By Nico Strydom
Pregnancy is supposed to be a wonderful experience for the prospective mother and her loved ones, but for women suffering from a chronic condition and then falling pregnant, it can become a time of anxiety and discomfort.
A chronic health condition is a condition that occurs for a long period, requires continuous medical care and that can have an influence on a person’s functioning. Examples of chronic health conditions include, among others, diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, heart conditions or a mental disorder such as depression or bipolarity.
However, Dr. Agnes Tisane, a gynaecologist at the Melomed hospital group, says the stress or anxiety accompanying a chronic health condition and pregnancy can be avoided. “With the correct professional medical advice and interventions the pregnancy and birth can continue normally and any risks to mom and baby be restricted to the minimum.”
Pregnancy can also exacerbate certain chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, which can lead to preeclampsia. “If you decide to become pregnant and suffer from any chronic condition, it is vital to obtain professional medical advice as early as possible.
“This will mean that you and your partner will benefit from the support and care of a team of specialists and obtain access to services such as preconception counselling, assessment of medication and monitoring of the chronic condition as the pregnancy progresses.”
Chronic health conditions can heighten the risk of infertility and certain complications during pregnancy, such as premature birth, birth defects or a miscarriage or still birth. It is therefore essential that you inform your health care providers ahead of time of your intention to fall pregnant so that the necessary planning can be done.
Also to be looked at, is the treatment that you usually receive for the condition, including medication, as this can have an influence on the pregnancy. It has to be established whether the treatment during pregnancy will be safe for you and your baby. You should therefore not terminate, start using or change medication, as it could lead to serious health problems.
According to Tisane, most important is to contact a professional person with all your questions and concerns. “Sometimes an anxious prospective mother, family member or friend will surf the internet for information about possible complications of chronic conditions during pregnancy and find hair-raising scenarios that can create unnecessary panic.”
It is also of extreme importance to still take care of your health and chronic health condition after your pregnancy by making sure that your treatment is adjusted accordingly and to be on the lookout for any warning signs that you aren’t well.
March of Dimes: https://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/chronic-health-conditions-and-pregnancy.aspx#