What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition. Asthma is responsible for the inflammation, constriction of the chest in asthmatic patients. These feelings are often accompanied by wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing. Asthmatic symptoms are often triggered by allergens (pollens, mold, animals, dust mites and other environmental factors) as well as other stress factors, such as exercise (especially if in greater amounts than the woman is used to), illness and infection. It is estimated that asthma affects eight percent of women during their childbearing years, but fewer than ten percent of asthmatic women suffer symptoms during the actual labor and delivery.
How will pregnancy affect my asthma?
Pregnancy has a large degree of affects on asthmatic women; in some women, asthmatic symptoms worsen, while in others, they notice no difference, or even an improvement in symptoms. It is not uncommon for asthma to worsen during the third trimester and this is thought to be due to the compression of the lungs due to the uterus’s expanding size.
How will asthma affect my pregnancy?
Generally speaking, if the mother requires medications to control her asthma, then they should be continued throughout pregnancy, or alternative medications that are safe for the baby should be considered. If the mother experiences severe asthmatic episodes during pregnancy, this may reduce her oxygen levels, which in turn, can affect the oxygen flow to growing baby.
If a woman suffers from asthmatic attacks during pregnancy, she may be more likely to receive oxygen should she seek care at a doctor’s office, or the hospital. She may be more closely monitored for anemia, as well as conducting tests on pulmonary function and arterial blood gasses. If a woman is asthmatic, she may be encouraged to get her flu shot, as the symptoms associated with the flu can worsen and intensify asthmatic symptoms and increase the frequency of attacks.
If asthma is not controlled well during pregnancy, the woman may suffer from high blood pressure, and is at a greater risk for pre-eclampsia (toxemia) and a complicated labor and delivery. Her baby is more likely to be born prematurely at a low birth weight and may have a higher risk for premature death. It is critical that if a woman is asthmatic, that her caregiver be aware, and that she report symptoms and attacks immediately. The sooner symptoms are reported, the sooner the woman’s caregiver can take action to help reduce the impact her asthma may have on her unborn baby.
Will asthma affect breastfeeding?
Asthma generally has no impact on a woman’s ability to breastfeed her baby.
Johnson, Robert V. Mayo Clinic Complete Book of Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year. New York: W. Morrow and, 1994. Print.
“Asthma and Pregnancy | ACAAI.” ACAAI.org Homepage. Web. 12 Nov. 2010.
“Pregnancy and Asthma: Treatment, Managing Symptoms, and More.” WebMD – Better Information. Better Health. Web. 12 Nov. 2010.