Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Asthma and pregnancy

5-minute read

Will pregnancy affect my asthma?

Pregnancy can affect your asthma in different ways. About 1 in 3 pregnant women with asthma find that pregnancy makes their asthma worse. However, about 1 in 3 women find that their asthma gets better during pregnancy. If you have severe asthma, your symptoms are more likely to worsen during pregnancy.

Hormonal and physical changes that naturally occur during pregnancy can make it feel harder for you to breathe at times. As your pregnant uterus and baby grows, there is less space inside for your lungs to ventilate. Many pregnant women, with and without asthma, report feeling short of breath at times particularly towards the end of pregnancy. If you are concerned that your shortness of breath is persistent or worsening, you should contact your doctor or midwife immediately.

Your doctor can help you work out which of your symptoms are a normal part of pregnancy, and which may be related to your asthma and need to be managed.

Even if your asthma gets worse when you are pregnant, it usually returns to normal a few months after your baby is born.

How do I manage my asthma during pregnancy?

Asthma should be managed according to your personalised asthma plan, including when you are pregnant. Visiting your doctor every 4 to 6 weeks will allow you to adjust your asthma plan if your symptoms change during pregnancy.

You should keep taking your asthma medicine while you are pregnant. Asthma medicines are considered safe for use in pregnancy, and poorly controlled asthma is dangerous for you and your baby. Some women feel concerned about taking steroid inhalers or pills when they are pregnant. If your doctor advises you to use steroid pills to manage severe asthma, it is safer for you and your baby to do so than to leave your asthma unmanaged.

Research is ongoing as to whether montelukast is safe for pregnant women, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking it during pregnancy

Will having asthma affect my baby?

Your asthma may affect your baby if it is not well controlled. If you are finding it hard to breathe, then your baby is too. This can lead to your baby not getting enough oxygen, which can result in pregnancy complications. Carefully managing your asthma, by having regular check-ups with your doctor and by following your asthma plan, reduces the risk that your asthma will affect your baby.

Will having asthma affect how I give birth?

Having asthma does not usually affect how you will give birth. Asthma symptoms during labour can generally be managed according to your asthma plan. Bring your asthma medications with you to the hospital or birthing centre when you go into labour, as well as a written copy of your asthma plan. You will be able to keep using your asthma medications during labour.

Severe asthma exacerbations (asthma attacks) are rare during labour.

Can I breastfeed if I am taking asthma medication?

You can safely breastfeed your baby when taking asthma medication. Breastfeeding your baby gives them the nutrients they need for the first months of their life, and some protection from disease. There is no need to wait between taking asthma medicine and breastfeeding your baby.

Montelukast can pass to your baby in breastmilk, and it is not yet known whether it is safe for babies. You should not take montelukast while breastfeeding unless your doctor advises you that it is necessary to keep your asthma under control.

Will my baby have asthma?

Asthma tends to run in families, so your baby is more likely to have asthma if you or other close family members do. Smoking, or being near other people who are smoking, while you are pregnant increases the chance that your baby will have asthma.

Who can I talk to for information and advice?

Your doctor, including your asthma specialist and your midwife, can answer your questions about pregnancy and asthma. They can also make sure that your asthma action plan is up to date. If you are concerned about managing your asthma during pregnancy, you can call the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby information line on 1800 882 436 (free service) for advice and support from a maternal child health nurse.

Asthma Australia has information on pregnancy and asthma, including information in other languages. For more information you can also contact the Asthma Foundation in your state by calling 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462 — free call).

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2022


Back To Top

Need more information?

Pregnancy And Asthma - Asthma Australia

When you are pregnant, you are breathing for yourself and your baby. It’s important to have good asthma control so your baby will have a good oxygen supply for normal growth and development, preventing low birth weight and premature delivery.

Read more on Asthma Australia website

Pregnancy and asthma - National Asthma Council Australia

What you need to know Many women find their asthma changes during pregnancy. Whether your asthma is better or worse, good asthma control when you are pregnant

Read more on National Asthma Council Australia website

Asthma Issues: sport, travel, and pregnancy - Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

Many patients with asthma run into trouble when they play sport. They may also be concerned about the use of asthma medications when pregnant or travelling.

Read more on ASCIA – Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy website

Pregnant women, children and bushfire smoke

Bushfire smoke is a serious health hazard, especially for pregnant women and children. Find out here how to limit your own and your family's exposure.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Smoking triggers my asthma and allergies - National Asthma Council Australia

Smoking and asthma are a bad match. Smoking yourself or breathing in other people's smoke: damages your lungs makes your asthma harder to manage stop

Read more on National Asthma Council Australia website

Asthma and allergy - Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

Asthma Allergy Thunderstorm Asthma

Read more on ASCIA – Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy website

FAQs - National Asthma Council Australia

The National Asthma Council Australia (NAC) is a not-for-profit organisation working to improve health outcomes and quality of life for people with asthma.

Read more on National Asthma Council Australia website

Asthma first aid guide

Use this handy infographic to follow what steps to take if your child has an asthma attack.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Causes of asthma in children and teenagers | Raising Children Network

Children with asthma have inflammation in their small airway passages. They don’t get enough air into and out of their lungs. Read about causes of asthma.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Influenza (the flu) - National Asthma Council Australia

What is Influenza? Influenza, commonly known as ‘the flu', is an illness caused when an influenza virus infects the respiratory tract – your nose and lung

Read more on National Asthma Council Australia website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.