June 14, 2024

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a health condition characterised by breathing difficulties and reduced lung function but while managing COPD can be challenging in itself, dealing with it during pregnancy adds a new level of complexity. Women with COPD may experience worsened symptoms as their growing belly presses against the diaphragm and reduces lung capacity.

Expert tips to manage COPD during pregnancy (Image by kalhh from Pixabay )
Expert tips to manage COPD during pregnancy (Image by kalhh from Pixabay )

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Preethika Shetty, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Motherhood Hospitals in Kharadi, explained, “Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect the airways and cause inflammation, making it even more difficult to breathe. The impact of COPD in pregnancy goes beyond just physical challenges and can also have emotional implications for expectant mothers.”

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She added, “The fear of not being able to adequately providing oxygen for both themselves and their unborn child can lead to increased anxiety and stress levels. Moreover, the strain that COPD puts on one’s body may increase the risk of complications such as preterm labor or low birth weight. It is crucial for pregnant women with COPD to work closely with their doctors to develop a comprehensive care plan that ensures both maternal well-being and foetal health.”

COPD management during pregnancy:

Dr Preethika Shetty revealed, “One of the key aspects of treating COPD during pregnancy is medication management. It’s important for women with COPD to continue taking their prescribed medications, as stopping or changing them without medical guidance can be harmful. Certain medications may need to be adjusted or changed during pregnancy to ensure safety, so it’s vital for pregnant women with COPD to work closely with their healthcare team. In addition to medication management, lifestyle modifications can also play a crucial role in managing COPD during pregnancy. Quitting smoking is essential for both the expectant mother and her baby. Avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke and other airborne irritants is equally important in minimizing symptoms and maintaining good lung function.”

She advised, “Implementing regular exercise tailored to individual capabilities can help improve cardiovascular fitness and lung capacity, thus assisting in managing symptoms associated with COPD. Try to do deep breathing exercises and relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and exercise becomes even more crucial during pregnancy with COPD. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables can help boost immune function and provide essential vitamins for both you and your baby. Engaging in gentle exercises like walking or prenatal yoga can improve breathing capacity while keeping you active. Throughout this journey, it’s important not to underestimate the power of emotional support as well. Seek out counseling or support groups specifically geared towards pregnant women living with COPD. Remember that you’re not alone in this experience and there are others going through similar challenges who can provide encouragement and valuable insights.”

By following an integrated treatment plan comprising appropriate medication use and lifestyle adjustments under the expert’s guidance, women living with COPD can navigate through their pregnancies safely.

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