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Harder to breathe



So I need your input.

I’ve been having some shortness of breath issues that are getting worse. I walked to campus (about 3/4 of a mile) yesterday and was fine going there, but had to stop and sit down three times coming back because I was so winded, my heart was racing and I was clammy and felt like I might pass out. I’m absolutely exhausted right now and my allergies are really bad so I’ve been chalking all this up to that and the fact that I’m growing ever more pregnant. Then the Professor pointed out that I’ve been coughing for several weeks too and that maybe I should go to the doctor.

The problem is: my doctor is out-of-town until the 26th. I’m also terrified to go to the doctor. Because of my autoimmune history any time I go in with any sort of problem other than a sinus infection everyone freaks out, runs a zillion tests, mutters all kinds of scary things to me and then sends me home a totalΒ basket case. If I was not flying to Texas tomorrow for a long weekend with a girlfriend I would just wait until my doctor was back. The fact that I keep feeling worse, though, makes me a little uneasy.

Currently or formerly pregnant ladies, did you feel like this? I’m 26 weeks tomorrow for the record. Should I call the clinic and try to see another doctor? Should I just go to the ER for a workup? I’m clueless and, quite frankly, tired of being short of breath (although suspect this is just par for the course for the next few months of pregnancy?) Input would be greatly appreciated before I go make a big expensive scene.



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  1. March 21, 2013

    Is your midwife out of town too? I’d start with her. My advice is to always check with whoever is handling your pregnancy care and they’ll let you know if they think you should be seen. This way you won’t spend the weekend fretting.

    • March 21, 2013

      I’m actually not seeing the midwife anymore. She called to see why I cancelled my last appointment and I said I’m leaving her practice so I can’t really call her now πŸ™‚ I might call my cousin who is a midwife though…

      • March 21, 2013

        That sounds like a good idea πŸ™‚

    • March 21, 2013

      I should also say that beginning in the second trimester I frequently was short of breath and had a weird racing heart thing that went away when I gave birth.

      • Shinara #
        March 21, 2013

        I am at 23 weeks and I too have been having the racing heart thing (even while sitting on the couch) and shortness of breath when I walk too much. Going up stairs definitely makes my heart race and I breathe like a horse. Never mind the fact that I started snoring, too. We’re pumping a lot of extra blood around our bodies; so, I am thinking that’s got to be exhausting for our systems, too. Also, imagine that extra weight we are carrying around. It’s like constantly carrying around a bag of potting soil! That’s got to be tiring, too…

        • March 21, 2013

          You know, the weight didn’t occur to me but you are absolutely right. I’m 20 pounds up from pre pregnancy weight and that is quite a bit. I look forward to de-babying in June/July and feeling spry again πŸ™‚

  2. March 21, 2013

    I don’t think shortness of breath is that uncommon at this stage in pregnancy. I never experienced it myself, but I have heard of plenty of people who did. However, I also don’t think it’s a bad idea to get it checked out, just in case. I doubt it’s anything serious to worry about (probably just par for the course, as you said), so you might not need to see a doc right. this. minute, but it couldn’t hurt. Really, I think you need to do whatever you think would give you peace of mind. That’s not very helpful advice at all, is it?

  3. JJ #
    March 21, 2013

    I’m 27 weeks pregnant tomorrow and have, in the last 3 weeks, started noticing a lot of shortness of breath. My husband and I did some hiking last week on a trip and I had to stop multiple times to catch my breath. I’m also stuffy all the time, which I’m sure doesn’t help or make the breathing any easier.

    • March 21, 2013

      Same here! I’m not used to having to stop and rest but from what I’m reading from these lovely ladies it is pretty normal!

  4. March 21, 2013

    The shortness of breath is soar certainly pregnsncy related- as the baby grows and pushes up on your diaphragm and all, it gets harder to take full breaths. It gets worse in the last few months but it just means you need to take more breaks. The coughing, though, I’m not sure about- allergies? But I’d still speak with your OB or midwife just for peace of mind.

