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Respiratory Problems During Pregnancy

New respiratory problems can show up during pregnancy and existing ones can be amplified. Read on to find out what to watch for and how to ease any discomfort.

Nasal Stuffiness/Bleeding

Once pregnancy is well established, elevated estrogen levels may produce swelling of the nasal tissue resulting in stuffiness, discharge, obstruction, or bleeding. Increased mucous secretion is also common and may make you feel like you have a chronic cold during pregnancy.

The problem is often unresponsive to treatment, but you can try:

  • Use cool air vaporizers in your home and work area
  • Apply normal saline nose drops
  • Nasal sprays and decongestants should be avoided if possible as chronic use may lead to changes in the nasal lining

If you are unsure if you have a sinus infection or normal changes of pregnancy, contact your healthcare provider to determine if further treatment is needed

Immediate care of a bloody nose includes:

  • Loosen the clothing around the neck
  • Sit with your head tilted forward or lying with your head and shoulders elevated, and using mouth breathing
  • Apply pressure by pinching your nostrils for 10-15 minutes
  • Apply ice packs or cold compresses across the nose
  • Pack the affected nostril with a small sterile pad

Continued care should include:

  • Use of moisture to combat dry lining of the nose by use of humidifier, aerosol moisturizer
  • Apply topical petroleum jelly (Vaseline)
  • Seek treatment of infections as needed
  • Apply topical antibiotic ointment if needed

Consultation with your healthcare provider is required for bleeding not relieved by above measures or if there is suspicion of underlying related problems.

Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath is a discomfort mostly experienced in the 3rd trimester and is caused by the uterus pressing on the diaphragm and lungs.

Remedies for shortness of breath include:

  • Stretch your arms up over your head frequently (best when standing) while taking a deep breath; also works well in bed "horizontally"
  • Maintain good posture
  • Practice slow deep breathing when stretching

If you have any questions or would like more information, please call our Women's Center at 605-322-3444.

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