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5. Your Nutrition

Herbal Use in Pregnancy

If you normally use herbs and botanicals—in the forms of teas, tinctures, pills or powders—to treat various medical and health problems, stop! We advise you not to treat yourself with any herbal remedy during pregnancy without checking first with your healthcare provider!

You may believe an herbal remedy is OK to use, but it could be dangerous during pregnancy. For example, if you’re constipated, you may decide to use senna as a laxative. However, senna may cause a miscarriage. Or you may have used St. John’s wort before pregnancy. Avoid it now—St. John’s wort can interfere with various medicines. Avoid dong quai, pennyroyal, rosemary (used for digestive problems, not cooking), juniper, thuja, blue cohosh and senna during pregnancy.

If you have hay fever during early pregnancy, your baby is 6 times more likely also to have hay fever.

Play it safe—be extremely careful with any substance your healthcare provider has not specifically recommended for you. Always check with him or her first before you take anything!

6. You Should Also Know

Allergies during Pregnancy

Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to a substance as if it’s harmful. The body releases chemicals to fight the substance. Common reactions include nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes and inner ears. Allergies can be caused by pollen in grasses, weeds, trees and mold.

Forty million people in the United States suffer from allergies. Nearly 10% of all pregnant women have seasonal allergies. They may get a little worse during pregnancy. Some fortunate women notice they get better during pregnancy, and symptoms improve.

If you use allergy medicine, don’t assume it’s safe during pregnancy. Some may not be advised, such as sudafed during the first trimester. Many are combinations of several medicines. Ask your healthcare provider about your medicine, whether prescription or nonprescription, including nasal sprays.

Medicines that are OK to use during pregnancy include antihistamines and decongestants. Ask your healthcare provider which brands are safest for you. Under his or her supervision, you can continue taking allergy shots, but don’t start them now.

Try to avoid anything that triggers your allergies. If dust bothers you, keep windows closed. Use the air conditioner in your car and home. Don’t hang clothes, towels or sheets outside to dry.

Avoid outdoor activities in the morning, when the pollen is usually at its worst. Wear a pollen-filtering mask when you’re outside. Take a shower as soon as you come in from outdoors to wash away pollen.

If you have a ragweed allergy, don’t eat bananas, cucumbers, zucchini, melons or sunflower seeds. Avoid drinking chamomile tea. These are all in the ragweed family and may make symptoms worse.

Thoroughly clean the inside of your home. Wear a mask when you vacuum, and use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Use a humidifier if you live in a very dry climate. Clean the filter in your home at least once a month.

Nasal Congestion

Congestion during pregnancy is normal in many women. It can be especially bad during allergy season when you’re pregnant, so you may feel very stuffed up!

Decongestants reduce nasal swelling by narrowing blood vessels in the nose. Most experts agree you can use Afrin as short-term relief to help reduce swelling. For longer relief, talk to your healthcare provider about using long-term-relief products, such as Nasalcrom, which are considered safe during pregnancy. Discuss it with your healthcare provider.

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