Edema and shortness of breath during the third trimester: What moms-to-be should know

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Are you worried about swelling and breathing difficulties during the last phase of pregnancy? Here's what you need to know

bloated and out of air as you enter the third trimester of pregnancy? Fret not, mom-to-be. This discomfort is perfectly natural. As your baby grows and develops, your body is making space and preparing itself to go through one of the most physically gruelling experiences.

Shortness of breath and edema or swelling caused by water retention are rarely causes for concern, but they also shouldn’t be taken for granted. Here’s what you should know.

Why do pregnant moms experience shortness of breath?

Once you reach your third trimester, your baby has already grown to pretty much their birth weight and height.

Your baby starts push up against your diaphragm and parts of your lungs, which makes it more difficult to take in air with each breath.

Don’t worry though, because this doesn’t mean your body is getting leas oxygen supply. The pregnancy hormone progesterone also encourages your lungs to take slower breaths, which causes oxygen to stay in your body longer.

Amazingly, your body increases its blood volume to make sure that you and your baby get enough oxygen.

How can shortness of breath be relieved?

To help yourself breath more comfortably, make sure to maintain good posture, exercise (preferably aerobic like Yoga), rest when you need to, relax, and don’t overly strain yourself. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you.

If you have a history of asthma, be sure to tell your doctor. Make sure you don’t have anemia, too, as insufficient iron in your blood can also cause difficulty breathing.

Be careful not to ignore pain or severe, persistent cough that accompanies shortness of breath, as it could be a warning sign of pulmonary embolism, or a life threatening blood clot in your lungs. If you experience this, contact your doctor immediately.

Edema and shortness of breath during the third trimester: What moms-to-be should know

photo: dreamstime

What you should know about edema or swelling

During your third trimester of pregnancy, you may note swelling in your ankles, feet, or even your hands. This is because of fluid buildup and water retention, which pools in parts of the body that’s most influenced by gravity, mostly when you’re standing.

If you live somewhere with a warm climate or if you are sedentary, you’re more prone to developing edema. Many women also notice edema gets more severe later in the day.

If you experience facial edema or leg pain, be sure to contact your doctor ASAP. Swelling in the face could be a sign of preeclampsia.

How can I minimize edema?

* Sit with your feet elevated as much as possible.
* Wear anti-edema stockings or knee socks before you start your day
* Steer clear of salty foods to avoid exacerbating water retention.
Increase fluid intake to flush out toxins and minimize water retention

Your last trimester of pregnancy is the final stretch before you meet your little one. Be open with your doctor about any discomfort and anxiety to make sure you maintain a safe and healthy pregnancy journey for your and your baby.

READ: How to exercise safely during each trimester of pregnancy

sources: Healthline, WebMD, WhattoExpect.com

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Written by

Bianchi Mendoza