Myths and Truths about Asthma and Pregnancy
Women with asthma who become pregnant may worry about how pregnancy will affect their asthma…
“Will asthma medicines harm my developing baby?”
“Will my expanding belly make it much more difficult to breathe?”
“Will my asthma get worse during my pregnancy?”
The Lung Association is here to reassure you that most women with asthma can have a normal pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. The key is working closely with your medical provider to monitor your asthma symptoms and make changes to your asthma treatment plan as needed.
The Lung Association is committed to providing people with asthma tools and resources to successfully manage their chronic lung disease. Even during a special time like pregnancy, we're here to help women stay healthy, worry less about their asthma, and focus more on their new baby. Here are a few myths you may have heard about managing asthma during pregnancy and the truths behind them.
Myth: My asthma will get worse during pregnancy.
Your asthma symptoms can improve, stay the same or get worse during pregnancy. According to the article on Severe Acute Asthma in Pregnancy by Nicola Hanania, M.D., M.S., associate professor of medicine and director of the American Lung Association Airways Clinical Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, approximately 20 percent of women will experience an improvement in their asthma, while approximately another 20 percent will experience their asthma worsen, and approximately 40 percent will see no change in their asthma.
Myth: I will need to stop taking my medication or change my medication because I am pregnant.
Let your healthcare provider know about all of the medications you take. Almost all asthma medicines used prior to pregnancy are safe during pregnancy. Your doctor will let you know if you should discontinue any asthma medicines.
Myth: My baby will have health issues because of my asthma.
As long as your asthma is under control, you can prevent asthma flare-ups while you are pregnant. Frequent asthma flare-ups may put the baby at a higher risk for premature birth, low birth weight and poor growth. Keeping your asthma under control through following your treatment plan and avoiding triggers is the best preventive strategy.
Truth: I may have to see my asthma provider more often.
Yes. You will likely need to see your asthma healthcare provider more often while you are pregnant. Dr. Hanania asks to see his patients every two months to monitor their asthma while they are pregnant.
Reflections from a New Mom with Asthma
Jameka P., a new mom to a beautiful 3-month-old baby girl, has lived with asthma and allergies all her life. Once she found out the exciting news of expecting her first child, she almost immediately started to worry if her asthma could affect her pregnancy. After having a successful delivery, she has these tips to share with expecting moms:
- It is important to know your triggers, so you can avoid them during your pregnancy.
- In addition to knowing your triggers, you should have an asthma action plan and know what do if you become exposed to one of your triggers.
- Be aware of your body and know your symptoms! Your asthma action plan should include the symptoms you experience that indicate worsening asthma, in addition to which symptoms are a sign to get immediate medical attention. You may have new symptoms or signals during pregnancy that you have not had in the past.
- It is important to know the difference between having shortness of breath due to being pregnant versus having shortness of breath due to your asthma.
- In addition to informing the physician who is treating your asthma about your pregnancy, you should also inform your healthcare providers/nurses involved in your pregnancy. Continue to stay in contact with them and bring your asthma up in conversation at each visit. Ask your healthcare providers any questions you may have regarding managing your asthma and having a successful pregnancy and delivery.
The American Lung Association has resources to help adults manage their asthma. If you or a loved one is pregnant and has asthma check out these resources to learn more about managing asthma while pregnant.
Blog last updated: February 27, 2020