Asthma During Pregnancy – Know The Facts And The Things That You Can Do
Pregnancy is one of the most exciting phases in a woman’s life. Physical changes may be accompanied by changes in your mood or emotions. You may not know exactly what to expect every single day. You may feel uneasy, tired, or even cranky today and hyper and happy the next day. With all these changes, the very last thing that you would want to think about and experience is an asthma attack.
Asthma is a known comorbidity during pregnancy and its prevalence is continuously increasing. Exacerbations are major problems, occurring in up to 45%. Nearly half of all pregnant women with asthma ask for medical help. This may result in poor outcomes for moms and their newborns. There is a risk for preterm delivery and low birth weight.
If you have asthma and now expecting a baby, you have to make sure that you’ll be able to manage your symptoms effectively. Know everything about your condition. If it is under control, then your pregnancy will be just like anyone else’s.
Can Pregnancy Affect Your Asthma?
Hormonal changes come along with pregnancy, and some can greatly affect your lungs. There are women who find that their condition improves during pregnancy, while some don’t notice any change. Actually, it’s a case to case basis.
However, if your asthma is severe, you may feel that your symptoms will be much harder to control. Flare-ups are common starting 29 weeks onwards.
Can Asthma Affect Your Baby?
Severe asthma, if not controlled, can cause problems. One common issue is worsening of morning sickness. Blood pressure may also increase.
There’s a risk for vaginal bleeding and premature delivery.
Your baby needs a good supply of oxygen from your blood to stay healthy. If your symptoms will not be controlled properly, your blood may lack oxygen to support your baby’s development. This usually leads to a low birth weight.
Are Asthma Medications Safe for You and Your Baby?
Experts say that inhaled corticosteroids and fast-acting inhalers are safe for expectant mothers. These go straight into your lungs, hence less is being absorbed into the bloodstream where it can reach your baby.
Most doctors do not recommend the use of oral pills and liquids unless other medications do not work. In this case, your physician must give you a drug that has proven to cause less risk to your baby. Never take new drugs whose long-term effects are not yet well established.
Although asthma medicines rarely cause birth defects, your doctor may still try to not give you one during your first trimester.
Will My Baby Get Asthma?
Most women with asthma give birth to healthy babies, especially if their condition is not so severe and were safely managed with medications.
Things You Can Do to Control Your Asthma
To ensure your safety, you must:
1. Know Your Triggers
You must be familiar with your asthma triggers for you to avoid them. These may vary from one person to another, but they usually include cigarette smoke, cold and flu viruses, and allergens such as dust mites, pollen, and molds.
If you are smoking, stop.
If you have symptoms of heartburn or reflux, eat small frequent meals and do not lay down after eating.
2. Follow Your Doctor’s Order Religiously
Take your medications as prescribed and never stop without making a consultation. A slight or temporary relief of symptoms does not guarantee your safety.
3. Do Mild Exercises
Staying and eating healthy while maintaining an active lifestyle can help manage asthma. Consult your doctor about the exercises that are safe for you and your baby.
4. Look for Warning Signs
If you think your medications are no longer working because you are having difficulty breathing or baby hasn’t moved like the usual, go to your doctor immediately.
Can Your Asthma Affect Lactation or Breastfeeding?
Asthma control after giving birth is very important for the same reasons as it is for healthy moms. There are limited researches about the safety of asthma medications when breastfeeding.
Systemic absorption of inhaled medications are very minimal, hence will little or no harm to babies. Experts say that short-acting beta-agonist drugs can still be used at usual doses. Studies show that even maintenance doses of inhaled steroids are unlikely to be transferred to infants.
Montelukast, which is also a popular drug used to treat asthma, has been detected in excreted milk during animal studies. Therefore, it is safe to avoid this oral medication.
Prednisolone is considered to be safe since the amount excreted in breastmilk is just low. However, moms are still advised to withhold feedings for at least 4 hours after every dose to minimize infant exposure.
Moms with asthma are encouraged to continue their treatment even while breastfeeding, but because of limited pieces of evidence, there is often a lack of confidence amongst doctors when choosing a single drug. Control of asthma attack should still be the top priority.