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Respiratory System

Respiratory System





Breathlessness in early pregnancy is usually caused by progesterone hormones stimulating the brain’s respiratory centre, increasing your rate of breathing.  In late pregnancy, your baby is pressing on your diaphragm, which restricts your breathing: your lungs are unable to expand fully because of the increasing size of the uterus and the fact that carrying around the combined weight of the developing baby, the placenta, amniotic fluid and uterus is hard work.  If breathlessness is accompanied by fatigue and palpitations, this may be a sign of anaemia.

Sit with correct posture, do not slump.  Try propping yourself up with a couple of pillows at night.  If you show signs of anaemia, see your caregiver.  If you develop unexpected or severe shortness of breath, rapid breathing, blue lips and fingers, and a rapid pulse or chest pain, get medical attention immediately.


This is probably related to hormones causing congestion and swelling in the tissue lining of the nose altering the signals reaching the nerves responsible for the sense of smell



This affects the mucus membrane lining the cavities around the eyes, cheeks and nose.  Symptoms include pain above and below one or both eyes, apparent toothache and thick, discoloured mucus.  It often follows a cold and is caused by an infection.

If you think you have sinusitis, tell your doctor, who may prescribe a safe antibiotic or decongestant.  Do not use over-the-counter medicines without consulting your doctor as these can have adverse effects on your baby.


Many pregnant women can feel stuffy during certain stages, for example, from 9 – 12 weeks.  General stuffiness is the result of nasal congestion caused by swollen mucus membranes.

Spider or thread veins are quite normal and often disappear after the birth.  They are caused by the action of oestrogen on the blood vessels.

Try using humidifiers to moisten the air around you especially when using a heater or airconditioning system.  Avoid dehydration, as in theory this can make nasal secretions thicker.  Nasal strips can help to open up the nostrils if you are having problems breathing at night.  This also may help if you snore.  Do not use over-the-counter medication without consulting your doctor as these can have adverse effects on your baby.

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