How to Manage a Chronic Illness While Pregnant
When you’re pregnant and realize that in just months you’re going to have a child, your world changes. Suddenly, your own well-being is not the single, most important factor; the well-being of your growing infant is. Something that, unfortunately, may be a concern is high-risk pregnancy factors. Sometimes these factors are unavoidable because they are simply pre-existing medical conditions that have to be considered.
If you have a pre-existing chronic medical condition, what does that mean for you and your child? Do you have a high-risk pregnancy? Could this lead to birth trauma? Much of this depends on what condition is present, and whether there are medical treatments available. Read on to learn about some common conditions and how to manage them.
High Blood Pressure
There can be any number of factors driving high blood pressure, which can become a chronic illness while pregnant. Some possibilities include the age of the mother—over 40 brings higher risk—and having twins or multiples because this results in higher demand on the body’s resources. But chronically elevated blood pressure, especially if it persists for more than 20 weeks of pregnancy, can lead to serious difficulties for the mother. Preeclampsia is a potential complication; it is a pregnancy-related form of hypertension. Also, HELLP syndrome, which stands for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets—this syndrome is characterized by the breakdown of red blood cells, issues with your liver, and a lowered ability to form blood clots.
While there are medical treatments to help with high blood pressure, traditional solutions like ACE or renin inhibitors are not recommended. They can enter a developing infant’s bloodstream and create possible birth injury cases. Consult your healthcare provider for safe or natural ways to manage your blood pressure while pregnant.
Women with diabetes are already exercising a lot of self-care and discipline. This structure needs to continue even more scrupulously now that pregnancy has entered the equation. It’s important for pregnant women to consult with an OB/GYN that is fully aware of the pre-existing diabetic condition. High glucose levels in a mother’s body can, especially if left unchecked, lead to congenital disabilities in the child.
Proper dieting and healthcare are critical in this situation. Advice and treatment not just from an obstetrician, but also an endocrinologist and even a registered dietician can all be important at this time. All of these “team members” will work together, ensuring the health of the child is maintained during pregnancy.
High Fevers & Sickness
Sometimes an illness hasn’t always been present but can crop up unexpectedly, such as a high fever. High fevers can be caused by an array of illnesses, from the common cold to a gastrointestinal virus. One potential risk that arises with elevated body temperatures, particularly during the second trimester of pregnancy, is the development of autism, so it’s always important to take a fever seriously and treat it as quickly as possible.
It’s also important to do this safely. Avoid anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or Aspirin for fever reduction. Your doctor may allow for paracetamol or acetaminophen, like Tylenol, but always consult an expert to be sure.
A chronic illness while pregnant, such as abnormal hCG levels, HIV, or obesity can affect your pregnancy. Even multiple births can exacerbate current conditions or cause them to develop. Always be sure to consult a medical expert before enacting any treatment during this delicate time. And if anything should happen as a result of the treatment you receive, don’t hesitate to take action; you and your child have rights, and there are professionals ready to help you uphold them.