Making Decisions About Home Care

Managing Asthma While You're Pregnant: Five Tips That Will Make It Easier On You And Your Baby

by Mae Ferguson

Shortness of breath is a common complaint during pregnancy—but if you already suffer from asthma, the difficulty you have managing exacerbated symptoms can be scary and stressful. For around 6% of women, it can even lead to hospitalization. Here are some tips that you can try to manage breathing problems during pregnancy.

1.) Stand up straight.

Your growing belly can cause you to slouch when standing or lean forward when you are sitting. While this can take some pressure off your back, it makes it harder for you to fully expand your lungs. Practice sitting up straight and standing erect as you consciously take deep breaths in order to make it easier to breathe.

2.) Prop yourself up while sleeping.

Shortness of breath can be particularly problematic at night. Even if it doesn't keep you awake, it can keep you from sleeping deeply enough to feel rested. This is one time in your life where you cannot overdo the number of pillows on your bed. Consider adding extra pillows around your back and a roll-type pillow under your knees so that you remain in a semi-reclined position while sleeping. That will make it much easier to breathe than simply lying flat.

3.) Make an appointment with the pulmonologist.

It isn't uncommon for asthmatics to manage their long-term symptoms through their regular family practitioner or internist. If it has been a while since you've had a visit with the pulmonologist, now is the time to get reacquainted. The fluctuation in your estrogen levels as you progress through your pregnancy activates proteins in your body that aggravate your body's inflammatory response, which means that it may be necessary to adjust your medication. You may even need to add or subtract new medications as you go through the different stages of your pregnancy.

If you're worried about the effect of asthma medications on your unborn baby, your pulmonologist may be able to recommend inhalation aerosols that don't affect fetal development. Since they go directly into your lungs, they're less likely to cross the placental barrier than ingestible medications.

4.) Avoid as many triggers as possible.

Finally, the best thing that you can do to ease your symptoms is to avoid aggravating them as much as possible. While you can't get away from the hormones in your body, you can avoid triggers that you know set off your asthma. Stay away from common triggers like tobacco smoke, cleaning supplies, perfumes, dust, and mold as much as possible. Now is a good time to indulge yourself a little and pay for a cleaning service so that you can keep your environment as allergen-free as possible.

Another trigger to avoid may surprise you, especially if it wasn't a problem pre-pregnancy: acid indigestion. Pregnancy can make you prone to problems with stomach acid, which can actually stimulate an asthma attack. It's a good time to avoid spicy foods and anything else that seems to trigger excess stomach acid during this time.

For more information on how to manage your asthma during pregnancy, talk to your doctor today.