Breathing becomes difficult during pregnancy due to several factors. First, elevated progesterone level during pregnancy increases breathing rate. Progesterone, which is essential in foetal development, is also a respiratory stimulant, which means it quickens the breath. In the first trimester, until the body adapts to the new hormonal levels, pregnant women may feel short of breath.
Secondly, blood volume begins to increase during the first few weeks of pregnancy and continues to increase throughout this period. The increased workload of the heart may contribute to the feeling of breathlessness.
Third, as pregnancy progresses, the resting position of the diaphragm rises by as much as 4-5 centimetres. As the uterus enlarges, it takes up more space, pressuring against the diaphragm, compressing the lungs and constricting their movement. As birth approaches and the baby drops lower into the pelvis, this relieves some of the pressure, making it easier to breathe.
Feeling short of breath during pregnancy is quite normal unless it is accompanied by other symptoms such as chest pain, wheezing and coughing.
You can relieve breathlessness by slowing down and taking more mindful breaths. Methods such as deep diaphragmatic breathing and pursed-lip breathing will help you relax and maximize your lung capacity.