Pregnancy and Allergies
Having suffered from allergic rhinitis most of my life and having required emergency care several times for allergic reactions to pain relievers and, of all things, pancakes, my husband and I have talked about what my allergies could mean for a pregnancy.
Fortunately, I was one of those whose allergies got better while I was pregnant. Pregnancy Weekly estimates that about a third of pregnant women suffer worse allergies during their pregnancies. Another third observes some, or a lot, of improvement while another third do not notice any change in frequency or severity at all.
However, I was not exempted from suffering from non-allergic rhinitis, which most pregnant women experience around the first trimester, when pregnancy hormones are at its peak. At least, it was only mild nasal congestion and not the runny nose, watery eyes and migraine headache type of rhinitis that usually besets me. Imagine having to deal with that while also dealing with all the other pregnancy symptoms!
But what does one really have to keep in mind about allergies during a pregnancy?
Regardless of whether one’s allergies have improved or not, authorities would always advise that you inform your doctor/midwife of your allergy history. Managing allergies during pregnancy is more than possible, it is also very doable. One may not possibly avoid all the triggers but keeping your surroundings clean, from your home to your office desk, is a good start. Use of hand held vacuums will not be backbreaking for the infanticipating mother but will also usually take care of dust and dander.
Minimizing intake of foods that commonly cause allergies, like dairy products and seafood, may also be beneficial provided that a pregnant mother still gets all her caloric requirements and finds other sources for calcium, protein and other minerals. Highly allergic mothers, however, should probably consider avoiding these foods altogether during the pregnancy but should only do so with the supervision of their OB especially since they may require supplements.
Minimizing stress through better time management, task delegation, adoption of calming hobbies, yoga and regular exercise, if allowed by the doctor, will also boost the immune system. Carrying allergy cards, or allergy translation cards when travelling, may also come in handy in case of emergencies where the mother cannot provide an allergy history or other pertinent information.
Although pregnant women are discouraged from taking drugs unless absolutely necessary and without the okay of their doctor, it is also imperative that allergy sufferers do not unnecessarily compromise their bodies, and therefore, their babies. Compromise happens when the allergy gets so bad that one cannot eat or sleep or function properly anymore. Untreated asthma may also result in high blood pressure, toxemia or premature delivery. Given that pregnancy hormones may aggravate allergic reactions, one should also be on the lookout for possible anaphylaxis.
Treatments for rhinitis like nasal saline, antihistamines and decongestants can go a long way in providing relief for the pregnant mom. Asthma medications’ risks to the fetus are also lower compared to the risks of an uncontrolled asthma.
Pregnant women and their partners, should know the fastest way to the hospital in case of an allergy emergency. Lastly, pregnant highly-allergic women should also follow my doctor’s advice and have a slip ready bearing “strong history of allergy” upon admission for the delivery to forewarn the medical staff.
Managing allergies requires a lot of caution and managing allergies while pregnant will require a more constant kind of vigilance. But again, managing allergies during pregnancy is possible and very doable.