What Is Safe Asthma During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Disclaimer: This page houses important information and resources pertaining to asthma during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, including links to our evidence-based Fact Sheets. However, the resources here should not replace the care and advice of a medical professional.
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases among people of reproductive age. It is a lung disease that causes episodes of wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. While asthma is a chronic condition that cannot be cured, it can be managed and good asthma control is critically important for a healthy pregnancy. Maternal asthma, especially poorly controlled asthma, is associated with higher rates of pregnancy complications, such as spontaneous abortions, preeclampsia , placental problems, preterm birth, and low birth weight.
If youre pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, its more important than ever to keep your asthma controlled. Avoiding triggers and taking your asthma medications as prescribed can all help ensure a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby-to-be.
Asthma management during pregnancy should continue to include the treatments that best control your asthma symptoms. Most asthma medications have not been shown to have harmful effects on a developing baby however, its important to speak with your healthcare provider about how to best manage your asthma during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
Managing Your Asthma During Pregnancy
If you have asthma, you should have a self-management plan, which means that you can adjust your treatment to meet your needs. For example, if you have a cough or cold, your asthma may get worse, in which case you can increase your preventer , or start them if you dont take them regularly. This is completely safe during pregnancy.
While you can continue to exercise and work normally, there are some steps you can take to try to prevent your asthma from getting worse during your pregnancy:
- avoid allergic triggers such as pet fur
- control hay fever with antihistamines talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which antihistamines are safe to take in pregnancy
- avoid your usual hay fever triggers
Signs that your asthma may be getting worse include:
- a cough that is worse at night or in the early morning, or when you exercise
- tightness in your chest
You are also more likely to suffer from acid reflux while youre pregnant. This condition occurs when stomach acid leaks back up into your oesophagus , and tends to make asthma worse. If you have these symptoms speak to your doctor or asthma specialist, who will advise you on the best treatment.
Are Allergy Shots Safe During Pregnancy
If you are already receiving allergy shots , you can usually continue if you are not having reactions.
As an extra precaution, though, your allergist may cut the dosage of the allergy extract to reduce the chance of a severe allergic reaction, or at a minimum keep the dose the same. But the dose should not be increased during pregnancy since that increases the chance of a reaction.
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Breastfeeding When You’re Sick
Youre likely to feel tired, so listen to your body and get some rest when you can. Sleep when your baby sleeps and ask for help at home if you need it.
Breastfeeding your baby when you’re sick is generally safe. In rare cases, you may need to stop breastfeeding if you have a serious illness. Talk to your GP if you are worried.
For most illnesses, continuing to breastfeed will pass on immunity cells to your baby. This may help them to fight this specific infection. If your baby becomes ill, your breast milk will help them to recover more quickly.
Practising good hygiene is very important to stop any infection spreading to others. With coughs and colds, cough into a tissue, bin it, and then wash your hands.
Cromolyns And Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists
Inhaled cromolyns are probably safe to use in pregnancy.10 No well-designed studies have assessed the sole use of leukotriene receptor antagonists, such as montelukast, during pregnancy. Studies have shown an increase in adverse events with use, but these studies did not exclusively test montelukast during pregnancy.12 Montelukast should be used in pregnancy only if clearly indicated and only after considering more effective and safer treatment, especially given its prescribing restrictions in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.10
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How Should I Prepare Before Pregnancy If I Have Asthma
Many healthcare providers recommend a preconception appointment before you start trying to get pregnant. This appointment is a chance to talk to your provider about any medical conditions you might have and your general health. Many people use this appointment to make a game plan for how they will want to treat their medical conditions like asthma during pregnancy. Its a chance to prepare with your provider for the upcoming pregnancy. Remember, you shouldnt stop taking any of your medications during pregnancy without first talking to your healthcare provider.
How Does Asthma Affect Pregnancy
Asthma affects 4 to 8 out of 100 pregnant women . If you keep your asthma under control, it probably wont cause any problems during your pregnancy.
If you dont control your asthma, you may be at risk for a serious health problem called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition that can happen after the 20th week of pregnancy or right after pregnancy. Its when a pregnant woman has high blood pressure and signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working properly. Some of these signs include having protein in the urine, changes in vision and severe headache.
If you dont control your asthma, your baby may not get enough oxygen. He may be at higher risk for health problems like:
Babies who are born too small and too soon are more likely to have newborn health problems. They can have trouble breathing and lasting disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities and cerebral palsy.
