For women with chronic illnesses, it’s important to have your condition under control before becoming pregnant. The good news is that preparing yourself can help you carry out a safe pregnancy and give birth to a healthy infant. Some chronic conditions that may require extra care during pregnancy are high blood pressure, epilepsy, diabetes, coronary heart disease, congenital heart disease, and asthma. Your best course of action for managing any of these conditions (among others) throughout the duration of your pregnancy is to see your regular specialist ahead of time to discuss whether or not you’ll need to alter your healthcare routine prior to TTC. Most importantly, don’t stop taking your regular medication without a doctor’s recommendation. The chronic illness that affects you could have an effect on your baby once you conceive, too. For instance, epileptic seizures are not only dangerous to expectant mothers – they could have serious impacts on the health of a fetus, and in the most severe cases, could even be fatal. That’s why it’s crucial to see a specialist to discuss treatment options and to find ways to manage your condition as best as possible before becoming pregnant. While each woman may experience differences in how symptoms of her chronic illness are impacted by pregnancy, here’s a list of what women with common chronic conditions could expect while pregnant:
According to research, approximately one-third of women experience worsened symptoms during pregnancy, while one-third see no change, and a final third actually experience improvement in asthma symptoms while pregnant. Consult the doctor who normally treats you for asthma to discuss medication before TTC.
Women who have diabetes may be more likely to have induced labor or caesarean sections, but that doesn’t mean it’s the case for all diabetic women. If you control your diabetes beforehand, you’ll be able to lessen the risks to the health of both you and your baby. Visit your diabetes specialist before conception for more information.
Folic acid is important for all pregnant women, but it’s even more vital for epileptic women. It’s important to balance medications taken to control epilepsy with proper amounts of folic acid. Some women notice improvements in seizures throughout pregnancy, while others find that seizures are either unaffected or worsened by pregnancy . If you are suffering from epilepsy we recommend seeing a doctor before TTC.
High Blood Pressure
Keeping your blood pressure under control is crucial to a healthy pregnancy. As such, you should visit your antenatal team throughout the duration of your pregnancy to monitor your levels. It’s also wise to make an appointment with the doctor who treats you for your high blood pressure prior to becoming pregnant. 1 Your specialist, who has treated your chronic illness for a period of time and knows about your history with the disorder, is the best candidate for determining how you should alter your treatment (if at all) to prepare for pregnancy. [avafootnote]
- National Health Service UK (2014 March 20). Long-term conditions and pregnancy. Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnant-chronic-health-condition.aspx#close ↩