BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
Asthma during Pregnancy
Berkeley Parents Network >
Pregnancy & Childbirth >
Asthma during Pregnancy
I have read the archives about taking various asthma
medications while pregnant but don't see a relatively new med,
Advair (Class C), discussed. My asthma is generally mild but is
starting to get out of control. Normally I would take a course
of Prednisone to get in back under control but I am 6 weeks
pregnant. I called my OB who said not to take Advair
unless ''absolutely necessary'' and to ask my asthma specialist
for a Class B alternative. My asthma doc said Advair is what I
should take and it is ''totally fine'' while pregnant and was
very blase about it. From what I can find on it, it is too new
and they don't know the effects on unborn children. Of course,
me breathing is most important for my child but there must be
other meds to take. Has anyone taken Advair while pregnant or
been switched to something else? I take Albuterol as needed but
because that is becoming increasingly frequent, I know I am
spiraling out of control. I have never been in a situation
where docs contradict each other but where the stakes could be
Just today my doctor and I discussed this because we have one child and
are hoping to have another not long from now. He said, first and
foremost, that the mother needs to get adequate oxygen and asthma
attacks are more immediately threatening to mother and child than asthma
medicine. No one really does pregnant human trials anymore so drugs are
category B at best.
He said that Advair has two different ingredients, and other drugs like
Asmanex (which he prescribed for me) have the same class of asthma
preventative as Advair but without the second ingredient in Advair that
is a long-acting bronchio-dilator that isn't needed if the first
ingredient does its job to get things under control.
You should definitely be taking Advair during your pregnancy. I have
for both of my recent pregnancies. As you say, getting air to your baby
and keeping your breathing good is your most important task. Advair
hasn't been around that long but the underlying meds have been, and
there are no known effects. My docs had me switch off other newer meds
for other issues but kept me on the advair. It's much better than
albuterol, as you want to control the asthma before it starts. Have
your OB speak to a pulmonologist if he or she is concerned.
Regarding using Advair during pregnancy, I used it when I was pregnant
with my twins 6 1/2 years ago, so it's not really all that new. In
addition, Advair is simply the inhaled steroid found in Flovent combined
with Serevent, so the drugs used in Advair are quite old and well
tested. I'd use it without hesitation and would certainly consider it
far safer than untreated asthma, frequent albuterol, or an oral course
of prednisone. Very little of the drugs make it out of the lungs,
unlike prednisone. I've had severe asthma all my life and would be
happy to answer any other questions you have.
I too am pregnant and my asthma has been worse since the beginning of my
pregnancy. First I tried to deny it and avoided taking Albuterol, then
I realized how dangerous it was to deprive myself and my baby of
adequate oxygen. I am a RN and did some reading in my drug books. I
found that Pulmicort, a daily preventitive medication, like Advair, is
It is a corticosteroid, but the inhaled version is a Pregnancy Category
B drug. Advair, like Albuterol, is a category C drug.
Albuterol has been around much longer than Advair, and seems to be
considered safe for pregnant women, but probably has not had enough
studies done to prove its safety as a category B drug. As you wrote,
Advair is a newer drug so it made me uncomfortable to take it. My
doctor also suggested Advair and assured me it was okay. But I told her
that I prefered to try the Pulmicort, if for no other reason then to not
feel stress or worried. The Pulmicort did work for me and I was able to
cut back on my Albuterol use. I have also become more vigilant during
my pregnancy to avoid my asthma triggers, such as homes with cats,
having my husband do the dusting and vacuuming frequently and washing my
bedding more often. In the end, breathing comfortabley for you and your
baby is the ultimate goal and you and your doctor will have to work as a
team to achieve it.
For what it's worth, there is a class B inhaled corticosteroid,
Pulmicort. For anything beyond that, and if you'd consider switching
doctors, I'd recommend talking to Allyson Tevrizian with the Allergy &
Asthma Medical Group of Diablo Valley.
(Berkeley office is 510-644-2316) She's a mom herself, and up on what's
safe and not in pregnancy--she could advise you much better.
