Will pregnancy make my asthma worse? How will pregnancy modify or affect my asthma?
Pregnancy will not necessarily make your asthma worse or more symptomatic. Studies of asthma in pregnancy reveal that about one third of pregnant women with asthma will have no change in the degree of their asthma; one third will experience a lessening of their asthma symptoms and a decreased need for medication; and one third of will have worsening of the asthma in pregnancy. Approximately 1 of every 3 pregnant women with asthma will thus experience more asthma symptomatology and require an increase in asthma medication. After the baby’s delivery and the postpartum period, you can expect your asthma to gradually return to usual — whatever the usual was for you!
Can I do anything special during my pregnancy to help protect my unborn child from developing asthma in the future?
The fact that you have asthma does not necessarily mean that your child will develop asthma too. Your asthma diagnosis does, however, place your son or daughter at higher statistical risk of inheriting asthma as compared to a child born to parents with no personal history of asthma. There are no specific measures you can undertake while pregnant to guarantee that your baby will never develop asthma. The most important steps for you to take while pregnant involve taking excellent care of yourself and making sure that your asthma is well controlled, and, hopefully, completely asymptomatic. Studies have shown a link between a mother’s lung function and healthier babies at birth. Better maternal lung function leads to improved fetal outcomes, with fewer premature births and fewer complications for the infant.
Will I be able to breast-feed my baby if I’m taking medicine for my asthma?
Yes, you will certainly be able to breast-feed if you so wish. Asthma medicine, especially that administered in inhaled form, is not a contraindication to nursing your infant. Breast-feeding has many widely known advantages for both mother and child, and may even have beneficial effects in delaying or altogether avoiding the development of asthma in young children. In fact, a recent study in Australia involving over 2,000 children found that infants who were “exclusively breast-fed,” that is, who received only mother’s milk for at least the first 4 months of life, had a significantly reduced risk of developing asthma by the age of 6. Breast-feeding also appears to delay the development of allergy in children. Studies indicate that breast-fed children known to be at increased risk for the development of allergy (because of a family history) develop allergies at an older age as compared to children with similar risk factors who are not exclusively breast-fed. Of course, you should seek guidance from your baby’s pediatrician if you are taking any over-the-counter or prescription medicines while you are breast-feeding.