Pregnancy and Asthma

Just because you have asthma doesn't mean that you can't have a healthy pregnancy. But you have to keep your asthma in control. According to the American Lung Association, about a third of pregnant women with asthma will find their asthma symptoms improve during pregnancy, a third will have worse asthma, and a third will have stable disease symptoms.

What if My Asthma Isn't Well Controlled During Pregnancy?

If you do not keep your asthma under control during your pregnancy, you may have less oxygen delivered to your blood. It is very important to keep your asthma under control during your pregnancy, because the developing fetus receives oxygen from the mother's blood. Having good control of asthma also improves the risk for pregnancy complications such as premature birth, low birth weight, and preeclampsia (dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy).

Can I Continue to Take Asthma Medicine During Pregnancy?

Several scientific studies have shown that if you do not control your asthma properly during pregnancy, you are much more likely to harm both yourself and your baby than if you use appropriate drugs to control your asthma.

If you are using an asthma inhaler, studies of its safety during pregnancy have been reassuring. In addition, the risk for asthma attacks decreases and lung function is improved with treatment.

If you take oral medications to control your asthma, you may want to talk to your doctor about a change to your regimen since there is not as much evidence on safety.

If you already receive allergy shots, you can safely continue to do so. However, they should not be initiated during pregnancy.

The most appropriate thing to do is to talk to your doctor, who will look at how severe your asthma is and what treatment is appropriate for you while you're pregnant.

How Can I Reduce Asthma's Impact on my Baby?

Good asthma control is the key to a successful pregnancy. To lessen the impact of your condition on your unborn baby:

  • Have an asthma plan. Work with your asthma doctor to determine the right kind and quantity of asthma medication for you to take.
  • Recognize your asthma triggers. Keep a diary of what triggers the worsening of your asthma and find ways to avoid those triggers.
  • Receive coordinated care. Make sure your asthma doctor and your pregnancy provider coordinate your care.

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Can Pregnancy Make Asthma Worse?

Pregnancy could make your asthma worse. There is no clear answer to this question. For some women, their asthma gets worse, for some it stays the same, and for some it improves. In general, if your asthma is severe, chances are it may become a little worse during your pregnancy. On the other hand, if you were pregnant before and your asthma did not get worse, chances are that it will not get worse during the next pregnancy.

Asthma is almost never a reason to notget pregnant. However, if you have severe asthma, it is worth talking to your doctor before you get pregnant.

If your asthma is related to allergies, reduce your risk for exposure to allergens. This may include avoiding or eliminating exposure to animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches, pollen, and indoor mold.

Can I Take Allergy Shots and the Flu Shot While Pregnant?

You should tell your allergist if you are pregnant. Allergy shots are usually not started if a woman is pregnant. But if you are already taking allergy shots, your doctor will probably continue them and monitor you for any problems. The flu vaccine is recommended for pregnant women and people with asthma because they are among groups at high risk for severe flu complications, including death. Pregnant women should only get the flu shot ( not the nasal flu vaccine).

Can I Take My Asthma Medicine During Labor and Breastfeeding?

In general, the same asthma treatment that is appropriate when you are pregnant is appropriate when you go into labor and when you breastfeed your baby. Talk to your doctor to make sure your asthma medicine is safe to keep taking in these circumstances.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on July 26, 2016

Sources

SOURCES: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: "Asthma, Allergies, and Pregnancy: Tips to Remember." American Lung Association: "Asthma." National Asthma Education and Prevention Program : "Managing Asthma During Pregnancy: Recommendations for Pharmacologic Treatment."

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