Monday, August 31, 2015

Safe Medications During Pregnancy

This is the 3rd part to my series on pregnancy safety information.  Click here to see general information on pregnancy.  Click here to find out more about common discomforts of pregnancy. 

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Medications during pregnancy is a issue that is very difficult.  While there are always risks with everything you take, there are some medications that have a very high safety level.  There is always a potential for the baby to receive the medication when you take it, so it is important to avoid medications when possible.  But if you are completely miserable and need something to relieve discomforts, there are plenty of medications that are safe for your baby.  Many of these medications are commonly used during pregnancy.  Another thing to remember is as the pregnancy progresses, these medications have even less risk for the baby.  But always discuss medications with your health care provider.

Here are medications and other remedies that are considered safe to take during pregnancy.  I put them each under discomfort categories so that you can find one to take for different ailments.  I have included over-the-counter, prescription medications, and home remedies.

Common Cold:  
Sudafed (do not take if you have a history of high blood pressure and avoid Sudafed 12 hour)
Robitussin, Robitussin DM, Robitussin PE 
Tylenol Sinus
Tavist D
Dimetapp (not Dimetapp Cold and Allergy)
Cholraseptic (for a sore throat)
Saline nasal drops or spray
Warm salt/water gargle

Gas X

*Ask your healthcare provider before taking these in the first trimester.


Milk of Magnesia

Extra-strength Tylenol

Anusol Suppositories
Preparation H cream
Preparation H ointment
Tucks pads 
Kaopectate (liquid only)

Vitamin B6
Ginger root 

First Aid 
J&J First Aid Cream

Benadryl cream
Caladryl lotion or cream
Hydrocortisone cream or ointment
Aveeno oatmeal bath 

Monistat (for yeast infection)
Zithromax (for upper respiratory infections)
Macrobid (for urinary tract infection)
Gyne-lotrimin (for fungal/yeast infection) 
Thanks for stopping by!  My next post I will be sharing about my experience with pre-term labor and some guidelines for what to do if your experience it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Becoming a Mother, part 2

When you become pregnant, you expect the big belly, the battle of the stretch marks, and the glow, but you don't always realize how many other things can come with the growing of a baby.  There are so many changes to a woman's body when they conceive that it can become a little disconcerting to have so many odd symptoms pop up.  If you are a worrier, this can be an extremely anxious time for you.  However, if you know the physiological changes going on in your body, you can then understand why certain symptoms are showing up.  I believe many women struggle with the lack of control you have of your own body when you become pregnant.  But I think it helps to understand what is happening in the background.  Here I would like to summarize a few common discomforts pregnancy can bring and give a little physiology as to why this could be a symptom you experience.

Constipation can be caused by changes in the digestive tract due to hormones slowing the movement of food through the system.  The iron in prenatal vitamins can also cause constipation.  To avoid this discomfort, drink plenty of liquids and eat fruits and vegetables with a high fiber content.  It also helps to stay active and not to sit for long periods of time.

Hemorrhoids can be caused by strained bowel movements and from the extra pressure on the veins of the intestine from the uterus which is growing heavier as the pregnancy progresses.  This can make it difficult for these veins to drain.  Do not push hard during a bowel movement as this can cause even more pressure on those veins.  It also helps to try to avoid constipation in order to prevent hemorrhoids as well.  Drink lots of water!

Nausea and vomiting are symptoms that are also caused by hormonal and metabolic changes.  The cause of these symptoms are not completely understood, but tend to come with the increase of pregnancy hormones.  Before rising in the morning, eat crackers or something bland and do not get up too quickly.  It helps to sit at the side of the bed for a bit first.  Try to eat small meals every 3 hours and eat protein-rich food about an hour before going to bed at night.  Do not lay down right after eating.  Since your sense of smell is elevated, it also helps to avoid foods that trigger your nausea and eat foods cold or room temperature since aromas are stronger when hot.

Heartburn occurs when digested food from your stomach is pushed into your esophagus.  This can happen, again, because of hormonal changes in the digestive tract or because of pressure put on your stomach from your growing uterus.  Try eating smaller quantities of food, several times a day.  Avoid spicy and greasy foods, and try not to eat right before bed.  Sometimes sleeping with your head elevated by two or three pillows will help.

Fatigue occurs because your body is doing a lot of different things while pregnant, and hormone changes can leave you feeling exhausted.  My husband says, "Well, yeah, you're tired!  You're growing a person!"  It can also be caused by your sleep being interrupted by getting up during the night to use the bathroom and from feeling uncomfortable when trying to sleep.  It helps to try to get eight hours of sleep at night and to eat a balanced diet.  Take naps if you are able.

Headaches may occur because there is more blood in your body to share with the baby.  It may take some time for your body to adjust to this increase in blood volume.  Usually headaches go away after the first trimester.  If you experience headaches, take some acetaminophen and apply a warm or cold compress to your head or neck.  Try to find out what triggers the headache.  Dehydration, certain foods, stress, fatigue, excessive heat or cold, or tobacco smoke are some common triggers.

Frequent urination occurs because of hormone changes that have your kidneys working harder to filter out things in your blood stream, and because your blood volume increases, there is more fluid for your kidneys to filter into your bladder.  It also occurs because of the extra pressure on your bladder from your growing uterus.  Continue to drink plenty of water and do not resist the urge to urinate.