  5. March 21, 2013

    I’m 27 weeks now and have been experiencing shortness of breath for the past few weeks. It’s getting progressively worse. I think that part is normal and to be expected, but I’m not sure about the coughing. Have you been noticing any heartburn/reflux lately? Sometimes that can make you cough more. If not, I’d get it checked out. It may be nothing more than allergies, but it might be best to look into it, just for your own peace of mind.

    • March 21, 2013

      Ah! I have started having some weird things happening reflux ways. I get this kinda full feeling in my esophagus sometimes and it’s not fun. It chills out with Tums so I associate it with indigestion? This could have a lot to do with the coughing too. Add in the allergies and no wonder. Last night I also had my first “vomit burp” which left me gagging it was so gross. (Lovely, I know) I’m relieved to see other women around the same point as we are who are experiencing shortness of breath. I’m so used to going non-stop full speed ahead. Anything that slows me down and leaves me huffing and puffing is, well, freaky. Thanks for your input!

  6. March 21, 2013

    Shortness of breath is very normal as is heart racing…it’s from all the extra blood being pumped. The cough I would think would be separate. So I’d evaluate things based in how bad the cough is alone…

  7. March 21, 2013

    are you hydrated enough? Thats the first thing I consider when dealing with those symptoms… Dehydration can cause them for sure

    • March 21, 2013

      I’m actually not being as good with the water as I had been. Sometimes it’s just HARD to drink that much. I’m upping the intake again as you are totally right, dehydration can do a lot of unpleasant things. Thanks for the reminder!

  8. Shelley #
    March 21, 2013

    I’m not sure about the coughing but in terms of the shortness of breath, this happens to me too sometimes. It feels really crappy. I described these “episodes” to my OB (shortness of breath + feeling like passing out) and she said this can be really common in pregnancy and that it’s nothing to worry about. I’d say it’s happened to me about five times total. She said stairs can be a big trigger for pg women to feel this way, while other physical activities may not trigger this feeling. For me, it’s almost always after walking up even one flight of stairs. I know it feels like shit but my understanding is that it’s par for the course! That said, follow your mama instinct and be safe.

    • March 21, 2013

      Oh the stairs… I feel it there too. I avoid them at work all together now! I can’t wait until baby is safely on the outside so I can sprint around again! In the mean time, maybe I need to slow down a bit.

  9. jak #
    March 21, 2013

    agree with mrsgg… i was a runner before pregnancy with low blood pressure, low heart rate, etc. now 27/28 wks lmp short of breath at the slightest thing and my heart races, even when i just walk up the steps to get to my bedroom. it was frightening at first, but i’ve gotten used to it and all my number (bp, heart rate) are still healthy and low, its just getting harder to “exercise”. i also cant walk as fast as i used to, so we’ve had to slow our dog walks down.

    are you taking anything for the allergies? there are plenty of safe meds to take, but yeah, i’d check with your cousin midwife. but you gotta get a replacement midwife/doc soon, i would think. do you have one lined up?

    dont know about the cough, but sometimes i get that with allergies. is it a dry throat cough? i sometimes get dry cough with allergies. or have you perhaps recently gotten over a cold and the cough is just an cold hangover? (my right lung still rattles with gunk from a cold i had on new years… my lungs dont heal fast despite them being fine for running). i would guess the cough is not associated with the higher heart rate upon exertion and dyspnea.

    • March 21, 2013

      I have really low blood pressure, too. Glad I’m not alone in feeling like this. It is super scary when it happens and being the fitness nut I am I just figure I’m’ out of shape so I push on, which I don’t’ think is the right way to handle this. I talked to the Prof about all y’alls input and we agreed that I should slow the heck down and that from now on I’ll do my exercise walks with him so I’m not alone if I start to feel bad. He also walks slower than me (despite being nearly a foot taller!) so he should help keep my “energy legs” in check πŸ™‚

      The cough… I’m thinking allergies. After I posted I checked the Lexington allergy forecast and it looks like tree pollen is at a high level, which is my second worst allergy. Maybe I need to wear my respirator 24-7… SEXY!