Albuterol is a smooth muscle relaxer, as well as a bronchiodilator -- my
OB (and 1991 one) pointed out to me that he had in the past prescribed
it to help stop early contractions... and that it was also good for
It has a long history of use in pregnancy without serious side effects.
Please don't hesitate to use albuterol as needed for asthma while
As you have pointed out, the MOST crucial issue is to breathe well -- as
the ALA motto says ''When you can't breathe, nothing else matters.''
Unlike prenatal nutrition -- in which your baby will take what s/he
needs and leave you whatever's left -- s/he ONLY gets enough oxygen if
you are getting enough yourself.... any oxygen deficit will first effect
Obviously you want to take the most benign meds that will effectively
control your asthma, but controlling the asthma is crucial. Another
doctor, or reading the Internet info on Advair may calm your fears. If
not, go ahead and demand to be changed to another, more established,
medication. Why worry, when you can relax?
Good luck, I took asthma medications throughout my pregnancies... and
while my kids are a little odd... I'm pretty sure its just a personality
I have asthma and was ''high risk'' during pregnancy as a result.
I have tried everything under the sun and only take prednizone (can't
remember how to spell it) when I get really sick or something. That drug
is wonderful for 1 week and evil long term. Advair has been my saving
grace. I think your doctor is crazy. I had a wonderful high risk doctor
named Paula Melone in Walnut Creek. Is is truly outstanding. I have 3
other success stories with this doctor to share with very high risk
situations. She told me it was fine, lack of oxygen and sleep is not
healthy and albuterol and advair in low amounts just light and normal
use is fine. My daughter is now 6 years old and couldn't be more
About Albuterol and Advair during pregnancy. With my first pregnancy, I
only had to do Albuterol about three times during the pregnancy. He is 3
years old now and does have asthma, we just recently & reluctantly
started him on Pulmicort everyday.
And just like you, I have been getting increasingly worse, so this
pregnancy, I've had to be on Advair the entire time and I've done
Albuterol about 5 times during this pregnancy. I'm a couple weeks away
from delivering, so I'm not sure how things will turn out with the 2nd,
everything seems fine so far. I'd love to keep in touch and let you
My doctors, both my general practioner and my OB both say Advair and
Albuterol are fine. I was even on Flonase (a nose spray) during most of
I am usually very reluctant to take any sort of medications, pregnant or
not. But after watching my son have a few wheezing attacks, I've decided
using the drugs are much better than going through those attacks, so we
are using preventative meds now with our 3 year old. My husband has
great health, I was hoping our kids would get that from him.
So, not many answers, but that's my experience so far.
I talked to various drs during my pregnancy and they all assured me that
albuterol is fine. The alterative - not being able to breath properly -
is definitely unhealthy and untenable for both you and your baby. I used
albuterol and have a beautiful and healthy baby. With all the things to
worry about, I think you can cross this off your list.
My asthma also got worse when I was pregnant--to the point where I was
using my albuterol 2-3 times a night. My allergist put me on salmeterol.
It was great. I was able to sleep through the night and probably used my
albuterol a couple of times a week.
Salmetoral (serevent) is the bronchodilator that is part of what you get
when you take Advair (the other portion of advair is the steroid).
Salmeterol has a much longer 1/2 life than albuterol and that's why I
was able to go 12 hours or more without needing another puff.
My allergist didn't recommend Advair to me then, but I take it now,
since my asthma seems to be slowly getting worse the longer I live.
I have had asthma most of my life. It got worse after I had my kids. I
have worked with Chinese Medicine, Homeopathy and Anthroposophic
Medicine. From what I have learned Albuterol is the least invasive as
it tends to stay mostly in the lungs.
Western doctors tend to want to take you to the next level if you use it
a lot but my Anthroposphic doctor tells me to use it as much as I need -
the only side effect is
rapid heart beat which can be annoying. One of the other pieces of
advice he gave
me was to go to bed earlier and get more rest. I have also found yoga
to be very helpful and strengthening.
Take your Advair/Albuterol/Proventil, etc. The way my doc explained it
is like this: If you're not getting oxygen, your fetus is getting even
less. I took mine all through my pregnancy. No problems.
