The respiratory system is made up of the organs involved in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. The system includes:
Voice box (larynx)
Lungs, which contain:
Smaller airways (bronchioles)
Tiny airways (alveoli)
The lungs are a pair of cone-shaped organs made up of spongy, pinkish-gray tissue. They take up most of the space in the chest (thorax). The lungs are surrounded by a membrane called the pleura. The lungs are divided into sections called lobes.
When you breathe, the air:
Enters the body through the nose or the mouth
Travels down the throat through the larynx and trachea
Goes into the lungs through the bronchi:
Then bronchi divide into bronchioles
Bronchioles end in the alveoli
The gas exchange takes place between the alveoli and nearby blood vessels.
Because of pregnancy hormones and the growing fetus, there are many changes in the respiratory system. Some changes include:
Stuffy or runny nose and nosebleeds
The chest increases in size
The diaphragm, the large flat muscle used in breathing, moves upward toward the chest
Increase in the amount of air breathed in and out
Decrease in amount of air the lungs can handle
Increase in oxygen use
Because of these changes, many women feel short of breath or have some trouble breathing during pregnancy. If a woman has a lung condition, such as asthma, before pregnancy, it may be necessary to change treatment to control symptoms and prevent complications.