8 Things to Know About Asthma and Pregnancy
If you are a woman with asthma and you are thinking of getting pregnant or if you have just learned that you are expecting a baby, try not to worry. As long as you keep working on keeping your asthma under control, there is no reason that having asthma will keep you from having a healthy pregnancy or a normal, healthy baby.
The effect of pregnancy on asthma can vary quite a bit. Studies show that one out of three pregnant women will notice their asthma control slipping during pregnancy. Another one out of three will not notice any difference at all, and the final third of women will actually have their asthma improve while pregnant. It's impossible to predict which way it'll go for you, so be sure to work closely with your asthma specialist.
If your asthma is kept in control, then it shouldn't have negative effects on your body during pregnancy. But, if your asthma is not kept under control, then high blood pressure and a more severe condition called pre-eclampsia could result. Pre-eclampsia is a condition that causes you to retain fluid, while also leaking protein into your urine, and that can lead to a number of health problems.
As long as you can keep your asthma under control, your baby should not have any negative effects. However, if your asthma control is up and down or slips altogether, your blood won't have the right levels of oxygen in it, and that means your baby may not get enough oxygen either. Lack of oxygen can affect fetal growth and development, because fetuses need a consistent supply of oxygen and nutrients in order to grow and develop.
As far as we know, asthma and allergy medicines taken by a pregnant woman are not harmful to her unborn child. And when doctors prescribe medication for a patient, they are always weighing the benefits of the medicine against the risks of taking it.
If you are taking asthma medication, you may wonder if it's safe to breastfeed your baby, since medication can be passed through breast milk. Breastfeeding has many benefits for both you and your baby, both physically and emotionally. Although your asthma medicines could conceivably be passed to your baby through breast milk, there has been no proof that either asthma or allergy medicines are harmful to a nursing infant.
In addition to your obestetrician visits, you will also need to stay in touch with your allergist or pulmonologist while you're pregnant, especially if asthma control starts to slip, so that you can quickly tweak your asthma management plan to get control back. Don't depend on your obstetrician for daily asthma management. But do ask about spirometry or at least a peak flow reading to be done monthly, so that treatment can be stepped up or down as needed.
The best way to keep asthma under control -- whether you're pregnant or not -- is to follow the medication treatment plan your doctor has set up for you. Research does suggest that most inhaled asthma medicines, especially inhaled steroids and albuterol, are safe to take during pregnancy.
Reducing your exposure to your known asthma triggers in your environment is the very best way to keep from having asthma attacks or allergy flare-ups. But total avoidance isn't that easy to do. Still, anything you can do along those lines will result in better asthma control, which could mean you'd need less medicine.