Navigation

Short Breath During Pregnancy

When I was in my 3rd trimester, I started to notice how hard it was to TAKE A DEEP ENOUGH BREATH! The thing is, I would not have noticed this issue if I was not out of breath so often. While at first, I caught myself trying to breathe harder, I realized that it would be better to focus on opening up the thoracic (upper back) region so that I could breathe into my ribs more. This alone was a lifesaver to my upper body tension.

There are a few different ways we can breathe, here are the 3 most common ways:

  1. We can breathe UP. Watch someone breathe this way or try it yourself- your collar bones move up and down when breathing. This way isn’t good because it causes issues with the cervical spine and neck. This breathing is usually associated with stress.
  2. Another common strategy is to breathe down into the belly, plunging everything downward with every breath. Most who breathe down are not aware of this pattern nor of the challenge it introduces while pregnant. Those of us who tend towards belly breathing are the ones who feel this “I can’t get enough breath!” when breathing during pregnancy because baby is restricting the ability to do what we want to do – breathe. This breathing pattern isn’t ideal either because it increases intra-abdominal pressure and pushes our organs downward.
  3. The third way we can breathe is OUT- into the ribs. This is a more ideal way to breathe. Some call it 3D breathing. Our ribs are designed to MOVE this way and when we do so, we put way less pressure down on our core and pelvic floor.

Why is it so difficult to breathe OUT into the ribs?

Most of us have a rib cage that is restricted in some way from how we have moved and held our bodies throughout our lives. We’ve lost the ability to mobilize the upper back! As an example, sitting at a desk without moving much doesn’t help the mobility of our rib cage. So, yes, it IS going to be harder for most pregnant moms to breathe properly with these restrictions. In addition to being more mindful about rib breathing, we want to work on opening up the upper body, getting more mobile in common tight spots and gaining more space as we grow during pregnancy.

How to improve your upper body mobility?

Here are a few simple exercises that can really help with releasing upper body tension so that breathing becomes easier as well. These focus a lot on rotation. We are big fans of rotation because many pregnant moms are so locked down in their ribs that they cannot rotate, creating even more pressure in their core and pelvic floor and tension.

Chest and Shoulder Stretch and Strengthen + Core Work:

Sit comfortably. Hold both arms in front of you, inhale and as you exhale hiss the exhale slowly and twist your chest to the right ensuring that your hips are mostly stable. Keep gently twisting on each exhale and reach your right arm long long away from you. Keep your spine long, no slouching or excessive rib lifting / thrusting. Switch sides holding just a breath 6 times and then hold 5 breaths each side. Amazing for your spine, shoulders, chest and core.

Hands and Knee Rotation

Come to your hands and knees, knees a little wider than feet. A neutral spine so no tucking your pelvic or collapsing your chest. Inhale and raise your right hand toward the right, up to the sky. Turn your chest as you do so, twisting gently and allow your hips to shift to the right. Lift away from your left arm and try not to let your right shoulder fall into your ear so reach your right hand up to the sky. Gently move your chest in the direction of your nose (like back arching but way less). Hold 5 breaths and switch. This works your core, arms, spine and shoulders.

 

Related Articles

  • I'm so grateful for the One Strong Mama program, it helped make my 3rd pregnancy the most comfortable yet. This program helped me find ways to prevent further diastasis recti that I had experienced before, as well as find ways to adjust daily movements practices to continue to feel strong all the way through birth and postpartum. As a prenatal yoga instructor and social worker, I appreciated Lindsay and Lauren's focus on mindful movement, alignment, as well as their inclusiveness of all the ways we give birth. Margot Strahl

  • I'm a mom of three, a doula, a yoga and fitness professional with over a decade of experience, and I love the OSM program. The exercises are simple and easy to follow. But even more, they are truly purposeful, with a clear focus on building strength and function for pregnancy, birth and life. The videos and the library of information have definitely informed my teaching. And at a fraction of the cost of most professional trainings, I  now have ongoing access to an incredible collection of resources. Moms in the pregnancy year and beyond, and professionals working with this population, will greatly benefit from this program. I can't recommend it highly enough. Melissa Gutierrez Nelson

  • Our patients love One Strong Mama. We notice that patients who are working through the One Strong Mama program have less restrictions throughout their soft tissues and muscles. Our patients who have dedicated time to One Strong Mama, do not tend to have many complaints or favor certain positions through their pregnancies. As we continue working on balancing their pelvis with chiropractic care and bodywork, having little soft tissue and muscle tightness it makes their visits with us further apart than other patients that are in our office. We highly recommend One Strong Mama to our expecting mamas! Dr. Jeni Massa and Brianna Bing with Sprout Chiropractic and Wellness

  • Lindsay and Lauren's work got me through my 3rd pregnancy. Their restorative and corrective exercises are easy to do, the instruction easy to follow, requires very little equipment, and can be worked into daily movement practices. I fee stronger than I ever have and cannot recommend this program enough to mamas! You don't have to be in pain during pregnancy, be a strong mama and live well! Laura Pladson

  • I had such an amazing experience with One Strong Mama and would highly recommend to everyone. Not only did it help prepare me physically, but also helped me process emotionally while preparing for my vbac. I was able to have such an easy birthing time as well as recovery postpartum thanks to the movements/exercises I learned. Jessica Anderson

  • Staying comfortable and active my entire pregnancy was priceless. What surprised me was how it stuck with me postpartum. Even when I ended up with a baby that always needed to be held! Sarah Schultz