I'm hoping someone can give my some advice on how to deal with my
asthma during pregnancy. My regular dr. said my Albuterol inhaler
was perfectly safe, but my OB disagrees and feels that while it's
better (obviously) than not being able to breathe, it certainly
does cross the placenta and should be used in emergencies. I
don't have terrible attacks of asthma, just shortness of breath
and wheezing, but I know it will get worse during the rest of my
pregnancy. I'm hoping for some natural or homeopathic remedies or
Thanks so much!
I'm deeply concerned that your OB would do anything BUT
encourage your albuterol use in pregnancy. I STRONGLY
suggest you talk to a doctor who understands the
relationship between albuterol and the fetus AND breathing
and the fetus. Albuterol should be on his formulary as a
smooth muscle relaxer (sometimes used to avoid preterm
labor) and has no discernible side-effects except to
increase the oxygen flow to both you and your fetus.
I have had three healthy happy pregnancies on albuterol
and a host of other medications (theophylline, inhaled
steroids, etc) to combat fairly serious asthma. You can
contact me if you want to talk about this
My suggestion is to do EXACTLY what you have been doing,
if it was working, and to get a second opinion. Remember
that your child can steal nourishment from you if you fail to
eat, but can only receive the oxygen that comes through your
system...please be careful. Your asthma may get better or
worse through this pregnancy, but will return to ''normal''
after birth and/or breastfeeding.
I am now in my third pregnancy with asthma. My asthma, like
about 1/3 of women, tends to get worse during pregnancy --
especially during the later stages when the lungs are being
pressed by the baby.
Your OB sounds very out of touch about asthma treatment during
pregnancy. Although SMALL AMOUNTS of inhaled medication do pass
through to the baby, these medications (at least most of them )
are category B medications -- e.g., the same category as the air
we breath and the water we drink. Safe during pregnancy. It's
essential for your baby that you breathe well during your
pregnancy. I'd suggest you ask your primary care physician for
a referrel to a pulmonologist for your pregnancy. I saw a great
woman at Berkeley Pulmonology at Alta Bates -- Dr. Kury, a woman
who has special expertise in ashtma during pregnancy. It sounds
like you would be better off with more preventative meds than it
sounds like you're on now. Expert advice at this point can help
and perhaps you can work on informing your ob.
I got very bad advice (use as little meds as you can stand for
asthma) during my first pregnancy that left me miserable and
struggling for breath and my baby in danger. Get better advice.
I too have mild asthma and allergies and did when I was pregnant
two years ago. My asthma was not always active, but when it was
I had mild wheezing and a tighness in my chest. I used my
albuterol inhaler, but only when I felt it was necessary and even
then just one puff every 4-6 hours. My health care provider
considered this safe (you have to breathe in order to live and
provide enough oxygen to your baby!). I tried homeopathics for my
conditions, but they did not seem to work well for me.
In the past two months I have begun seeing a practioner of
Traditional Chinese Medicine at Meiji College of Oriental
Medicine in Berkeley. I've had wonderful results!! (This
includes herbs, diet modification and accupunture.) Also, you
might want to consider Chiropractic care- try Dr. Aaron and Dr.
Eileen at Upaya Center for Wellbeing near Lake Merrit. They
practice network chiropractic
(so gentle! http://www.upayacenter.org/)
All asthma is exacerbated by stuff in the air, even if you're not
allergic to that stuff, as I'm sure you know... so try mattress
and pillow covers too, if you haven't already. You can get them
in all cotton online.
Good luck and feel free to contact me if you'd like!
I have never been pregnant, but I have had asthma for years. If
you are using Albuterol more than a few times a week, you should
probably consider a different protocol. I was in that place for
several years, and I am so much healthier and have so much more
freedom of movement since I switched to a daily long-acting
bronchiodilator and inhalable steroid (Serevent and Flovent).
That said, I am also concerned about whether these meds cross
the placenta and affect the child during pregnancy. Anyone know
the science on this?
