Treating Common Ailments During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, there are some common ailments many women experience.
- Nausea or "morning sickness" is common; 50-90% of women may have nausea during a normal, healthy pregnancy. There is not one remedy that will work for everyone. Nausea is worse when a person is tired, so get plenty of rest. Eat lightly and try bland foods around the clock, drink enough fluids especially when queasy. Try eating solids then waiting a while before drinking anything. Eating and drinking at the same time may make nausea worse. If you have persistent vomiting, talk to your doctor about medications that may help.
- Heartburn: Best way to treat heartburn is to prevent heartburn. Try eating 6 small meals instead of 3 large meals. Eat slowly and chew your food well. Drink small amounts of liquid with your meals. Avoid foods that trigger the heartburn like fried, greasy, fatty foods, fizzy drinks and foods with a lot of acid, like citrus fruits or juices. If you are still having trouble, talk to your care provider about antacids.
- Constipation is very common during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Drink plenty of water; eat plenty of fiber, fruit and vegetables. Exercise. Talk to your doctor about stool softeners or a bulk-forming agent. Do not take laxatives during pregnancy.
- Headaches are common during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones can be one cause. Try to prevent headaches by eating right, drinking enough fluids and getting adequate rest. If you have a headache, apply cold washcloth on your forehead and gently massage your temples. Rest in a dark, quiet room. If headaches are affecting your daily life, discuss safe treatment options with your doctor.
- Backache is a common complaint during pregnancy. Stay active; walking is a perfect exercise during pregnancy to maintain strength. Avoid sharp twisting movements at the waist and use your legs to lift. Change positions often and avoid standing or sitting for long periods. Avoid wearing high heels and maintain good posture. If back pain is affecting you daily, keep an open mind and look for options that will help. Many women have found backache relief from options provided by a doctor, prenatal exercise programs, chiropractic care, massage, and physical therapy.
Influenza, or The Flu The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all women who are or will be at least 14 weeks pregnant during flu season (November to March in the U.S.) get a flu shot. If you get the flu (also known as influenza) while pregnant, you're more likely to have complications, such as pneumonia, which require hospitalization and which might put you and your baby's health at risk.
Medications to Avoid Most doctors will recommend that you do NOT take aspirin, ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatories (like Advil or Aleve) while you are pregnant. They may cause complications, like bleeding, in your pregnancy later on. If you are taking any prescription medications, talk to your doctor before taking any more of these while you are pregnant.
Common Colds When you are pregnant, you are more susceptible to common ailments like colds. Dr. Melendez recommends that you avoid taking any medications or street drugs during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, if you are really sick, it is safe to take some over-the-counter medications like Sudafed, Robitussin DM and Tylenol. He also recommends that you drink more liquids, take extra vitamin C and get plenty of rest.
Allergies Your allergies will commonly become worse in the fall and spring. However, it is safe to take some over-the-counter medications like Claritin to help with your sniffles and sneezes. Drugs like Claritin are considered "category B" medications - in the same class as Tylenol. If you are unsure whether or not you should take you regular allergy medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking them.
Fifth Disease Fifth disease is a contagious viral illness that is much more common in children than adults. It is also known as "slapped cheek disease" because of the distinctive rash some people develop. Mostly coughs and sneezes spread Fifth disease. Generally, people can spread Fifth disease only when flu-like symptoms are present and before a rash develops. About 1.5% of pregnant women contract Fifth disease during pregnancy. About 6% of these infected women experience pregnancy loss. In extremely rare cases, the infection can cause a condition called fetal hydrops, in which the fetus develops life-threatening anemia and severe swelling throughout the body. The mother and fetus should be closely monitored with fetal ultrasounds to detect this condition. http://my.webmd.com/hw/health_guide_atoz/te6240.asp?navbar=hw1039
Remember, if you have ANY questions about your health during pregnancy, ask your doctor. The only poor question is the one that isn't asked!
Mother to Baby is one resource available to find answers to questions about how drugs, medicines, chemicals or exposure to illnesses may affect a baby during pregnancy. This is a free service offered by the Utah Department of Health and the University of Utah Health Sciences Center. This service is available Monday-Thursday 8:00-6:00. Salt Lake Valley, call free: 328-BABY (2229) or outside Salt Lake, call free: 1-800-822-BABY (2229).
Remember, the best care is preventative care. Take care of yourself during this important time. Eat nutritious foods, exercise, drink plenty of water, attend all prenatal visits and get plenty of rest. Take a deep breath each day and use that moment to focus on you and dedicate yourself to being healthy for you and your baby.