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Can I Take Allergy Shots And The Flu Shot While Pregnant
Tell your allergist if youâre pregnant. You shouldnât start allergy shots if youâre pregnant. But if youâre already getting them, your doctor will probably continue them and monitor you for any problems.
The flu vaccine is recommended for pregnant women and people with asthma because theyâre among groups at high risk for severe flu complications, including death. Pregnant women should only get the flu shot .
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Asthma is a lung disease that causes your airways to tighten up, making it hard for you to breathe. Theres no cure for asthma. Even if you have asthma and feel healthy, asthma flares can happen at any time.
Most people with asthma can keep the disease under control and avoid serious health problems. If youre pregnant, its really important to work with your health care provider to manage your asthma and get medical care, if needed.
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Tips For Staying Well With Your Asthma Through Your Pregnancy
Heres how you can lower your risk of asthma symptoms and asthma attacks:
- Keep taking your asthma medicines as prescribed. Theyre safe to take when youre pregnant. In fact, your baby is more at risk if you stop taking your medicines and have symptoms and asthma attacks.
- Have an asthma review. Your GP can check your asthma medicines, your inhaler technique and update your . Book further appointments if you notice symptoms during your pregnancy.
- Tell your midwife you have asthma. Make sure asthmas in your notes and included in your birth plan. Looking after your asthma needs to be part of your overall antenatal care plan.
- Stop smoking. Smoking while youre pregnant means your babys more likely to have breathing problems, including asthma. It also puts you more at risk of both miscarriage and premature labour. And avoid breathing in secondhand smoke too. Theres lots of support to help you give up.
- Have the flu jab. Pregnant women, and people with asthma, are more at risk of complications from flu, like chest infections or pneumonia. The flu jab is safe in pregnancy. It will also help protect your baby from flu in their first few months.
What Should I Do To Avoid Asthma Attacks During Pregnancy
Keep Your Asthma Well-Controlled
Avoiding asthma triggers is always important, but is even more important during pregnancy. Pregnant women with asthma should increase avoidance measures to gain greatest comfort with the least medicine.
- Stay away from people who are sick with respiratory infections.
- Reduce your exposure to allergens like dust mites, animal dander, pollen, mold, and cockroaches
Stop Smoking Cigarettes/Tobacco
Giving up cigarette smoking is important for any pregnant woman. Smoking may worsen asthma and harms the health of the growing fetus as well.
Regular exercise is important to health. Talk to your doctor for the best advice about exercising during pregnancy. Swimming is a great exercise for people with asthma. Using quick-relief medicine 10 to 15 minutes before exercise may help you tolerate recommended exercise.
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How Will My Asthma Affect My Labour
Taking asthma medicines during pregnancy does not delay or lengthen delivery time. Having well-controlled asthma reduces the risk of premature delivery. Talk to your doctor before your labour about how your asthma may affect the delivery, and ask them to advise other medical staff of your special needs.
Pain relieving drugs are available for use by women with asthma during labour and your options for pain management can be discussed with your doctor.
Choose The Right Medication
A doctor should not prescribe you a medication to take while breastfeeding unless it will really help your condition.
Not treating an illness can be more harmful than taking some medications. There may be more than one type of medication that can treat a condition. Your doctor or pharmacist will choose the safest drug for you.
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Medications And Breast Milk
When you take a medication, the drug begins breaking down, or metabolizing, as soon as you swallow it. As its breaking down, the drug transfers into your blood. Once in your blood, a small percentage of the medicine can pass to your breast milk.
How soon you take a medication before nursing or pumping can impact how much of the medication may be present in the breast milk your baby consumes. Ibuprofen generally reaches its peak level at about one to two hours after being taken orally. Ibuprofen shouldnt be taken more than every 6 hours.
If youre worried about passing medicine to your baby, try to time your dose after breastfeeding so more time passes before your childs next feeding. You can also feed your baby breastmilk that youve expressed before taking your medication, if available, or formula.
Can I Use My Inhaler During Pregnancy
If you donât control your asthma properly during pregnancy, youâre much more likely to harm yourself and your baby than if you use the right drugs to control your asthma.
Itâs OK to use an inhaler. Short-acting medications in your daily use inhaler, like albuterol, levalbuterol, pirbuterol, and ipratropium, are all safe for mother and baby. Also, treating asthma lowers your risk of attacks and helps make your lungs work better.
The best thing to do is to talk to your doctor, who will look at how severe your asthma is and what treatment is right for you while you’re pregnant.
