Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Pregnancy Effects on Lungs

High-Risk Pregnancy - The Lungs in Pregnancy

What makes up the respiratory system?

The respiratory system is made up of the organs involved in the interchanges of gases, and consists of the following:

What is the function of the lungs?

The lungs take in oxygen, which cells need to live and carry out their normal functions. The lungs also get rid of carbon dioxide, a waste product of the body's cells.

Illustration of the anatomy of the respiratory system, adult
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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, or the thorax (the part of the body between the base of the neck and diaphragm). The lungs are enveloped in a membrane called the pleura.

The right lung has three sections called lobes. The left lung has two lobes. When you breathe, the air:

Does the respiratory system change during pregnancy?

Many changes occur in the respiratory system during pregnancy. Hormones and physical changes due to the growing fetus can affect the upper and lower respiratory tracts. Some of the common changes that occur in the respiratory system with pregnancy include the following:

Because of these changes, many women feel short of breath or have some difficulty breathing as pregnancy progresses. When lung diseases develop or there is a pre-existing condition, such as asthma, the lungs may have difficulty compensating.

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