Q: What asthma medications are safe to take while I'm pregnant?
A: While most asthmatic women find their symptoms get better during pregnancy, some women do continue to suffer while they're expecting. If you're among them, you should know that there several medications that will not only keep you breathing comfortably, but are safe for your baby as well.
Women with mild asthma (a respiratory condition in which your airways narrow in response to triggers like chest congestion, allergies, stress, strong odors, cold air, or physical activity) can continue to use sprays like Breathaire or albuterol inhalers. If your asthma is more severe, you can use anti-inflammatory sprays like Nasalcrom or an inhaled steroid like Beclovent and Vanceril. In the rare event that your asthma can't be controlled with these meds, you may need an oral steroid like prednisone, which is also believed to be safe to take during pregnancy.
Although you may be reluctant to take any medications during pregnancy, it's healthier for your baby when your asthma is in check. Frequent attacks (where your airways become inflamed, tighten up, and produce excess mucus, leading to symptoms like wheezing, chest constriction, and shortness of breath) can reduce oxygen flow to your baby and result in complications like low birth weight, placental problems, and preeclampsia.
While you're pregnant, try to reduce the amount of medication you need by avoiding common asthma triggers. Steer clear of allergens like pet dander, dust, and secondhand smoke (a major asthma trigger). You should also consider getting a flu shot, since the flu often exacerbates asthma symptoms and leads to attacks. Many women worry that they will have an asthma attack while they are in labor. Rest assured this doesn't happen often, but if it does, it can be easily remedied with medication.