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Shortness of breath during pregnancy

Some breathlessness is common and normal, particularly as pregnancy progresses. Keep your weight gain within the recommended limits and maintain good posture, especially when you are sitting. Sleep on your side, preferably your left side, not on your back.

Shortness of breath can occur due to increased upward pressure of the uterus on the lungs. However, many pregnant women feel more short of breath long before the uterus has grown very much. It seems that pregnant women may become more sensitive to carbon dioxide levels in the blood, and the body's control systems may quite naturally drive the lungs harder to get rid of carbon dioxide and increase oxygen levels. This may leave a woman feeling short of breath. Another cause of shortness of breath in pregnancy is anaemia.


  • When walking, slow down and rest for a few moments.
  • Raise your arms over your head (this lifts your rib cage and allows you to breathe in more air).
  • Avoid lying flat on your back, and try sleeping with your head elevated.
  • If shortness of breath persists or you are concerned, seek medical advice.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on February 24, 2015

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