7.5  Respiratory changes

During pregnancy, the amount of air moved in and out of the lungs increases by nearly 50% due to two factors:

  • each breath contains a larger volume of air
  • the rate of breathing (breaths per minute) increases slightly.

During pregnancy, many women find they get short of breath (cannot breathe as deeply as usual). This is because the growing baby crowds the mother’s lungs and she has less room to breathe. But if a woman is also weak and tired, or if she is short of breath all of the time, she should be checked for signs of sickness, heart problems, anaemia or poor diet. Get medical advice if you think she may have any of these problems.

7.4.5  Oedema in pregnancy

7.6  Changes in the gastrointestinal system in pregnancy