Stretch marks can result when your body grows faster than your skin can keep up with, and the elastic fibers just under the skin's surface break.  In pregnancy, it can happen on the abdomen, the sides, and on the breasts.  These brightly colored marks fade after pregnancy.  Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent these marks because they tend to be genetically determined, but keeping your skin moisturized and your body hydrated are good ways to keep away the itchiness that also happens with the stretching.

Varicose veins are swollen veins that bulge near the surface of the skin and appear blue or purple.  They are produced by the pressure of the uterus on the pelvic area, which makes circulation difficult during pregnancy.  Usually, they appear in the legs, but can also occur in the vulva area.  It can be painful or uncomfortable because blood is backed up in that area.  Move frequently to improve circulation and elevate your legs when possible.  Support stockings may also help you if this becomes a big problem.

Breathing can become difficult at times during pregnancy, especially towards the end.  This can happen as the baby grows larger and takes up more space in the abdomen.  There is less space for your lungs to expand.  Breathe deeply several times a day to ease discomfort.  Sleeping propped up on pillows may help at night.

Backaches can occur as the body's weight increases and its center of gravity moves forward.  The natural curves of the spine become much more pronounced.  This can occur as early as the end of the first trimester.  To help prevent strain, wear low-heeled supportive shoes.  There are also maternity girdles and other supportive clothing that can be purchased.  Make sure that any supportive clothing used is not binding.

Swelling can occur due to retention of water in the tissues of your body.  Mild swelling is related to the normal and necessary increase in body fluids in pregnancy and the difficulty of circulation of the lower extremities.  Some swelling of the ankles and legs is considered completely normal.  Swelling of the hands and face can be signs of blood pressure issues, however.  Try to elevate your legs whenever possible and avoid binding clothing and jewelry.

That is all I have for tonight!  If you have any questions or ideas for me to write about, please comment below.  Also, stay tuned for more about safe medications during pregnancy and a word from my friend about bringing home a new baby to a family of many small children.  I'm looking forward to hearing her tips and advice for that time in life!  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Becoming a Mother, Part 1

There are so many questions around pregnancy and then there are even more questions once the baby comes.  I started thinking about this subject a few months ago when I started receiving questions from my sister, who is pregnant with her first baby.  There is so much information thrown at pregnant women these days from information given at the doctor's office to information found (or should I say stumbled upon) on the internet to unsolicited advice from seasoned mothers.  How does one sift through it all and know what is true?  

I was going through papers I came across while unpacking boxes in our new house and found some information packets given to me when I was pregnant with my second baby.  Because it was my second, and I was too busy chasing around my 2 year old and traveling around the world, I didn't actually read the information.  I had decided I would send some of it on to my sister who would appreciate good information.  But as I read it, I realized that a lot of the information was either a little off or completely wrong.  They were just information sheets the Japanese nurse had typed up to hand out to all the obstetrics patients seeing her at the Navy base clinic where I was being seen the first half of my pregnancy.  

I decided then and there that I would type up my own information based on my experience and on my research on the subject.  I typed up some basic information for the first sheet to send to my sister, and then decided that I should make up a whole packet and share it on the internet.  I am not sure if I am just adding to the problem of information overload for these women, but I want to make sure there is good information out there for those who would trust a registered nurse with two babies of her own.  This is the latest information and research I could find, and there really is ongoing research and new information coming out all the time. 

40 Weeks of Pregnancy: General Guidelines to Get Started

Normal Discomforts 
  • Constipation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Urinary frequency
  • Stretch marks
  • Varicose veins
  • Strenuous breathing
  • Backaches
  • Swelling in lower extremities 
 Over-the-counter Medications to Avoid (unless approved by your doctor) 
  • Aspirin
  • Motrin/ibuprofen
  • Aleve/naproxen
  • Dayquil/phenylephrine
  • Nyquil/doxylamine
  • Pepto-Bismol/bismuth subsalicylate
Over-the-counter Medications that are Safe (unless contraindicated by your doctor):
  • Tylenol/acetaminophen  
  • Sudafed/pseudoephedrine
  • Robitussin DM/dextromethorphan and guaifenesin
  • Mylanta/aluminum and magnesium antacid 
  • Tums/calcium carbinate
*If unsure, ask your doctor for approval of medications.
  • Try to minimize caffeine consumption to 1-2 servings a day (up to 1 cup of coffee).
  • Avoid x-rays unless your doctor finds it absolutely necessary.
  • Normal weight gain during pregnancy is 25-25 lbs.
  • Regular exercise is recommended.  Do not lift more than 20-25 lbs.  Brisk walking, swimming, and stationary bicycling are recommended forms of exercise.  You may continue whatever form of exercise prior to pregnancy.
Contact Your Doctor If:
  • You have vaginal bleeding that looks like a period.
  • You have severe abdominal pain or cramping.
  • You have a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit not lowered by Tylenol/acetaminophen.

*This is just the very first and basic information pregnant women should receive.  Please use this information as a reference.  Stay tuned for part 2 with more pregnancy information and some advice from a friend who has 4 children and lots of good experience.