Women have so much to deal with when they are pregnant! In addition to prenatal tests such as sonograms and ultrasounds, there are urine tests, blood screens (of both the mother and the fetus) to check for chromosome abnormalities and inherited genetic diseases, stress tests and non-stress tests, and even DNA tests if they are needed. Women and their doctors also have to review and determine what medications are appropriate to either continue using, stop using altogether, or start. What is a mother to do if she has asthma and/or seasonal allergies? Are there medication options? Is she doomed to insomnia? Will her symptoms affect her unborn child? Does she just have to “deal with it” until after the birth? Here are a few tips for dealing with these serious health problems during pregnancy:
Treating Asthma While Pregnant
- If you use medication to treat your asthma and are pregnant (or planning on getting pregnant), there is good news for you. Doctors agree that it is 100 percent safe for pregnant women to continue to use their inhalers every day. Mother and child share everything and that includes oxygen. Oxygen is vital for healthy blood flow and brain function. Keeping those airways open and reducing the inflammation helps both of them. The infant is at risk for several problems if asthma attacks go uncontrolled: pre-eclampsia (an improperly functioning placenta), high blood pressure (also known as hypertension), low birth weight and pre-term delivery or premature birth. The consequences of pregnancy asthma should not be underestimated by either the mother or her physicians.
Treating Allergies While Pregnant
- While mothers are scheduling appointment after appointment with their doctors, it is important not to forget to schedule a meeting with their allergist as well. Every pregnancy is different, and it is difficult to predict how pregnancy will affect a woman’s seasonal allergies (and vice versa). Statistics prove that one-third of pregnant women see an improvement in their symptoms, one-third see the symptoms worsen and the last third notice no difference. Women with pregnancy allergies should undergo a thorough exam of their eyes, nose, mouth and glands. Physicians will also need to use a stethoscope to listen to her lungs and to confirm normal lung function and inflammation by having her exhale into a device called a spirometer. During the first trimester, the mother should be cautious about all medications and that includes approved allergy medications such as Allegra, Benedryl, Claritin and Zyrtec. Typically the safest medications are nasal sprays. Unlike inhalers that spread chemicals through the lungs and oral medications that get swallowed, the effects of a spray are contained to the nostrils and do not affect the baby. The most important advice allergists give is to avoid any sort of decongestant no matter how it is administered.
Pregnant Women are Breathing For Two
- Mothers-to-be get a lot of unrequested advice during their pregnancy. It might be cliché to be told, for the hundredth time, “you are eating for two,” but that does not mean it is not true! Your baby’s health depends on how healthy you are. It is also true–and equally important–that you are breathing for two, as well. Do not forget to see an allergist! Treat your asthma and seasonal allergies for your own comfort and well-being and also for your baby’s health.