Pregnancy and Pulmonary Conditions

Women with lung conditions during pregnancy can face unique challenges. Hormonal changes, increased blood volume, higher risk of clotting, and physical changes during pregnancy can worsen pre-existing lung conditions and introduce new symptoms.

At Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), we provide highly specialized care for women with lung conditions before, during, and after pregnancy. Our multidisciplinary team of experts, including maternal-fetal medicine specialists, pulmonologists, pulmonary vascular specialists, thoracic surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses, is dedicated to delivering the highest level of care for both the mother and the baby.

Pregnancy and Lung Conditions Topics

Pre-existing Lung Conditions

Pre-existing lung conditions may include:

Lung Conditions Arising During Pregnancy

Lung conditions that arise during pregnancy may include:

Optimal Care for Lung Conditions and Pregnancy

Women with pre-existing lung conditions who are planning a pregnancy and women who develop lung problems during pregnancy require specialized care. In these cases, it is very important that a team of specialists in multiple disciplines – including maternal-fetal medicine, pulmonology, and anesthesiology – be closely involved in the care of both the mother and the baby.

Preconception Planning

For women with significant pre-existing lung conditions, planning with the medical team should begin before conception in order to understand how to best manage conditions during pregnancy.

Adjustments in medication may be recommended prior to conception. Mothers should not reduce or discontinue medications on their own.

Prenatal Care

A detailed prenatal care plan will address the mother’s individual health issues. Ideally, medication adjustments and planning are started before or early in the pregnancy. The mother’s symptoms and pulmonary function need to be carefully monitored by the team throughout pregnancy.

Affecting roughly one in 10 pregnant women, asthma is among the more common lung conditions seen in women of child-bearing age. Rhinitis and gastroesophageal reflux disease (heartburn), both common conditions during pregnancy, can trigger asthma symptoms.

During pregnancy, a multidisciplinary care team can help mothers best control asthma symptoms and avoid asthma exacerbations that can lead to hospitalization. Often, medications change or doses increase during pregnancy to achieve optimal control of symptoms.

Delivery and Postpartum Care

In addition to the prenatal care team, obstetric anesthesiologists are a key part of the delivery process. A delivery plan developed by the multidisciplinary medical team should anticipate different scenarios that may occur during delivery. Asthma and other lung conditions also may worsen after delivery. Coordination among specialists is very important in optimizing care during delivery and the postpartum period.

Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Women’s Lung Health

Experts in maternal-fetal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital work closely with specialists in the Women’s Lung Health Program, an innovative, multidisciplinary collaboration among expert pulmonologists, pulmonary vascular specialists, thoracic surgeons, laryngologists, infectious disease specialists, geneticists, medical oncologists, and dietitians. Drawing on the renowned expertise in women’s health and gender-based research at BWH, the Women’s Lung Health Program aims to provide comprehensive and tailored disease management to address the specific needs of female patients with lung disease, including asthma, chronic lung infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), dyspnea, genetics, LAM, lung cancer, pulmonary hypertension, and vocal cord dysfunction.

Appointments and Locations

To schedule an appointment or to learn more about our services, please contact us at (617) 732-4840.

Our program is located at:

Brigham and Women’s Hospital
75 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02115

Pregnancy and Pulmonology Program Leader

Nicole A. Smith, MD, MPH
Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine


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