Pregnant women with asthma still need to take their asthma medication. The medication won't harm the developing baby. Uncontrolled asthma poses a much greater risk than asthma medication to the expectant mother and her baby.
During pregnancy, some mothers-to-be may feel uneasy about taking medications. However, it is important to the health of both mother and baby that the mother’s asthma is well managed.
Your baby will do best if you are breathing well and easily. There may be risks to the baby if your asthma is poorly controlled. Work with your doctor to create a written asthma action plan and have it reviewed at regular times during your pregnancy.
Your asthma may change
Pregnancy can mean a change in a woman’s asthma. For some women, their asthma worsens and for others it improves, and for others there is no change at all.
As the baby grows and the womb enlarges, some women feel breathless, particularly with physical activity. This is part of the normal changes that occur during pregnancy. If you are concerned, speak to your doctor.
Medications are safe
Asthma medications are extremely safe and appropriate for use during pregnancy. Most asthma medications are inhaled, which delivers medication directly to the airways where it is needed, so a small dose can often be enough. Asthma medication is not dependent on circulation through the bloodstream and, to some extent, bypasses the baby.
Labour won’t be affected
Asthma attacks during labour are rare. However, you should make sure your asthma medication is always accessible, including when you are in hospital. If you have asthma symptoms during labour, take your reliever medication as usual.
Severe or unstable asthma
Uncontrolled asthma has been linked with premature births and low-weight babies. If your asthma is severe or unstable, your asthma action plan should include a plan for labour that takes anaesthetic options into account. This action plan needs the input of both your obstetrician and your asthma specialist.
You can improve and better manage your asthma if you don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking also has many damaging effects on your developing baby, including:
- Risk of a premature birth
- Reduced birth weight, which can bring about other complications
- Risk of fetal death, stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Risk of asthma and respiratory infections.
Most asthma medications are safe to take during breastfeeding. If you are concerned, speak with your doctor.
Where to get help
- Your doctor
- The Asthma Foundation of Victoria Tel. 1800 645 130 or (03) 9326 7088
Things to remember
- Continue to take your asthma medications as prescribed when you are pregnant. Poorly controlled asthma is more of a risk to your baby.
- Discuss any concerns with your doctor and work together to develop an asthma action plan.
- Feeling breathless in late pregnancy is common, even in pregnant women who don’t have asthma.
You might also be interested in:
- Asthma-friendly home.
- Asthma and breastfeeding.
- Asthma and smoking.
- Asthma Action Plan.
- Asthma children and smoking.
- Asthma management.
Want to know more?
Go to More information for support groups, related links and references.
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Fact sheet currently being reviewed.
Last reviewed: July 2011
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