I would question your OB's recommendation. Breathing well
is so important during pregnancy! I have asthma, and when
I was pregnant 3 years ago, in my first trimester, I got 2
upper and lower respiratory infections in a row. I was on 2
different antibiotics, and couldn't seem to get my asthma
under control. It was my OB who sent me to my
The pulmonologist really opened my eyes. He said asthma
needs to be properly managed during your pregancy. Your
body needs more oxygen for the baby's development. A big
warning sign is if you need to use your inhaler at night.
Heartburn can also be worse with asthma, and he
recommended handfuls of Tums, plus elevating the head of
Albuterol is OK during pregnancy -- it's the same drug as
terbuteline that they give women with premature labor. But it
might not be enough. There are other medications that can
safely be used along with albuterol to reduce the inflamation
of the lung tissue. My pulmonolgist's name is James
McFeely, and he's part of Alta Bates Medical Group.
Hope that helps. Good luck.
I have episodic asthma which was more pronounced during my
pregnancy. Maybe it would be helpful to contact the La Leche
League. I believe they have resources about which drugs can pass
through to the placenta as well as which ones can cross into
breastmilk. If albuterol isn't safe, maybe one of the other
bronchiodialators are. Or one of the daily preventative
medications, like Singulaire, might would work for you. Good
Please consider getting yourself a new O.B. His advice isn't
going to help you or your baby.
You need the maximum oxygen possible while you're growing this
miracle inside you. And your baby needs oxygen to grow, too!
Wheezing, even a little, is unacceptable while pregnant. And
putting it off till it's an emergency could compromise the
health, or even the life, of your baby. The use of albuterol to
stave off a grave asthma attack is supported by most doctors.
Did you know that for asthmatic moms who become pregnant, about
1/3 have less asthma, 1/3 stay the same, and 1/3 get worse? It
sounds like you might be in the last category. Please don't fool
around with this. It could have awful results.
Jennie, an asthmatic mom
I had severe asthma both before and during my pregnancy with my
now 6 year old son. I took many more medications than just an
inhaler. I researched all the medications I took before my
pregnancy and discussed my concerns about them with my OB/GYN.
Although they can pass to the child, my OB/GYN stressed that it is
much more important that I be able to breath while I was pregnant
than the small risks my meds might have on my unborn child. I feel
that you need to discuss your asthma with your OB/GYN. Maybe he/
she is unware of how severe uncontrolled asthma can be in
pregnancy. If necessary, get your reular practitioner to discuss
this issue with your OB/GYN. Trying to find alterntive treatments
during pregnancy could be risky. There certainly are alternative
treatments for asthma (I have tried several), but just because
something is ''herbal'' or alternative may not mean it is risk free.
Starting something new while pregnant is possibly risky as well
since you do not know how long it will take to work or if it will
work at all or if you will experience side effects. You can
contact me if you want to discuss what I did.
I have moderate asthma, and use a preventing treatment which
includes not only Albuterol inhaler, but also low steroids
inhaler. I am pregnant with #2 now. In both my first pregnancy
and now, I used those inhalers. The doctors (regular, Ob as well
as specialist lungs dr) said it is important to continue to take
the treatment and if needed to increase the dosage. This is
because it is very important to keep the level of oxygen in the
blood. Lower level of Oxygen can be dangerous! The level of
oxygen drops in severe asthma attacks so the most important
thing is not to reach a severe attack, and keep your condition
in balance. Our babies influenced from what we eat and what
medications we take, as well as from our genes. But low level of
Oxygen can be much more dangerous to his life than a minor
dosage of preventing treatment. So, of course you can try to
rest and donít do any activities that make difficulties in
breathing, and try other possibilities to improve your condition
(and you should be prepared that it is going to be worse during
the pregnancy). However, donít neglect the problem.
I checked with both my allergist (Jim Nickelsen, pediatric
asthma specialist) and my OB when I was pregnant and handling
my asthma. Both were adamant that I keep up with my Albuterol
as needed. They both said the same thing, basically, that
decreased oxygen flow to the placenta was a much greater risk
to the baby than albuterol crossing the placenta. I think I
also remember reading that the actual blood levels of albuterol
are very small if you are using an inhaler. My baby came out
fine, and at 19 months, she hasn't shown any signs of asthma
ps. I still use the albuterol and I am nursing.
