9.6  Checking for shortness of breath

Healthy respiration

Some shortness of breath, especially late in pregnancy, is normal. Many women get a little short of breath when they are 8 or 9 months pregnant.

  • What do you think causes this?

  • As the baby gets bigger, it squeezes the lungs so there is less room to breathe. Breathing may get easier when the baby drops lower in the belly shortly before labour begins.

A woman finding it hard to breathe
Figure 9.8  Shortness of breath can be a warning symptom.

Warning symptom

If shortness of breath is making a pregnant woman uncomfortable, this is a warning symptom, especially if she has other signs of illness (Figure 9.8).

Shortness of breath can also be caused by:

  • Anaemia
  • Heart problems
  • Tuberculosis
  • Asthma
  • Lung infection
  • A blood clot in the lung
  • Allergies.

Important!If a pregnant woman has trouble breathing all of the time, or severe trouble even once, or if you think she may have any of the illnesses listed, refer her to a health centre.

9.5  Checking for signs of anaemia

9.7  Checking her blood pressure