Pregnancy is that special stage of a woman’s life where she will want to think of only her baby and not get bogged down by other health issues. However, not every pregnancy is a bed of roses. Especially, when the would-be mother has asthma or might have contracted asthma during pregnancy. Around 3-5% of pregnancies see asthma from close quarters. But this is not an issue that big to fret and fume about. Once you are aware that you are asthmatic, try to work towards minimizing its effects for yourself and your unborn. Here’s what you need to do to manage asthma during pregnancy.
Don’t Ignore Early Signs
Many times, a woman with no prior history of Asthma is likely to ignore the short breath spells and wheezing assuming that it is part of pregnancy. Don’t overlook the symptoms. Talk to your doctor and get things clarified. If uncontrolled during the early stages, Asthma during pregnancy may lead to high blood pressure and preeclampsia. It also poses threats to the fetus too including preterm birth, abnormally slow growth, low birth weight and even perinatal mortality.
Chalk Out an Action Plan
Managing asthma is just like managing your pregnancy. Have a solid plan in place to deal with asthma. Part of it is also to regularly record the fetal movements. Sleep on your left side and count till ten. You should hear your baby kick if all is fine. Else, it may be the time to call your doctor for advice.
There could be n number of things a doctor suggests in your appointment with her. Unless you have taken down each and every point, it will be difficult for you to gather all the points once you are back home. Ask for specific educational handouts that could be handy when you are in the time of need.
One of the factors missed out by a few patients is getting their doctors to be in sync with one another’s line of treatment. Get your obstetrician to be in touch with your pulmonologist. At every stage your obstetrician must be involved.
Monitor lung function
It is important for your growing fetus to get enough oxygen. Asthma elevates in some pregnancies in the last trimester. Having regular checkups will help keep the situation in control. Your doctor will recommend diagnostic methods like spirometry – an absolutely painless method – to check the functioning of your lungs. Additionally, have regular ultrasounds after week 32 to ensure that the fetus is safe after the asthma attack.
Keep Watch on Asthma Triggers
Tobacco smoke is one asthma trigger that should be avoided. Another is dust mites. The lesser medications you take during pregnancy – leaving aside the regular supplements and multivitamin tablets – the better for your baby. Try to keep your surroundings free of household irritants, pets and pollens.
Get Influenza Shots
Flu shots are recommended for every pregnant woman and they are absolutely safe. You may take the flu shots in any of the three trimesters and have to be monitored by your doctor. But just don’t procrastinate and miss on it. Flu vaccine is also recommended for pregnant women as they are under high risk for flu complications.
Treat Gastroesophageal Reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux is quite common in pregnancy and that is one of the trigger points for asthma. Prefer to eat at least two hours before bedtime to keep the reflux at bay. Another tip is to stack pillows and sleep with your head elevated to let your gut settle. Again, keep spicy and fatty foods at bay to control the reflux.
Asthma can very well be managed in pregnancy just like any other asthma. Stay away from the triggers, get the influenza shots and stay connected with your obstetrician. Regular communication with your obstetrician and keeping your immediate family in loop is the key to handling asthma well in pregnancy.