Asthma is a breathing disorder characterized by recurrent airway obstruction that affects 19 million adult Americans, over half of them female. Asthma complicates pregnancy in only about 1% of cases. About 1 woman in 100 has asthma first develop during pregnancy, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. When asthmatics become pregnant, about 25% find that their symptoms get worse, 25% report that they improve and 50% report no change.
If you find during your first pregnancy that your asthma symptoms get worse, you're likely to react the same way during any future pregnancies. The good news: most asthma medications don't have adverse effects on a developing fetus, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. So, they are almost always continued during pregnancy.
Review your medications with your doctor, nurse practitioner or midwife as soon as you find out you are pregnant. Women with asthma usually can expect a normal pregnancy and delivery.
To help control your asthma while you're pregnant, try these tactics:
- Identify and avoid your asthma triggers, which may include cigarette smoke, dust, mold, mildew, fragrances, certain foods or some medications.
- Allergy-proof your home by removing dust-collecting drapes and carpets, where possible. Ban smoking from inside your house. Take other measures advised by your allergist, such as getting rid of feather pillows or quilts; installing a dehumidifier to decrease dampness and mold, if necessary; or having pets that you are allergic to stay somewhere else.
- If pollen is a problem, stay inside during the early morning, when counts are highest. Use an air conditioner to filter the air you breathe during high pollen months.
Work with your doctor to devise an effective asthma-control plan and to find the best medications for your condition.