According to research, women are more likely to skip their asthma treatment during pregnancy. But controlling asthma is essential to reducing risks for mom and baby, says Michelle Rivas.
Starting a family is one of the biggest decisions many of us will ever make. Most women begin the process by creating a list of baby names, taking prenatal vitamins, and eating a healthier diet. Having asthma may add another layer to these preparations. Both you and the baby must stay healthy throughout your pregnancy!
There's also a risk that parents with asthma will pass the condition on to their children. Kids have a roughly 25% chance of being diagnosed with asthma if one parent has the disease. The possibility can spike to 50% if both parents have asthma.
This is sobering information, as I hope to have children someday. I've also worried about whether my kids will have asthma.
There's a lot we can't control when we have children – especially when you have a respiratory condition. However, there are some things that we can do to increase our odds of having a healthy pregnancy. Here are a few tips I plan to follow when trying to conceive.
1. Review asthma medications with your doctor
It's not just both partners who must discuss the decision to conceive. You need to loop in your doctor, too.
You never know exactly when you'll get pregnant. If you're trying to conceive (or plan to soon), please check ASAP whether your current medications are safe to take during pregnancy.
Fortunately, most asthma medications are safe to use when you're expecting. Still, it's best to review your medications with your doctor, so always, always check. Your doctor may recommend adjusting your Asthma Action Plan or adapting your treatment.
2. Get your asthma under control
It's more important than ever to avoid potential asthma triggers and follow your asthma treatment plan.
Up to 45% of women with asthma need medical help for an asthma exacerbation during pregnancy.
When asthma isn't well-managed, it can decrease oxygen flow to your baby. This can affect your child's growth and lead to low birth weight or other complications.
Some studies found women are more likely to stop taking their medications during pregnancy. However, doing so can be risky for your baby. Continue taking your medication exactly as your doctor prescribes.
3. Avoid cigarettes
Be sure you and your partner quit smoking before trying to conceive. Tobacco puts an unborn baby's health at risk.
Smoking and second-hand smoke during pregnancy can harm a baby's lung development. Babies exposed to smoke in the womb are at greater risk of health concerns after birth.
- Ear infections
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Breathing problems
Not smoking during pregnancy can also reduce the risk of your child developing asthma.
4. Manage heartburn and GERD during pregnancy
It's critical to have heartburn and GERD well-managed before you try to conceive.
People with asthma are more likely to have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and GERD can make asthma symptoms worse.
Research suggests that taking acid-blocking drugs during pregnancy can increase an unborn child's asthma risk. However, the results aren't conclusive, so more research must be done.
In the meantime, talk to your doctor. Your healthcare provider can offer tips to help you manage GERD. They can also check the risks and benefits of taking heartburn medications during pregnancy.
5. Exercise in moderation
Many people with asthma can exercise. As long as you have your doctor's approval, exercise during pregnancy is safe and healthy for moms and their babies.
Staying active during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and weight gain. Weight gain may not seem like a huge problem, but carrying too much weight can worsen asthma symptoms.
Exercises like swimming and walking are safe for most women during pregnancy. They may be less likely to trigger asthma symptoms.
If you are expecting a child, congratulations!! Don't forget to attend your scheduled prenatal appointments.
And please discuss any questions or concerns about asthma or pregnancy with your doctor. You've got this!
The information presented is solely for educational purposes, not as specific advice for managing asthma symptoms or fertility health. Please consult a professional who can apply best practices and appropriate resources to your situation.
NPS-ALL-NP-00623 AUGUST 2022