English Version – Asthma in Pregnancy Information

Asthma and Pregnancy

Asthma is the most common medical condition during pregnancy.

Unfortunately, if asthma is not well controlled during pregnancy, it can lead to other health problems for both mother and baby.

When asthma is not well controlled, pregnant women have an increased risk of:

  • Gestational diabetes – a condition where there is too much glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream
  • Pre-eclampsia – this involves high blood pressure during pregnancy and can be very serious

Baby might:

  • Be born earlier than 37 weeks
  • Have low birthweight
  • Need to spend extra time in hospital

The good news is, when your asthma is looked after well, you are very likely to have a healthy pregnancy. Looking after your asthma is also one of the best ways to reduce the risk of your child having asthma.

Will pregnancy affect my asthma?

Asthma symptoms can change when you become pregnant. For about 1 in every 3 women, symptoms get worse.

By reading this information and seeing your doctor, you can be well prepared.

How will I know if my asthma is under control?
  • You’re able to do all your usual activities.
  • You don’t wake up at night with asthma symptoms
  • If you have asthma symptoms, they occur no more than 2 days per week
  • You don’t need to use your reliever medication more than 2 days per week.

Seek help early if you think your asthma is not under control while you are pregnant.

What can I do to look after my asthma during pregnancy?
  • See your doctor regularly about your asthma (every 4-6 weeks), even if you feel well.
  • Talk to your doctor about a getting a written Asthma Action Plan. If you have one already, ask your doctor to review it early in your pregnancy.
  • Tell your obstetrician and/or midwife that you have asthma. Give them a copy of your written asthma action plan.
  • Check with your doctor or nurse that you are using your inhaler properly. Use a spacer if it is suitable for your device. The National Asthma Council of Australiaand Asthma Australia websites have videos on how to use different types of inhalers correctly.
  • Keep taking the asthma medication given to you by your doctor. This is important to prevent asthma attacks/flare-ups. If you have trouble remembering, try placing your inhaler near your toothbrush or setting an alarm on your phone.
  • Stay up-to-date with your vaccinations. Viral infections such as the flu can lead to asthma flare-ups or attacks. Vaccines also give protection to newborn babies against getting sick.
  • Avoid tobacco smoke. If you smoke, it can make your asthma worse. Your doctor can help you quit smoking. Being around smoke during or after pregnancy is also bad for babies and children. It can also increase the chance of children having breathing problems.
  • Do your best to eat healthy food, exercise and avoid things that make your asthma worse (eg. things you are allergic to, dust, outdoor smoke). If hay fever / allergies trigger your asthma, speak to your doctor about treatments for this.


What do I do if my asthma gets worse?
  • Follow your written Asthma Action plan OR use Asthma Australia’s ASTHMA FIRST AID guide to check symptoms and steps to follow.
  • If your symptoms don’t get better call Triple zero (000) for an ambulance. Remember to tell ambulance and emergency staff that you are pregnant.
  • If your symptoms did improve after following your Asthma action plan – it is still important to see your doctor soon.
Is my asthma medication safe to take during pregnancy?

Most asthma medicines are safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding. They will not harm your baby.

Your doctor may change which medication you are taking, when you are pregnant. But if your doctor stops your asthma medication, you should ask why and/or seek a second opinion.

It is best for you and your baby if you keep your asthma under good control by using asthma medications approved by your doctor. This will make sure you and your baby’s oxygen levels stay at healthy levels.

What questions should I ask my doctor about my asthma?
  1. Can you please check that I am using my asthma inhalers and/or nasal spray correctly?
  2. Can I have a written Asthma Action Plan? (or can you check that my written Asthma Action Plan is up to date?)
  3. Can I have a list of my current medications, to take with my Asthma action plan, to my first / next antenatal appointment?
  4. How can I tell if my asthma is under good control?
  5. What should I do if my asthma gets worse?
  6. What should I do if I have a severe asthma attack while I am pregnant?


What is an Asthma Action Plan?

An Asthma Action Plan is a set of clear instructions on how to manage your asthma. It is written by your doctor, with your involvement. The goal of an Asthma Action Plan is to prevent and control your asthma symptoms. Everyone with asthma including pregnant women should have an Asthma Action Plan.

Will my asthma get worse during labour and birth?

This is very rare. If symptoms of asthma do occur during labour, they can usually be treated with normal asthma medicines.

Where can I get more information about asthma?

 Asthma Australia has a free phone service with trained Asthma Educators who can answer your questions about asthma. If English is not your first language, call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) on 131 450 and ask them to telephone Asthma Australia on 1800 278 462.