Health Topics

Asthma and Pregnancy

Asthma and Pregnancy

Research has shown that well-controlled asthma during pregnancy does not increase the risk of complications to either the mother or the infant. The following are some common questions and answers addressing concerns of pregnant asthmatics.

I use an inhaler to control my asthma. Will this harm my baby?

This is one of the most common concerns. The best 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. Most inhaled medications are acceptable to use 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 medicines to control your asthma. Most doctors believe that because the amount of medicine you get from a puff of inhaler is small and goes straight to your lungs, it is not likely to harm your baby.

Oral medications (pills and liquids) are usually avoided unless asthma cannot be controlled without them. Your doctor will determine this if and when necessary. 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.

Can I take allergy shots and flu shots during my pregnancy? Are they safe?

You should tell your allergist if you are pregnant. Allergy shots are usually not started if a woman is pregnant. However, if you are already receiving allergy shots, your doctor will probably continue them and monitor the dose to decrease the risk of a reaction. If you have moderate to severe asthma, a flu shot is generally a good idea. Some experts recommend that the flu shot be given during the second and third trimesters only. Again, your doctor is the best person to decide how severe your asthma is and if you should receive a flu shot.

Will my pregnancy make my asthma worse?

There is no clear answer to this question. For some women, asthma gets worse. For some it stays the same, and for some it improves. If your asthma is severe, chances are it may become a little worse during your pregnancy. On the other hand, if you have had a previous pregnancy and your asthma did not get worse, chances are that it will not get worse during this pregnancy.

Asthma is almost never a reason to not get pregnant. However, if you have severe asthma, it is worth talking to your doctor before you get pregnant. Again, it is important to treat your asthma during pregnancy, and you should never start or stop taking a medicine without consulting your doctor first.

What should I do to control my asthma when I am pregnant?

During pregnancy, one of the best ways to control your asthma is to avoid things that trigger your asthma attacks. For instance, if allergies trigger your asthma, you can prevent asthma attacks by avoiding the things you're allergic to. So if you are allergic to pets, do not allow them in your house. If you are allergic to dust mites:

  • use air filters
  • filters on your vacuum cleaner
  • coverings for your beds and pillows

These are, essentially, the same things that you would otherwise do to prevent an asthma attack; however, when you are pregnant, it is important to be even more thorough and careful.

In addition, following your Asthma Action Care Plan and maintaining a daily asthma diary will make it less likely that you will have serious problems. Communication with your doctor and health care providers is essential.