When you’re pregnant, breathing for two is serious business. Your baby-to-be needs a steady supply of oxygen to fuel her growth and development. And if your own oxygen supply is compromised — say because you have untreated asthma — it could present a problem for the health of your pregnancy and baby.
How Common Is Asthma Asthma affects about 4 to 8 percent of pregnant women. Some — about a third of pregnant asthmatics — find their asthma improves gradually while they’re expecting. For another third, their condition stays about the same. And for the remaining 30 percent (usually those with the most severe form), the asthma worsens, usually between weeks 29 and 36 of pregnancy. If you’ve been pregnant before, you’re likely to find that your asthma behaves pretty much the same way in this pregnancy as it did in earlier ones.
Moms-to-be with asthma may find the shortness of breath that typically comes with late pregnancy of particular concern. But don’t worry — it’s normal, and it isn’t dangerous. Keep in mind, though, that as your growing uterus begins to crowd your lungs, you may notice that your asthmatic flare-ups worsen. Just be sure you treat these attacks quickly.
What Are The Different Causes Of Asthma During Pregnancy?
About 70% of people experiencing asthma have some allergies as well. Expecting mothers are not an exemption. Allergic rhinitis/hay fever can trigger asthma during pregnancy. Common allergens that trigger asthmatic attacks are pet dander, pollens, molds, dust mites, and cockroaches.
Expecting mothers are prone to infections. Both bacterial and viral infections can trigger an asthma attack during pregnancy. Respiratory infections such as a cold, flu, bronchitis, and even sinusitis can bring about asthma during pregnancy.
Irritants are things in the air that irritates the lungs and trigger asthma symptoms. Irritants, such as dust, dust mites, molds, feathers, pet dander are potentially capable of triggering the asthmatic symptoms. Any sort of air pollution, cigarette smoke and smoke from cooking or fireplaces can trigger the symptoms of asthma during pregnancy. Cold air and strong smells (like paint, sprays, perfumes, soaps and shampoo) Can also trigger asthma during pregnancy.
- Physical Exertion:
During physical exertion like vigorous or prolonged exercise, one tends to breathe faster through the mouth. Therefore, they inhale colder and drier air. The muscle bands around the airways of an asthma patient will be extremely sensitive to these changes in temperature and humidity. They will start contracting, which narrows the airway. This triggers the symptoms of asthma.
Is Asthma A Concern During Pregnancy?
Asthma poses little or no risk if it is well in control before your pregnancy. However, if you have severe asthma or it is poorly controlled, it can pose a serious threat not only to you but also to your baby’s life. Remember, the baby in your womb rely on your breathing for its oxygen. And, asthma brings about the difficulty in breathing thereby bringing down the oxygen level considerably. Poorly controlled asthma can increase morning sickness, and may as well pave the way to a complicated labor and birth. However, it may be noted that asthma, if treated effectively would have little or no effect on your pregnancy.
How Does Asthma Affect Your Pregnancy?
Severe asthma during pregnancy will certainly take a toll on your pregnancy. It can bring about,
- Preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure
- Restricted fetal growth
- Premature birth
- Several health issues with the newborn like cerebral palsy and certain intellectual disabilities
- Vaginal bleeding
- Low birth weight
What Are The Symptoms Of Asthma During Pregnancy?
Watch out for the following signs, which characterize the increased severity of asthma:
- Wheezing (noisy breathing)
- Breathlessness – shortness of breath
- A cough
- Feeling of tightness in the chest
The symptoms of asthma tend to get worse when exposed to cold air or during the night
Does The Symptoms Of Asthma Worsen During Pregnancy?
The anatomical changes during pregnancy may sometime increase the risk of the asthma attack in women who already have asthma. Similarly, the surging pregnancy hormones also have an effect on the asthmatic symptoms.
Asthma’s severity during pregnancy is linked to the severity before you got pregnant, as stated in a research. The growing size of the fetus pushes the organs upwards, thereby constricting windpipe. The course of asthma is quite unpredictable. 1/3 of the expecting mothers reports that their asthmatic symptoms improve during their pregnancy. Whereas, 1/3 of the expecting mothers reports that there was no evident change. On the other hand, one-third women reports their asthmatic symptoms aggravate during pregnancy, particularly, when the pregnancy get to the second trimester. For some of them, the symptoms start to aggravate during the first trimester itself. This, more often, happens when expecting mother stops the medication once gets pregnant. Usually, asthma seems to calm down in the third trimester. Remember, failure to control asthma during pregnancy is a cause for concern.
Asthma Treatment And Management During Pregnancy
The pregnancy can progress smoothly, without any stress on the mother and child, provided the treatment plan chalked by the doctor is followed closely. So it’s in the best interest of you and your child to get asthma monitored by the experts.
- Lung functioning: Your obstetrician may conduct a number of tests to determine whether the lungs are functioning optimally.
- Follow-ups: The obstetrician will closely monitor the rise and fall of symptoms and prescribe medicines accordingly. The health of the baby is also checked at regular intervals to rule out any stress. The movement of the baby plays a crucial role here.
Note: If you observe decreased baby movements, immediately call in the doctor
- Medicines: Depending on the severity of asthma and underlying body condition, your doctor may prescribe certain medicines to control asthma. Always remember it is safer to have medicines for asthma during pregnancy than to get asthma attacks.
Preventive Measures To Minimize Asthma Attacks
Identifying and avoiding triggers: You need to check what spurs an asthmatic attack and avoid those situations. This is the most effective and reliable means of preventing and minimizing asthmatic attack during pregnancy. You should,
- Stay Away From Unfavorable Out Door Conditions: Avoid outings in a windy climate. Pollens are one of the most common allergens. Therefore going out in some seasons during which the wind carries allergy-causing pollens should be avoided. While going out, always cover your nose to avoid pollutants, smoke, and dust
- Stay Away From Pets: If you have a pet, restrict his entry to your room; pet dander is also known to trigger an asthmatic attack
- Stay Away From Symptoms Triggering Food: Avoid the foods that trigger asthmatic symptoms.
- Avoid Unhealthy Habits: Drinking alcohol and tobacco smoking (both active and passive) can trigger asthmatic attacks in expecting mothers.
- Ensure Bedclothes Are Fresh: Change the pillowcases and blankets frequently to avoid inhaling the dust.
- Breathe Cleaner Indoor Air: Fit air filters to wall-mounted ACs or use air purifiers to reduce exposure to PM2.5 & PM10 particles. 3M Electrostatic Air conditioner Filters help you keep the Indoor air clean with the help of your existing AC.
- Avoid Getting Expose To Infections: Avoid coming into contact with people who have a cold, the flu, or other infection.
- Control GERD: Take the measures to prevent acid reflux like having small meals in small intervals, elevating head during sleeping, etc.