I did not see your original posting but had problems with asthma
during both of my pregnancies. My second child is now 3 months
old, and I'm still using the inhalers I started during this
pregnancy. I don't normally have asthma problems but tend to
get it when I have a cold or other type of virus. Sometime
towards the end of my second trimester with this most recent
pregnancy I found myself very short of breath and it was keeping
me awake at night. At first, I just thought it was from my
lungs being compressed but when I was sent to Alta Bates to get
it checked my oxygen saturation levels were on the low side.
The OB on-call put on albuterol and serevent, which made my
heart race frequently. I saw a pulmonologist very shortly after
who took me off the serevent and gave me beclemethasone which
she felt was one of the safest cortico-steroids to use in
pregnancy since it has been around for a long time with no known
adverse effects. Once this medicine started working for me, I
didn't even need any more albuterol.
During my first pregnancy, the asthma was not diagnosed and I
ended up developing a very severe bronchitis about two weeks
before my due date. One of the benefits of having caught the
asthma early on this time around was that I was able to avoid
getting bronchitis again, even though I got a bad chest cold at
the end. Anyway, of most relevance here is that I was told by
every practitioner I saw during this last pregnancy that it is
very important to stay on the medicine and to get checked out
immediately if you are having any problems breathing because the
loss of oxygen can happen very quickly, which can endanger your
baby. It is very scary to have to take medicine when you are
pregnant, but sometimes it really is to your baby's benefit.
I am 4 weeks pregnant and allergies have been triggering my
asthma badly for the last two weeks. My doctor is encouraging me
to use steroids in spray (Qvar) and allergy medicine
(Claritin). A nurse practitioner at Kaiser told me that they
are safe to use during pregnancy but I am still scare to use
them. I use a bronchodilator (albuterol) , and I have an air
cleaner and a humidifier in our room but its not enough to keep
me well long term.
I am starting to worry because I donít know if I am getting the
enough oxygen the embryo needs. Does anybody knows of and
alternative treatment or Dr. for this or has anybody used
steroids and allergy medicine during pregnancy.
Thanks in advance fro your help
I had quite a bit of allergy trouble, and I used Zantac during
pregnancy, as well as Sudafed. Both are considered ''safe.'' I
would have preferred to take nothing, but I absolutely could
not breathe or sleep (I kept having dreams of suffocation from
the congestion). I researched Sudafed during pregnancy online,
and found that the effect on the fetus (after trimester 1) is
slight hyperactivity -- you may want to read about it and see
whether you're comfortable with it.
The medications helped tremendously, and the baby suffered no
ill effects. What actually convinced me to take the medicine
was the nurse practitioner telling me that my being unable to
breathe was not a healthy state of affairs, and that if she
were in my shoes, she would take the medication (in fact, she
did when she was pregnant!)
I took QVAR and albuterol during my recent pregnancy. I wasn't
comfortable with it either, but did a lot of research and found
that the danger of the baby getting too little oxygen is much
higher than the tiny amount of the drug they receive. (Inhaled
asthma drugs do not readily enter the bloodstream.) QVAR is
definitely the best steroid to take - I switched to it because
it's been around the longest and has a very good safety record.
It turns out I didn't have to use drugs very much because my
asthma got much better from the pregnancy hormones that relax
smooth muscles. Now that I've delivered, the asthma is back in
full force, but it was very mild during the last 5-6 months of
pregnancy. Maybe this will happen to you!
For alternative treatment, you might want to look into acupunture
and herbs with Marti Kennedy in Berkeley, who specializes in
prenatal care (don't have her number handy, but she's in the
phone book). I saw her late in pregnancy for other reasons and
she said she would have been able to help with the asthma had I
come to her earlier.
