Breathing is involuntary and typically unnoticed … until you get pregnant, when breathing deeply may become harder.
Shortness of Breath
Your growing uterus puts pressure on your internal organs and diaphragm, which leaves less room for your lungs to expand and leads to shortness of breath. Going up a flight of stairs is tough towards the end of pregnancy, and you’ll find it harder to breathe. Plus, when you sleep, it becomes harder to find a comfortable position where you can breathe easily.
Here’s what you can do:
- Hold your arms over your head. This raises your ribcage and temporarily gives you more breathing space.
- Try sleeping with your head elevated by pillows.
- Practice very slow, deep breathing while relaxing. This helps you use your lung space to its greatest capacity.
- Slow down when climbing stairs.
In the last few weeks of pregnancy, the baby drops into the pelvis. Once this happens, the pressure is off the diaphragm, so breathing becomes much easier. (Whew!)
Stuffy Nose and Allergies
Sometimes a stuffy nose and allergies occur during pregnancy, even among women who haven’t had allergies before.
If you’ve got a stuffy nose:
- Try to determine what triggers your symptoms (such as pet dander), and avoid it if possible.
- Avoid smoking or being in a smoke-filled room.
- Breath steam from a hot shower, a pot of boiling water (removed from the stove first) or a vaporizer. If you use a vaporizer, be sure to keep it clean to prevent bacteria and mold from growing. A cool mist humidifier may also bring relief.
- Place warm, moist towels on your face to make it easier to cough and clear your chest.
- If you have a cold, try drinking hot soups.
- Salt-water nose drops (1/4 teaspoon salt dissolved in 1 cup warm water) may help. Make a fresh solution each time you use the drops. You can inhale the solution from the palm of your hand, or use a net pot.
- Press or massage your sinuses. Rub on the bony ridge above and under your eyebrows, under your eyes and down the sides of your nose.
- Don’t use nasal sprays or drops (except salt-water drops), which work by shrinking blood vessels and may affect your and your baby’s body.
- Don’t take cold or allergy medicines without consulting your healthcare provider.
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