      • jak #
        March 21, 2013

        hahah, tre sexy. the stormtropper looking one with the cartridges?

  10. March 21, 2013

    I would call your doctor’s office, tell them your concern and ask for a referral to another doctor. I understand why you’re hesitant, but you need to be checked out.

  11. March 21, 2013

    I was that way most of my pregnancy and even a little after the girls were born. Not sure why, but I couldn’t walk hardly anywhere without getting light headed. Couldn’t hurt to check it out with a doctor, but I wouldn’t worry too much.

  12. March 21, 2013

    Its normal, I had the same thing throughout both pregnancies. Lightheadedness, dizziness, that I’m gonna pass out feeling, its all a part of your body adapting to the baby! You could see s doctor just to check on thingd like your blood pressure to be safe, but I’m pretty sure you are just feeling pregnant!

  13. Manda #
    March 21, 2013

    As a formerly pregnant asthmatic, what my immunologist and pulmonologist agreed is that less oxygen for you puts stress (don’t freak out though!!!) on the baby. I’d get an ER workup if it isn’t ridiculous insurance-wise, simply because most clinics want you to see your OB too after viability to check on the baby too. The ER can do both. You may even get a quick L&D tour.

    • March 21, 2013

      Yeah, I saw my asthma specialist a 10 days ago and everything checked out good on my breathing test. I mentioned the shortness of breath and she said that it is pregnancy related- my asthma is controlled. That said, I’m allowed to come by ANY TIME for a quick breathing test and treatment if I start feeling really bad. I might take her up on the offer tomorrow before my flight! Thanks for the input!

  14. March 21, 2013

    I’ve had the same thing. It’s a very common pregnancy complaint. As your uterus grows it presses on your diaphragm literally giving your lungs less room. I have coughed a lot too, which I came to realize was my lungs trying to make room and get air. I did end up going to my PCP for it and they did an EKG and an echocardiogram which showed nothing wrong.

  15. Arbrefleur #
    March 21, 2013

    Same here. Just to throw in two more cents: I have LOTS of crazy lightheadedness and dizziness and scary racing heart. I’m a little behind you, too. And I get a little annoyed because I used to be runner as well. (Ah, well πŸ™‚ ) I also have coughing and mine is associated with my acid reflux. (Which is worse now in second tri.) Hope all these responses put your mind at ease!

    • March 21, 2013

      Yes! So much at ease! I love my readers ❀

      • Shinara #
        March 21, 2013

        I discovered that the acid reflux is worse when I lay on my right side at night. So, I start out on my left side. Also, eating some toast before bed seems to help.

  16. March 21, 2013

    For me, shortness of breath was my first symptom – I was 5 weeks pregnant, lying in bed, no belly to speak of, and was completely out of breath. It stayed that way the whole time I was pregnant. I asked my OB and she said it’s because your heart is working harder at pumping all of the extra blood you are making that it is exhausting your body. Just walk slower (or don’t walk at all) and take a lot of breaks.

  17. March 21, 2013

    I felt like that A LOT after about 18 weeks when I started getting really big. I would just sit down and take deep breaths until I felt better. I had to start really slowing down (I mean literally walking VERY slowly) about that time and ended up on bed rest at 21 weeks. I also tried to stay really hydrated. Of course, I was carrying an entire litter of babies πŸ˜‰

    • March 21, 2013

      Lol, you were carrying an litter πŸ™‚ That aside, I closed my office door and did some deep breathing and relaxation techniques and felt much better. I think the anxiety that the shortness of breath triggers only makes this worse. Thanks for your input!

      • March 21, 2013

        I’m glad that deep breathing helps you! I think I felt that way due to anxiety sometimes too. I spent one day in my office sprawled out on the floor on a yoga mat while our school nurse forced me to eat ice chips. I felt horrible and kept crying all day! What fun!

