How to Manage Asthma During Pregnancy

For every expectant mum to be, pregnancy is a delicate period that needs one to properly take care of themselves.

During this period, the mother-to-be is at high risk of developing complications or contracting illnesses, hence the need to properly monitor themselves.

Pregnant women too, are at risk of developing asthma, which can pose serious health risks for them and the baby.

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the airways (tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs).

Asthma causes the lining of the airways to swell, mucus accumulates, and surrounding muscles tighten, and this reduces air flow to the lungs. 

It is classified into four general categories, from least to most severe. While pregnancy can cause asthma to worsen, improve or remain unchanged, research suggests that asthma severity during pregnancy is related to asthma severity before pregnancy.

Effect on Pregnancy

If you’re effectively treating your asthma and it’s well-controlled during pregnancy, there’s little or no risk of asthma-related complications. However, severe or poorly controlled asthma during pregnancy might increase the risk of various problems, including:

  • A pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, often the kidneys (preeclampsia)
  • Restricted fetal growth
  • Premature birth
  • The need for a C-section

Is It Safe to Take Asthma Medication During Pregnancy?

Any medication you take during pregnancy can potentially have risks. If you need medication to control your asthma symptoms during pregnancy, it is best to first consult your doctor who will prescribe the safest medication at the most appropriate dosage. 

It is safe for you to use an asthma inhaler during pregnancy to keep your asthma under control. Although most women with asthma have perfectly healthy babies, having uncontrolled asthma attacks can prevent your baby from getting enough oxygen.

Will I Be Able to Breast-Feed My Baby?

Breast-feeding is encouraged for women who have asthma — even if you take medication.

Will My Baby Have Asthma?

A number of factors are thought to increase a person’s chances of developing asthma, including having a parent or sibling who has asthma and having a mother who smoked while pregnant. Hence it is important to raise any questions you have regarding your baby’s health with their doctor.

There is no cure for asthma. However, with early diagnosis, right treatment and strict adherence to doctor’s instructions, the symptoms can be well controlled.

Advocacy groups can give support to both patients and their families. Locally the Kenya association of Prevention of TB and lung diseases (KAPTLD) has an asthma advocacy programme which can always walk with you through the journey and help you cope with the disease.

Disclaimers:

#Please note that development differs from one child to another.

#Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: mayoclinic, nationalasthma, webmd

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