Some of the latest research shows that the key to success is continuing to manage your symptoms throughout the nine months in order to ensure the best outcome for both you and your baby.

Understand Your Changing Body

If you are one of the growing numbers of women in the United States who suffers from asthma symptoms, the good news is that you may be able to have a normal pregnancy as long as you follow your doctor’s recommendations.

It is also important to educate yourself about the changes your body will undergo throughout the different pregnancy stages, since some of them can affect your breathing in different ways. Here are some facts you should know:

  • As the fetus grows, your lungs will change to accommodate your growing weight. This can lead you to breathe a little quicker, making it difficult for some people to differentiate from their asthma symptoms.

  • The growing form of the baby also pushes against the diaphragm, making it increasingly difficult for some expectant mothers to breathe in deeply. This feeling can increase as your pregnancy progresses.

In both situations, most experts say that these are completely normal changes, but it is important that you be monitored closely by your doctor in case there are any asthma complications occurring at the same time. When pregnant women do experience severe asthma symptoms, they run the risk of their fetus not getting enough oxygen, which can affect the growth weight. If your doctor has any concerns, he or she may monitor the baby by ultrasound or sonogram.

What to Expect

You may have heard stories about women whose asthma symptoms worsened during their pregnancy. But for every hard-luck story, you can also find a story about an expectant mother whose asthma improved during those nine months. The reality is that one third of women find that pregnancy triggers their symptoms to worsen, while another third finds their symptoms get better, and the final third experiences no changes at all.

Which group you will fall in just depends, particularly if this is your first pregnancy. In subsequent pregnancies, some doctors believe you can often look at your past experience to give you an idea of what to expect.

If you do find that your symptoms worsen during your pregnancy, it might help you breathe better to know that within three months of giving birth, you should return to your pre-pregnancy health state.

What to Look For

If you do experience the following symptoms at any point throughout your pregnancy, you will want to check with your doctor right away:

  • Needing your fast-relief inhaler more frequently
  • Finding it difficult to complete your normal activities because you can’t breathe
  • Coughing at night when you try to sleep
  • Wheezing when talking or exerting yourself

If you let asthma symptoms go untreated, you run the risk of complications for you and your baby, including hypertension, uterine hemorrhage, vaginal bleeding, premature delivery and low birth weight. But proper treatment and management of your condition can often head off these dangers.

Best Practices

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently partnered with the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology to release guidelines to help doctors care for their pregnant asthma patients. The recommendations include continuing to take specified asthma medications to control symptoms and avoiding the use of oral decongestants during the first trimester.

Protecting Your Baby

While you can’t make your own asthma magically disappear, once your baby is born you can take steps to give him or her a boost that can help prevent the risk of developing allergies and related problems. Research shows that breast feeding can actually help strengthen a baby’s immune system, offering the best odds for a healthy foundation.