Asthma in pregnancy - a clinical update
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Midwives recognise that asthma in pregnancy is a common chronic condition that can lead to serious complications. Asthma has been defined as a complex polygenic disease which can result from genetic susceptibility and environmental exposure (Gunawardhana et al 2014), and is characterised by experiencing tightness in the chest, wheezing, production of thick sputum, cough and breathlessness (van der Wiel et al 2013). These symptoms occur in episodes, either daily, weekly, monthly or even only a few times a year, affecting approximately 8–9 per cent of pregnant women (Chan et al 2015; Gent et al 2015). When asthma occurs in pregnancy, the woman can experience poor pulmonary function, hypoxia that can lead to adverse health outcomes for the mother and fetus. This clinical update discusses the aetiology of asthma in pregnancy; how asthma affects the woman and fetus, and the role of the midwife caring for pregnant women with asthma.