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Pregnancy and Asthma Ė Should You Be Concerned?

If you have asthma, you may be wondering whether or not youíll be able to have a healthy pregnancy. The good news is that as long as your asthma was controlled before pregnancy, thereís no reason to believe it canít be successfully controlled during pregnancy.

Of course, youíll need to work closely with your doctors Ė both you asthma specialist and your obstetrician. Donít stop taking your asthma medications when you become pregnant, but do work with your doctor to get the right medications in the right dosages to control your asthma. Yes, in theory, you should be on as little medication as possible while pregnant. However, the one thing thatís almost impossible to have too much during pregnancy is oxygen Ė you need to keep taking your medication so that you can breathe efficiently for yourself and your baby.

Changing or altering your medication without your doctor's help and supervision can be dangerous for both you and your baby. Studies have shown that women with uncontrolled asthma are more likely to deliver prematurely, have smaller or underweight babies, and require longer stays in the hospital after delivery. In extreme cases, your baby can die from oxygen deprivation if your asthma isnít managed properly.

The problem is that, from the onset of pregnancy, thereís no way to tell how the asthma will affect your pregnancy. Therefore, care coordination between your obstetrician and your asthma specialist is essential. In fact, when choosing your obstetrician, conferring with your asthma specialist for recommendations is a good idea.

On the plus side, one in three women will experience an improvement in their asthma symptoms while pregnant. Unfortunately, there's also an equal chance that your asthma will remain unchanged or that it will get worse throughout your pregnancy.

The other thing studies have shown is that the milder your asthma or the better controlled your asthma was before pregnancy are both good predictors of how well your asthma will be controlled during pregnancy. Women rarely, if ever, have asthma attacks during labor Ė your chances are about 1 out of 10. So that's one less thing you need to worry about.

If your asthma deteriorates during your pregnancy, it will likely reach its worst level around months 6 to 8. This is when the coordinated care mentioned earlier will be essential. Your doctors will work together to create an asthma action plan that you should keep with you no matter where you go. This should include your doctors' names, addresses, and contact information; medications that your doctors have already considered that can be given to emergency providers; and a list of any medications youíre taking. Include any other information or other things about your health that emergency providers should know.

Finally, the same things that triggered asthma attacks before you were pregnant will likely still be triggers for you, so be sure to continue to avoid those things. You may be increasingly sensitive to some classic triggers, but that isnít the case for all women.

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