expansion rates with my patients.

Dr. J. Kuty
Kuty Chiropractic

I had the problem with my second child as he was really big and I had a lot of fluid in with him. I carried him all out front and people were asking me if I were having twins all the time. The problem started for me at about 8 months along. at 38 weeks I was induced and birthed a baby boy that was 9 pounds 6 ounces. He was also very active and always moving. I found out once I got him home, he moves in his sleep. It will be over soon, and there isn't anything the doctor can do for this problem. Like some of the others, I spent some time in a pool to relieve some of the pressure. I also pushed down on my tummy so I could get a good breath or two in every now and then. I had problems sleeping and found that I slept better in a recliner chair then in anything else. Eat little meals and snacks through out the day to get the nutrition you and your child need. Take it easy and make sure the doctor keeps a good eye on your blood pressure.

D.

I hate to tell you this but... the dr. doesn't think it is a big deal because there is just nothing he can do about it. I have been there and know it is a big deal. It sounds silly but I used to spend the better part of my day with both hands on the top of my belly pushing the baby down, literally. I am only 5'3" and just didn't have enough room for what turned out to be a 9 lb baby. I also got most of my sleep sitting up in a recliner chair. The whole last six weeks I couldn't lay down or he completely cut off my air. The suggestion of yoga is probably a good one. I didn't use it for this, but it has been very helpful with many other things later. Best of luck

hello
well i had the same problem.....i even had it when i was about 5 months. i would just eat small meals more often. and i was a server so i had it bad because i always had to walk around. the baby must be in a different position from your first. mine was all inside the ribs and on top of my lungs so thats why it was difficult for me to breath

hope this helps,
A.

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