This article has been reviewed by Thanai Pongdee, MD, FAAAAI
If you are pregnant and have asthma or allergies, you may feel uneasy about taking medications, but it is very important to keep your symptoms under control.
How do you stay healthy and know which medications are best for you during your pregnancy?
An allergist / immunologist, often referred to as an allergist, can tell you which asthma and allergy medications are the safest and most effective to take throughout pregnancy. Make an appointment with an allergist soon after you discover you are pregnant to develop or review your personal treatment plan and to give you peace of mind.
In the meantime, here are answers to some common questions.
Can women with asthma have safe pregnancies?
Yes. With good asthma management, you can keep your asthma under control and have a healthy baby.
How does uncontrolled asthma affect the fetus?
Uncontrolled asthma symptoms can cause a decrease in the amount of oxygen in your blood supply. The fetus gets its oxygen from your blood. Since a fetus needs a constant supply of oxygen for normal growth and development, managing asthma symptoms is very important to allow you and your baby to get enough oxygen.
Is it safe to take my asthma medications?
The risks of asthma flare-ups are greater than the risks of taking necessary asthma medications. Studies show that most inhaled asthma medications are safe for women to use while pregnant. However, oral medications (pills) should be avoided unless necessary to control symptoms. Knowing which medications to take is a good reason to stay in close contact with your allergist so he or she can monitor your condition and alter your medications or dosages if needed.
Will being pregnant affect my asthma symptoms?
Pregnancy may affect the severity of your asthma symptoms. One study showed that asthma symptoms were worse in 35% of pregnant women, improved in 28% and remained the same in 33% of pregnant women. Asthma has a tendency to get worse in the late second and early third trimesters; and, many women have fewer symptoms during the last four weeks of pregnancy.
Can I continue to get allergy shots during pregnancy?
Allergy shots (a form of immunotherapy) are safe to take while you are pregnant. As always, your allergist will monitor your dose to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction to the shots. These reactions are rare; however, a reaction could be harmful to the fetus. Allergy shots are not started on patients who are pregnant but can be continued on patients who become pregnant while receiving it. Although current immunotherapy doses can be maintained during pregnancy, doses should not be increased until after delivery.
What should I avoid if I have asthma or allergies?
Whether you are pregnant or not, you should stay away from things that trigger your symptoms. This might include dust mites and animal dander, and irritants such as cigarette smoke.
Can women with asthma perform Lamaze?
Most women with asthma are able to do Lamaze breathing techniques without any problems. Asthma symptoms are rare during labor and delivery in women whose asthma has been managed during pregnancy.
Can I breastfeed if I am taking medications for my asthma or allergies?
Breastfeeding is a good way to increase your child's immunity, and it is strongly recommended. Medications recommended for use during pregnancy can be continued while nursing, because the baby gets less maternal medicine through breast milk than in the womb. Your allergist can discuss with you the best treatments while nursing.
Although these are common questions during pregnancy, each patient's individual treatment varies. It is best to visit your allergist regularly during pregnancy so that any worsening of asthma can be countered by appropriate changes in your asthma management plan. Make sure to discuss any specific concerns with your physician to ensure the healthiest pregnancy for your well being and that of your baby.
• You can have a healthy pregnancy if you have asthma or allergies.
• Managing your symptoms is very important during pregnancy.
• Do not stop taking your medications.
• An allergist has special training to develop or review a treatment plan that is right for you while you are pregnant.
The AAAAI's Find an Allergist / Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help you find a specialist close to home.
Find out more about asthma.
Find out more about the Vaccines and Medications in Pregnancy Surveillance System (VAMPSS).