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Can I Take My Asthma Medicines While I Am Pregnant
According to the National Asthma Council, it is safe to continue taking your asthma medications while you are pregnant. Stopping your medications could put your baby at risk. Nearly a third of women in an Australian study who had a severe flare-up during pregnancy had not been taking their prescribed preventer before the flare-up.
Most asthma medicines have been shown to be extremely safe for both you and your developing baby, and will ensure that your asthma symptoms are not left untreated for the duration of your pregnancy. Untreated symptoms may be harmful for the baby and for you. If you have any concerns about your asthma medicines in pregnancy talk to your doctor.
Your asthma management plan should be reviewed regularly throughout pregnancy.
Uncontrolled asthma is far more of a danger to your pregnancy than any of your prescribed asthma medicines.
Do not stop taking either your preventer or reliever asthma medicines without consulting your doctor first.
Around one-third of pregnant women with asthma actually experience an improvement in their asthma symptoms, possibly due to increased levels of cortisone in the body during pregnancy.
Always check with your doctor before starting or stopping taking any types of drugs or medicines during pregnancy.
Remove All Allergens From Your Environment
This is a very crucial step. You must find what caused your allergies in the first place and then immediately remove it.
If youre allergic to dust and pollen, you can wear a mask when going outside and avoid opening windows all day. If your trigger is a food product, give your meal away and avoid eating them again. Its also a good idea to read the label on the back before eating or drinking something.
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How Is Asthma Diagnosed
Asthma can be hard to diagnose. To find out if you have asthma, your health care provider takes your health history, does a physical exam and listens to your breathing.
You also may get a lung function test called spirometry. This is a test that checks how well your lungs work. During the test, you take a deep breath and exhale into a machine called a spirometer. This machine measures the amount of air you breathe in and out. It also measures how fast you can breathe. When youre pregnant, normal changes in your body can make you short of breath. This test can help your provider know if shortness of breath is a common complication of pregnancy or if its caused by asthma.
Summary Of Use During Lactation
Although no published data exist on the use of albuterol by mouth or inhaler during lactation, data from the related drug, terbutaline, indicate that very little is expected to be excreted into breastmilk. The authors of several reviews and an expert panel agree that use of inhaled bronchodilators is acceptable during breastfeeding because of the low bioavailability and maternal serum levels after use.
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How Will Pregnancy Affect My Asthma
Asthma often changes during pregnancy. The effect of pregnancy on women who have asthma is unpredictable. Around 1 in 3 pregnant women will see an improvement, 1 in 3 will see no change and 1 in 3 will experience a worsening of their symptoms.
Pregnancy is not likely to bring on asthma if you didnt previously have it. Many women experience breathlessness during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, not asthma. Many women also experience breathlessness during the last trimester of their pregnancy due to the enlarging uterus restricting movement of their diaphragm. This is normal in many pregnant women, even those who do not have asthma.
The best way to ensure a healthy pregnancy is to keep your asthma well-controlled. As soon as you find out youre pregnant, you should see your doctor for advice on how to manage your asthma. Some women with severe asthma may develop high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. There is an increased risk of having a low-birth weight baby or a pre-term delivery in women with uncontrolled asthma.
Asthma Treatments And Pregnancy
Don’t stop taking your asthma medicine talk to a GP, asthma nurse or specialist first.
Most asthma medicines are safe to use in pregnancy and, if your asthma is well controlled, there’s little to no risk for you or your baby.
You should continue to take your prescribed asthma treatments throughout pregnancy. Unless your asthma gets worse, your treatment can remain exactly the same as before.
Your symptoms may get worse if you stop taking your medicine. This can pose a risk for your own health and increase the risk of your baby having a low birthweight.
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What Should I Do To Control My Asthma When I Am Pregnant
During your pregnancy, you should continue to follow your asthma control plan. You shouldnt stop treating your asthma and need to talk to your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medications.
Some ways to keep your asthma in control during your pregnancy include avoiding your triggers and irritants. Triggers and irritants to avoid include:
What Are The Symptoms Of Causes Of Diarrhea
Other symptoms come with diarrhea, such as abdominal cramps, bloating, dizziness, and vomiting. Some cases of diarrhea are mild, only last a day, and wont have many symptoms. However, diarrhea accompanied by other symptoms is a sign of an ailment.
Food can also cause diarrhea. People who are lactose intolerant have difficulty digesting lactose, which causes diarrhea. Sugary products are also linked to causing diarrhea. Medicines, surgeries, and digestive disorders can also give a person diarrhea.
You can prevent diarrhea by regularly washing your hands and keeping your surroundings clear. You should also watch out for what you eat, especially if youre dining somewhere unfamiliar.
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