  18. March 21, 2013

    Lots of people have trouble breathing while pregnant. If you look at those pregnant pics with the see through pregnant ladies in your doctors office you can see why – babe is pushing right into your lungs! Plus, the relaxin hormone makes it harder to breathe. I never had this, but one of my girlfriends did – she literally couldn’t walk and talk at the same time, and if she was talking a lot she had to stop to take big breaths! You are probably fine, just another sign that the chicken is growing!!

  19. Magpie #
    March 21, 2013

    I’m a few weeks behind you, but about 100 lbs ahead of you and I began having trouble breathing in my third month. It’s worse when I lie down (I feel like I am suffocating then), go upstairs, or try to walk faster than the granny shuffle. I also have noticed my sinuses feel more swollen-not congested with gunk, but like the tissues themselves are swollen and my airflow through them is restricted. Most of my coughing is when I can’t get enough oxygen while lying down. I agree with what everyone else has said. Your coughing and shortness of breath probably are not super serious and are because of the pregnancy, but if it would make you feel safer, check it out with a physician or medical professional.

  20. March 21, 2013

    I’m only 8 weeks, and I’m always out of breath after a trip up the stairs, and I’ve had that racing heartbeat as well (almost always at bedtime). I’m also taking blood thinner for the duration of my pregnancy, and apparently those are some of the side effects. I’m actually relieved to hear its just sometimes a pregnancy thing, and might not have anything to do with the meds.

  21. March 21, 2013

    I have been experiencing shortness of breath for weeks now! I definitely don’t think you need to book it to a doctor. For me, it gets so bad sometimes that I can’t even say a full sentence without feeling breathless. My heart was racing in bed this morning for no reason. I was concerned and dr. Googled and it said that unless you are experiencing chest pains it is totally normal. Its definitely a weird feeling when you’re used to being in shape!

  22. March 22, 2013

    Belle one word for you : iron. Guarantee you’re anaemic. I had the same thing, kept feeling like a car that had run out of petrol. I felt so much better once i was on a kick ass dose of iron. If so, get yourself on an iron supplement, but be careful of constipation!

  23. March 22, 2013

    Im about 5 days apart from you and it started a little while ago for me aswell. Its totally normal, the shortness of breath is due to your heart having to work harder to pump all the extra blood your carrying for the baby. Same for the dizziness and the allergies. Your membranes are thinner so you can expect alot more mucus and sinus problems.(I suffer horribly from sinus and its been worse the last 2 weeks due to the pregnancy). I was really worried when I couldnt breath but the doctor explained that it was all normal due to the changes Im going through right now. If you are still worried or the symptoms get worse, then you should go and see the doctor but otherwise, just start taking things alittle easier. Its not a great feeling I admit,I feel totally useless most of the time as I battle to do tasks I totally took for granted before I got pregnant, but its for a good cause and its going to be over soon enough and then Ill be begging for an excuse to sit on my expanding butt and relax πŸ™‚

  24. March 22, 2013

    As most are pointing out, it definitely sounds pregnancy related. I don’t remember when this started for me, but shortness of breath, coughing (allergies + asthma were horrendous last year), snoring and stuffy nose were all there. And then I too had the fullness in my stomach which sometimes led to wet burps, that were nasty. Thankfully that didn’t happen too often and if I could remember to eat less more often, I didn’t get those.

  25. Lydia #
    March 22, 2013

    I had problems feeling very lightheaded/dizzy at about that stage of pregnancy and my blood pressure was a bit low. Then in the 3rd trimester I was slightly anemic as well and was put on iron tablets (probably not a good idea for you, as they’re notorious for making you constipated!). Sounds exactly like what you’re describing.

  26. Kathy #
    March 22, 2013

    I’m not preggers but recently my Dr. noticed I had low blood sugar from a routine blood test. Symtoms: cold, clammy or sweaty skin, pallor, shakiness, lack of coordination, irritability, fatigue, nervousness, excessive hunger, headache, blurred vision, fainting. Causes are more physical activity than usual, not eating on time, missing or delaying meals, too much insulin. If this sounds like it could be what you are experiencing and you haven’t had a recent blood test, I’d look into it. You are tiny and probably don’t have tons of reserves if Chicken is having a growth spurt.

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