Does pregnancy seem to be taking the wind out of your sails?

Without fail, every new client I work with at some point complains about feeling “out of breath” during activities that would normally feel easy. If you find yourself in the same boat, trust me when I say this is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.

You see, the first and third trimesters place demands on your respiratory system that make transporting oxygenated blood throughout your body very difficult. For this reason, it is normal to feel winded from something as simple as walking up a small flight of stairs.

During the first trimester, around the time the fertilized egg implants in the womb, The elasticity and volume of your entire vascular system (heart, arteries and veins) increases virtually overnight. This creates a big problem: suddenly there is not enough blood in circulation to fill up all that extra space!

From these changes, your body senses that your vascular system is under filled, which leads you to experience all the symptoms that normally accompany vascular underfill.
These symptoms include:
1. Waves of sudden fatigue
2. A racing pulse
3. Nausea
4. Sweating
5. Dizziness, especially when getting up quickly or during quiet standing

Sound familiar? I know at first these symptoms can seem scary, but they improve progressively as your blood volume expands and usually are gone by the end of the fourth month.

By the second trimester your body has more or less adjusted to its new condition. You should be breathing easy and feeling more energetic. This is the time to really ramp up your prenatal fitness regimen. You may even be able to work out as hard or even harder than you did before becoming pregnant, depending on your previous strength and fitness level. I always stress the importance of taking advantage of this time period because once the third trimester hits, it’s back to feeling tired and breathless.

The third trimester presents its own unique set of breathing problems to deal with. By this point your growing belly and uterus are pressing up on your diaphragm giving your lungs less space to expand. In addition, the weight gained during pregnancy places even more demand on your muscular system, making even the easiest tasks seem difficult. You may feel tired in the beginning of an exercise, or even for the first ten minutes, because your lungs can’t quite get enough oxygen to your working muscles fast enough. Don’t give up! If you can make it past the first ten minutes, the respiratory system will adapt, and exercise will become easier.

Well, there you have it… If you are constantly feeling short of breath, take comfort in knowing that it’s a sign of a normal and healthy pregnancy. Breathe easy!

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