Asthma is a quite a common condition these days, especially with the air pollution increasing drastically, almost everyone seems to suffer from some kind of breathlessness. However, if your breathing problems are more than just what most of the people have to suffer, or you have a history of asthma for which you have taken medications, pregnancy is a time to take extra care.
Fortunately, due to the medical advances in respiratory sciences, the chances that an asthmatic mother will have a normal healthy beaming baby are high; however, taking some extra precautions does no harm! How much will asthma affect the pregnancy is one question; but it has also been seen that pregnancy also affects asthma. In one-third of the women, after the delivery, asthma becomes better and the mother may find it easier to breathe.
The reasons behind this are still not clear. It is believed that during pregnancy, the expectant mother’s lungs work extra hard to ensure rich oxygen supply to the mother as well as the developing baby. This leads to an improved lung function and improved lung capacity, which is maintained even after the pregnancy.
Another reason that has been explained is about increased cortisone levels in pregnancy which improve the lung capacity and breathing, and reduce the allergic responses like bronchoconstriction. Also, progesterone hormone, which is at peak levels during pregnancy, causes bronchodilation, explaining why many women feel that their symptoms have become better.
In another one-third, it has been seen that the asthma almost remains the same. For the remaining third, the asthma may even worsen. Again the reasons behind the worsening are not clearly understood. It is believed that during the late stages, in order to meet with the increasing bodily demands for oxygen, the number of respirations per minute is increased. This leads to a feeling of breathlessness in the mother, often confusing the diagnosis.
This change is physiological, but may be falsely regarded as worsening of asthma. Secondly, as the uterus enlarges, it pushes against the diaphragm, and the residual capacity of the lungs may decrease. Also due to the nausea and vomiting, there is an exaggerated acid reflux in pregnancy, which in turn can worsen asthma. Thus, though many ideas have been postulated, the entire picture still needs to be studied and completed.
Whatever may happen to you, whether your asthma gets worse, or better, or stays the same, it is crucial that you should be breathing right and not depriving the little one of the oxygen that he needs. Poor asthma control has been linked to a number of pregnancy outcome related problems. In general, all expecting mothers should follow the following precautions:
Avoid stuffing yourself too much. Don’t let yourself feel too full with the food you have eaten, as this can cause you to feel uneasy and breathless. Though the importance has been underestimated, eating few small meals a day during pregnancy for asthma is as important as for any other condition. While eating packed foods, be sure to check the contents. If you find any ingredient that you are allergic to, avoid the food completely. This is one of the important reasons that can precipitate an asthma attack.
Exercise and deep breathing techniques:
Heavy and moderate exercises can leave you breathless; whereas, light exercises and yoga breathing techniques can leave you rejuvenated and make you feel much better. These include brisk walking in shady weather and breathing concentration exercises. Deep breathing exercises go a long way in not only controlling asthma during pregnancy, but also for your life. They help to improve the lung functions and increase lung capacity.
Deep inhalations and exhalations also help to relax your mind and release those hormones, which further help to reduce the bronchoconstriction, and keep your breathing at ease. However, what needs to be understood here is that the breathing exercises need to be done daily on a regular basis, and not once in a while. Ten minutes of your time spent every day in these exercises can greatly improve the quality of your life.
Check your medications:
You may be taking inhalers and steroids for your asthma, but you may not be able to take them during pregnancy. Consulting your doctor is very important. Your doctor should prescribe you the medicine which will be safer to use during pregnancy. In general, inhaled medicines are better than oral ones, as they enter into systemic circulation in smaller quantities, and their chances of affecting the baby are also lesser.
Also remember that it may not be advisable for women with severe asthma to stop taking their medications completely. This can often worsen the condition and you have to at every stage ensure that the supply of oxygen to your baby is sufficient and not being compromised.
It is important to stay healthy. Avoid contact with people you know who are suffering from common cold or other contagious conditions, lest you should catch one. During pregnancy, the body anyway is quite susceptible to flu and common cold-like conditions, and you don’t want these to happen and worsen your asthma. Your doctor may recommend some pneumococcal vaccines. Also daily exercises and a good diet plan also help you in your endeavor to stay fit and fine. Keep your indoors and office areas clean.
Avoid any allergens:
This is crucial, because in many women asthma attacks are precipitated after exposure to such allergens. These may include dust, pollen grains or car smoke. Keep you face covered with your handkerchief or mask when in public. Avoid too much heat or cold. If you are used to an air- condition, ensure that the servicing has been done and there is no choking or blockage of the pipes. Get regular dusting done of your house and the places where you spend most of your time. These small steps go a long way in making you feel better and avoiding the asthma attack during pregnancy!