Many people might start off their first pregnancy blog with a story: why they decided to have a baby (or not), the story of how they became pregnant, their early thoughts on pregnancy and childbirth. I might get to all of that, or I might not. But today I want to share one of the most important things I learned in my first month of pregnancy: do not go off any medication without talking to your doctor first.
This might seem silly or obvious, but I cannot stress how important it is. My whole first trimester might have taken a different turn, and I certainly would have had a less miserable Christmas (I was so sick, and we had so much traveling to do), if I’d just thought of this one thing. Yes, any medication- or lifestyle-related changes you might make during the course of your pregnancy should be run past your doctor, but that’s usually about what new things you start doing. It seems like common sense that we should be extra careful with medication in our first trimester, and that it’s nothing but a wise decision to stop taking it. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
A little background: I have gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD, a condition I treat with medication. The point of my meds, in this case Protonix, is to get me to a point where I don’t need to take them anymore. I might be off of them for years, and then need to go back on for a little while. I saw a gastroenterologist and had an endoscopy last year, and went back on my meds. I found out I was pregnant at around the time I needed to start weaning off the meds anyway, so I made an executive decision and stopped taking them cold turkey.
Two days later chaos descended. At least that’s how it felt in my insides. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep; most of the time the indigestion was so terrible I couldn’t do much but sit there feeling awful, and when that subsided, it was replaced by nausea. I spent the day calling my GI to no reply, until finally my primary care doctor saved me and called in a medication she assured me I’d be allowed to take.
I could have spared all of this pain if I’d just called either one of my doctors before stopping the Protonix. Better still, I could have called my GI – or asked my doctor when I’d seen her just a few months before – in advance and asked them what they thought about taking those meds while trying to get pregnant.
In pregnancy, it’s important that we be as informed as possible about what’s going on with our bodies, and what’s going into and out of our bodies. We will have to make many important decisions ourselves. At the end, that’s what I was left with: my doctors gave me their best advice (in my GI’s case, both as a medical professional and as a human being, which was awesome and I wanted him to be my OB), and I chose what to do with it.
I just wish I had done that from the beginning.
*(The above image by Ohmega1982 is from freedigitalphotos.net).