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Breathlessness or chest pain during pregnancy

Breathlessness or chest pain during pregnancy may be a warning sign that something is wrong. There are occasions that you should see your your GP, obstetrician, midwife or emergency department immediately. Learn about these signs.

Breathlessness is common during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester (weeks 27 to 40).

The size of your womb and the position of your baby can make it difficult for your lungs to expand.

The extra weight you are carrying may also make you feel short of breath.

See your GP, obstetrician, midwife or emergency department immediately if:

  • the breathlessness is sudden or severe
  • or you have breathlessness and chest pain, heart palpitations or dizziness

Other causes of shortness of breath during pregnancy include:

Anaemia

Anaemia can cause shortness of breath. It usually caused by being low in iron.

Health A-Z: Anaemia

Pre-eclampsia

This could be a cause especially if you have some of the other symptoms of pre-eclampsia.

These are:

  • a headache
  • blurred vision
  • upper tummy pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • swelling of your hands, feet, ankles, face and/or neck

Related topic

High blood pressure in pregnancy and pre-eclampsia

Pulmonary embolism

This is a life-threatening condition. Pulmonary embolism happens when a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or clot in a vein of your lower leg moves to your lungs.

You may also have chest pain, particularly when you take a deep breath in or cough. You may also notice that your heart is beating faster than usual.

Health A-Z: Pulmonary embolism

Asthma

If you suffer from asthma, pregnancy may make your symptoms more severe.

Talk to your GP urgently if you have a history of asthma and notice your shortness of breath is getting worse.

Health A-Z: Asthma

Lung infections and pneumonia

If you have a cough that lasts more than 2 to 3 days always see your GP.

Simple infections make you sicker in pregnancy than they normally would.

This is one of the reasons why it is recommended that you receive the flu vaccine during pregnancy.

Related topics

Vaccines needed during pregnancy

Health A-Z: Pneumonia

Page last reviewed: 17/09/2018
Next review due: 17/09/2021