Your Pregnancy After 35 : Your Health and Medical History (part 2) - Allergies, Anemia, Asthma

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5. Your Health Affects Your Baby

Your health directly affects your baby’s health and well-being. Some illnesses, diseases and conditions women experience during pregnancy can affect their babies; it’s a good idea to be informed about them.

6. Allergies

Allergy sufferers may notice their allergies change with pregnancy. They may improve or get worse. If you have allergies, drink plenty of fluid, especially during hot weather.

You may have to treat your allergy problems differently during pregnancy. Before taking any medication—whether it’s prescription or over-the-counter—ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist whether it’s safe to take during pregnancy. Don’t just assume it’s OK to take it. Asking before you use it is easier than fixing a problem it may cause later.

Nasal Congestion

Some women complain of nasal stuffiness during pregnancy, with allergies and even when they don’t have allergies. We believe this congestion occurs because of circulation changes and hormonal changes that can cause mucous membranes of the nose and nasal passages to swell and to bleed more easily.

Don’t use decongestants or nasal sprays to relieve stuffiness without first checking with your healthcare provider. Many preparations are combinations of several medications you should not use during pregnancy. To relieve congestion, use a humidifier, increase your fluid intake and use a gentle lubricant, such as petroleum jelly, in nasal passages. Discuss the problem with your healthcare provider if these remedies don’t provide relief.

7. Anemia

Anemia is a common medical problem in pregnant and nonpregnant women. Women who are anemic don’t have enough hemoglobin in their blood. Hemoglobin, the iron-containing pigment of red blood cells, is important because it carries oxygen to all the body’s cells.

If you suffer from anemia, you won’t feel well during pregnancy. You’ll tire more easily. You may become dizzy. If you’re anemic during labor, you may need a blood transfusion after baby is born. Pregnancy anemia increases the risk of preterm delivery, growth restriction in the baby (IUGR) and low birthweight.

Anemia is a serious but preventable condition during pregnancy. If you’re anemic, your healthcare provider can prescribe a course of treatment to deal with the problem.

Time-Saving, Energy-Saving Tip

Having pets is an enjoyable experience for a family; however, cleaning up unwanted animal hair can be time-consuming. Try this quick tip to help clear your furniture of the hair left by Spot or Tabby. Put on a clean pair of rubber gloves—those with texturing on the palms work best. Dampen the palms, and rub over furniture and clothes. Pet hair comes off quickly and easily.

Iron-Deficiency Anemia

When you’re pregnant, your baby uses some of the iron stored in your body. Iron-deficiency anemia is caused or aggravated by the fetus’s demands on your iron stores. Your body makes red blood cells but not enough of them, and you become iron deficient. Several factors can cause iron-deficiency anemia:

bleeding during pregnancy

multiple fetuses

recent surgery on your stomach or small bowel

frequent antacid use

poor nutrition

Iron-deficiency anemia is easy to control; most prenatal vitamins contain iron. If you can’t take a prenatal vitamin, you may be given iron supplements. Eating foods high in iron, such as beef, turkey, liver, spinach, cooked beans, tofu, wheat germ, rice, and seeds and nuts, may also help.

8. Asthma

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that causes small airways in the lungs to narrow. It’s characterized by attacks of labored breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and chest constriction. The most common causes of asthma attacks include allergens, exercise, strong odors and cold air. Asthma is 40% more common in women than in men; about 8% of all pregnant women have asthma. The condition is one of the most common medical problems pregnant women face.

Most women with asthma can have safe pregnancies. If you have asthma, you may be able to use the medication you usually use, but discuss the matter with your healthcare provider before pregnancy or as soon as you have confirmed you are pregnant.

Many asthma sufferers have heartburn; heartburn may cause asthma symptoms to worsen. Upper-respiratory infections caused by the flu may also trigger an attack.

Many women feel better and have fewer problems with asthma if they increase their fluid intake during pregnancy. Try it—you should increase your fluid intake during pregnancy anyway.

Some women with asthma appear to get better during pregnancy, while others remain about the same. However, if you have severe asthma attacks when you aren’t pregnant, you may also have severe attacks during pregnancy.

Studies show that if your asthma is under control throughout pregnancy, your pregnancy outcome can be as positive as a woman who doesn’t have asthma. Controlling your asthma may help lower your risk of developing some pregnancy problems. We also know asthma symptoms often improve during the last month of pregnancy due to hormonal changes.

Treating asthma is important so baby can get the oxygen it needs to grow and to develop. During pregnancy, your oxygen consumption increases by about 25%. Untreated asthma can put you and baby at risk. If you have severe, uncontrolled asthma, baby may be deprived of oxygen during your asthma attacks. If you’re not getting enough air, neither is baby.

Research shows it’s better for you to take asthma medicine during pregnancy than to risk asthma attacks and their complications. Most asthma medicine appears to be safe during pregnancy. Terbutaline, and steroids, such as hydrocortisone or methylprednisolone, aminophylline, theophyline, metaproterenol (Alupent) and albuterol (Ventolin) can be used during pregnancy. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before using your usual prescription medication.

Studies show inhaled steroids do not seem to affect baby’s growth. Inhalers work directly on the lungs, so very little medicine enters your bloodstream. However, don’t use Primatene Mist during pregnancy.

If your asthma is severe, you may be given an anti-inflammatory nasal spray, such as cromolyn sodium (Nasalcrom) or an inhaled steroid, such as beclomethasone (Vanceril). Discuss the situation at one of your early prenatal visits.

It’s important to have a flu shot to reduce the risk of getting severe respiratory illness during pregnancy, which could make asthma attacks worse. Avoid cigarette smoke. Don’t smoke, and keep away from others who do.

See your allergist regularly during pregnancy for a lung-function test. This helps determine whether your medication dosage needs to be adjusted. He or she may also suggest you monitor your breathing with a peak-flow meter to find out how open your airways are.

Asthma shouldn’t be a deterrent to learning breathing techniques to use during labor. Talk to your healthcare provider about it.

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