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What is it that makes a woman’s body able to compensate for that?

About 10 to 15 different hormones cause the actual increase of the blood volume and control the compensation mechanisms that the organs, including those of the cardiovascular system, use to accommodate those changes. The lungs also go through many changes.

The diaphragm actually rises. The diameter of your chest increases outwardly. Despite those adjustments, though, you often feel out of breath and you may feel that you can’t take a deep breath or that you feel a little bit more out of breath. The hormones again have a big role to play in that and cause those changes and the compensating mechanisms as well.

I’ve read that the lungs actually work more efficiently in pregnancy. How is it that they’re able to work more efficiently for that brief period in a woman’s life?

It used to be thought that the actual lung volume or capacity was lower or less efficient during pregnancy. But in reality studies have shown that there’s actually an increase in the volume of the lungs. The efficiency is definitely greater, although a pregnant woman is actually more prone to getting lung infections that stay a little bit longer.