Hi, I had a healthy boy, and used asthma meds all through my
pregnancy. I was on Singulair, Pulmicort, and Albuterol. My Dr.
also said Claritin was ok. He preferred Pulmicort over Flovent
because Pulmicort has been out longer-- thus more proof it was ok
for babies. The asthma meds helped me immensly, the Dr. assured
me it was more important for me to breathe than any minimal risks
the meds might carry. His name is Dr David Denmead,(925 463 9400
I think) he's an allergy/asthma specialist who has offices in
pleasanton and I think danville. He's worth the drive if he
covers your insurance. I went to my reg dr. for the first 3 mos
of my pregnancy and my asthma just got worse and worse. Dr.
Denmead had me breathing easy within a week after my appt, and
he's extremely knowledgeable about asthma/allergy meds and
pregnancy. Good luck and remember, a healthy mom means a healthy
I know the suggested drugs concern you, but I would really worry
about your baby's development without sufficient oxygen.
Go back to your doctor. Wheezing is absolutely unacceptable in
pregnancy, but steroidal sprays and very new antihistamines are
negotiable. As alternatives to the steroidal spray, some folks
get relief with Cromolyn (Intal) or nedocromil (Tilade). (They
didn't do a thing for me.) Claritin is new enough that I'd be
cautious about it, but there are lots of older antihistamines on
the market--ask your doctor about them. But definitely do
something to stop the wheezing, even if it means a few weeks of a
steroidal spray. And don't hesitate to use Albuterol when you
need it--but recognize that it's a *rescue* asthma treatment, not
a maintenance treatment.
Perhaps you normally have very mild asthma and have not had to
use these sorts of meds before. Did you know that with pregnancy,
about 1/3 of asthmatic women get worse, 1/3 get better, and 1/3
stay the same? Maybe you're in the first group. I'm sorry! I hope
you get relief soon.
QVAR is very safe during pregnancy (I took it myself during both
my pregnancies, and as a pediatrician, I've taken care of
several patients whose mothers also took it or other inhaled
steroids during pregnancy). Sometimes asthma does get worse
during pregnancy -- it's better to control it well with inhaled
steroids than to worry about having to use oral steroids if
things get worse (but, even then, a brief course of oral
steroids is better than worrying about not getting enough oxygen
to your placenta, etc).
I also am pregnant (22 weeks) and have asthma. My FANTASTIC
allergy/asthma specialist (Dr. James Nickelson, on Telegraph in
Berkeley) told me that Pulmicort (Budesonide) is the only (or
one of the only?) Class A medication for asthma--it's a
controller, not a quick relief (like albuterol). I highly
recommend you see him. He knows his stuff. Good Luck!
I took Claritin while pregnant and didn't have any problems. My
doctor thought that it was better to deal with the allergies.
Claritin has been an over-the-counter medicine in Canada for
years - much longer than in the US. And I haven't seen any
warnings for pregnant women there.
I used albuterol and inhaled steroids throughout all three of
my pregnancies. I am blessed with three healthy children.
Not only are the inhaled drugs ''safe'' to use (inhaled drugs
are best because they go directly to the lungs without first
going through the bloodstream/crossing the placenta) but
the worst POSSIBLE thing you can do to your baby is to risk
not controlling asthma while pregnant. Do what your doctor
tells you, and if you don't trust your doctor, find one you do! If
a variety of antihistimines work for you, pick the ''safest'' but
don't try to do without if you have allergy triggered asthma.
An interesting aside about albuterol is that it is a smooth
muscle relaxant --- and years ago was routinely prescribed
to help stop early labor...my OB warned me that my 2nd
child might be late because of albuterol use (he was 3 wks
My understanding of breathing and pregnancy is that, (unlike
fetal nutritional needs where the baby gets fed first and your
body gets what's left...) your baby can ONLY receive enough
oxygen for healthy growth if you are getting enough yourself.
Don't take chances, please.
Please do whatever research, and visit whatever doctors
you need to establish a regime that you're comfortable with,
and that assures you of a safe, asthma free pregnancy. An
internet search will turn up lists of ''safe'' allergy and cold
drugs. Good luck!
this page was last updated: Nov 11, 2007
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network