Asthma and Pregnancy: Is Albuterol Safe?

Medically Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on June 06, 2023
3 min read

Just because you have asthma doesn't mean you can't have a healthy pregnancy. But you have to keep your asthma under control. About a third of pregnant women with asthma will find their symptoms improve during pregnancy, a third will have worse asthma, and a third will have stable disease symptoms.

If your asthma isn’t controlled, oxygen levels in your blood could fall. That means your baby, who gets oxygen from your blood, won’t get enough either. Good control of asthma also lowers your risk for pregnancy complications such as premature birth, low birth weight, and preeclampsia (dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy).

If you don’t control your asthma properly during pregnancy, you’re much more likely to harm yourself and your baby than if you use the right drugs to control your asthma.

It’s OK to use an inhaler. Short-acting medications in your daily use inhaler, like albuterol, levalbuterol, pirbuterol, and ipratropium, are all safe for mother and baby. Also, treating asthma lowers your risk of attacks and helps make your lungs work better.

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

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 find the right kind and amount of medication for you to take.
  • Recognize your asthma triggers. Keep a diary of what makes your asthma worse, and find ways to avoid those triggers.
  • Receive coordinated care. Make sure your asthma doctor and your pregnancy provider coordinate your care.

Pregnancy could make your asthma worse. There’s no clear answer to this question. Your asthma could also stay the same or improve. 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 not get pregnant. But if you have severe asthma, it’s worth talking to your doctor before you get pregnant.

If your asthma is related to allergies, stay away from allergens. This may mean avoiding animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches, pollen, and indoor mold.

Tell your allergist if you’re pregnant. You shouldn’t start allergy shots if you’re pregnant. But if you’re already getting them, 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’re among groups at high risk for severe flu complications, including death. Pregnant women should only get the flu shot (notthe nasal flu vaccine).

In general, the same asthma treatment that’s OK when you’re pregnant is OK 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.