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Asthma

Pregnancy and Asthma

During pregnancy you are breathing for you and your baby so asthma control is important. Some women will notice more asthma problems when they are pregnant, but others will feel better. There is no way to know who will have breathing problems or flare-ups during pregnancy.

 

Signs of Asthma Problems

Asthma flare-ups can happen anytime during pregnancy. Most flare-ups are caused by viral infections or women stopping their asthma medicine. Do not stop taking asthma controller medicine when pregnant. This medicine controls your asthma to keep you breathing normally. Asthma medicines are safe and cause little risk to you or your baby.

You should go to the emergency room right away if:

 

How do I know if my asthma is controlled?

Your asthma is controlled if you are able go to school, work, play and sleep with few asthma symptoms. Other signs include the following:

 

Before pregnancy

If you are thinking about getting pregnant, schedule a visit with your provider. He or she will check to see if you are healthy and your asthma is under control. Things to consider:

 

During Pregnancy

Take your asthma medicines regularly during pregnancy. Your provider will use the least amount of medicine to control your asthma. Do not cut back on your medicines during pregnancy or this can lead to asthma flare-ups or problems for you and the baby. During pregnancy:

Stop smoking and avoid second hand smoke.

Review all medicines you are taking including vitamins, herbs and supplements with your provider. Ask your provider to suggest the safest brands of medicines to use during pregnancy. Get needed vaccines such as flu, pneumococcal (pneumonia) or Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis).

Take your asthma medicines regularly and talk to your provider if you are having side effects or problems affording the medicine.

Ask for an asthma action plan from your provider so you will know what to do if your asthma flares-up. If new medicines or the action plan does not seem to help your asthma, call your provider for help.

 

During Delivery

Asthma rarely causes a problem during delivery but always tell the medical staff you have asthma so they can make sure you continue your medicines.

 

After Pregnancy

Your asthma will usually return to your pre-pregnancy state within 3 months.

Do not smoke and avoid second hand smoke.

Review all medicines you are taking including vitamins and herbs with your provider. Ask your provider to suggest the safest brands to use during pregnancy.

Take your asthma controller medicines as directed. Talk to your provider if you are having side effects, or the medicine is not controlling your asthma. Do not take decongestants found in many cold, flu and allergy medicines (examples Sudafed®, Sinutab®, Allegra-D®, Claritin-D®), pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine).

Talk to your provider about alternative medicine. Pregnancy can cause shortness of breath. A good way to see if the shortness of breath is caused by pregnancy or your asthma is check your air flow with a “peak flow meter”. Your air flow will drop if you are having a flare-up of asthma.

Create an asthma action plan to follow during asthma flare-ups. Asthma flare-ups should be treated quickly to prevent drops in oxygen levels which can harm the baby. Asthma flare-ups are treated the same during pregnancy as they are when you are not pregnant. The treatment is safer for you and the baby than not being able to breathe.

Get a vaccine if you are pregnant during flu season.

 

During Breastfeeding

Review all medicines you are taking including vitamins, herbs and supplements with your provider.

Ask your provider to suggest the safest brands to use if you are breast feeding.

Take your asthma controller medicines as directed. See your provider to evaluate your asthma and adjust medicines, as needed.

Do not smoke, and keep your baby away from smoke. Exposure to smoke has been linked to asthma, ear infections, pneumonia and sudden infant death syndrome.

For more information:

Go to the Asthma health topic, where you can:

This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

Last Reviewed: Sep 06, 2011

Cathy   Benninger, RN, MS, APRN, C-AE Cathy Benninger, RN, MS, APRN, C-AE
Clinical Assistant Professor
Director, OSU Asthma Center Educational Program
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University

John G Mastronarde, MD John G Mastronarde, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University