Asthma in pregnancy: How does it affect me and my baby?

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Asthma in pregnancy: How does it affect me and my baby?

Question

How does pregnancy affect asthma?

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Answer

The effects of pregnancy on asthma aren't predictable. Your asthma may be unaffected, worse or improved in pregnancy. Sometimes asthma gets worse in the third trimester or during labor and delivery. Women with moderate to severe asthma are at increased risk of an asthma attack during pregnancy and delivery. It's important to maintain good control of your asthma in pregnancy to minimize problems.

Poorly controlled asthma poses a health threat to both the mother and the fetus. Severe asthma attacks cause a decrease in the amount of oxygen in the mother's blood. This leads to decreased oxygen supply to the fetus, which can result in lower fetal weight gain. Because of this concern, a pregnant woman is more likely to receive treatment with oxygen during an acute asthma attack. Your doctor may also advise lung function tests and arterial blood gas studies during an acute attack.

Many women feel uneasy about taking medications during pregnancy. But if you have asthma, it's important to control the signs and symptoms. If you become pregnant, don't stop taking your asthma medications. Some tips for managing asthma in pregnancy include:

  • Consult with your doctor about the best way to manage your signs and symptoms and which medications are appropriate in pregnancy.
  • Take asthma medications only as directed by your doctor.
  • Notify your doctor if your asthma gets worse despite treatment.
  • Avoid asthma triggers, including cigarette smoke and allergens such as dust mites and pet dander.
  • Get a flu shot if you'll be more than three months pregnant during flu season. In North America, the flu season lasts from October to March.

Also, asthma shouldn't interfere with your ability to do Lamaze breathing techniques.

Last Updated: 10/11/2005
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