How to Avoid Asthma Attacks During Pregnancy

There is nothing about asthma that makes pregnancy more or less likely to occur. Asthma does not interfere with conception, nor does it make getting pregnant easier. For the most part, the progress of a pregnancy is not changed by asthma. As long as the mother can breathe deeply enough to provide oxygen for herself, there will be enough oxygen for the baby. Of course, the mother’s asthma must be well controlled to ensure that she won’t get into difficulty with breathing. But, asthma under control, any pregnancy should proceed normally into labor.

Severe asthma not under control has special problems, including shortened pregnancy and birth of babies smaller than average. Severe asthma complicates 1 to 4% of pregnancies and if untreated is associated with increased incidence of preeclampsia (a kidney and high blood pressure disease), diabetes of pregnancy, and retardation of growth of the fetus. Particularly in view of the volatility of some asthmatics, healthy now, wheezing moderately a few minutes later, this all implies that pregnancy in the asthmatic patient demands closer attention than pregnancy in a no asthmatic patient.

Asthma  during  Pregnancy

Controlling asthma will require special attention to elements that trigger the asthmatic process. Avoiding environments that normally are poorly tolerated is a must during pregnancy. If you know that working in a greenhouse sometimes triggers asthma, working there, no matter how pleasureful, must be avoided throughout pregnancy Similarly, exposure to pets known to stir up wheezing, or foods known to be troublesome should be avoided. Medicines known to cause allergy symptoms should not normally be used; they should be carefully avoided during pregnancy.

Smoking should be avoided, not only because of its deleterious effect on asthma, but also because babies born to smoking mothers are more likely than others to have both abnormalities and breathing problems. There is absolutely no reason for any asthmatic to smoke, and less reason to do so during pregnancy.

It is important to inform your obstetrician that you have asthma and equally important to tell your allergist that you are pregnant. Should asthma develop or worsen during pregnancy despite efforts to avoid triggers, you might need a doctor’s help. In that case, medicines can certainly be used safely. None of the medicines described earlier will cause any more problem during pregnancy than it does in the nonpregnant patient. In fact, the damage that can be caused to a pregnancy by uncontrolled asthma is much more dangerous than any of the mild and infrequent side effects of medicines.

The ephedrinelike drugs can be used safely, as can the theophylline family of medicines. Although large doses of steroid drugs cause problems in pregnant experimental animals, steroids are generally safe for use in human pregnancies. But the goal is to manage the asthma so carefully that little medicine of any kind is needed for serious asthma.

There is one cause of breathing difficulty in pregnancy that must be understood and managed: elevation of the diaphragm. Recall that most of the air moved into and out of the lungs is the result of a pistonlike action of the diaphragm. The diaphragm, attached in front to the lower ribs, moves down and up freely, moving the air in and out of the lungs. Diaphragmatic action does most of the work of breathing. In pregnancy, the abdomen gradually fills with the products of pregnancy, the enlarged uterus and baby. Toward the end of pregnancy, as the abdomen gets more and more crowded, there is some increased resistance to the movement of the diaphragm in the limited space provided by the abdomen.

As the motion of the diaphragm is restricted somewhat, breathing is limited, too, and it may require more effort to breath, at least with mild exertion. So for reasons other than bronchospasm, breathing may become a little harder during the last month or two of pregnancy. For this reason, childbirth classes usually offer instruction on how to time breathing with the contractions of labor. Even for the asthma patient, none of this will interfere with an otherwise normal pregnancy.

Filed Under: Health & Personal Care


About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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