23 weeks Pregnant and problem at work!


I am currently 23 weeks pregnant with my first child. I have had chronic brittle atopic asthma with a extremely high IgE level and very low tolerance to histamine since I was 1 (so 25 years!). I also have a degree in anatomy and physiology. I have been well controlled since 2001 with ceterizine, montelukast, bambuterol, qvar daily plus nebs, pred and antibiotics when needed. When I got pregnant I saw my GP within a week of discovering, during which time I was compliant with all my medications and was in A&E with a bad attack. The GP explained that my asthma was far too severe for any of my meds to be removed and the most important thing was for me to be compliant throughout the pregnancy as uncontrolled asthma was worse for me and the baby. He also explained that at present we do not have enough data on the effect of bambuterol or montelukast during pregnancy. Hence I have been religious (even more than usual) about making sure I take my meds. Even when I was being really bad with morning sickness, the GP gave me injections to make sure I could take my medications.

Early in September, I had a chest infection for which I needed regular nebs, was admitted to hospital for several hours and a ten day course of antibiotics. As the infection began to ease I found that my inhaler was able to releive some of the wheeze, hence I used my inhaler rather than the neb. My General Manager saw me taking my inhaler at work and said ""what is that?"" I replied ""My inhaler, I am wheezy"" He then said as he walked out of the room ""You shouldn't be taking that, you are pregnant. I thought you were intelligent, some mother you are going to be!""

Not long after that, I started experiencing palpitations and tachycardia, which I thought was initially stress. When it had lasted a few days, I went to the midwife unit to ask if it was just a normal pregnancy thing or should I see the GP. They advised I was to see the GP that afternoon so I went along to the appointment with the duty doctor. In the meantime I thought it might be the bambuterol as I had had similar symptoms when I first went on it. She agreed that it could be as there was a note in the BNF about it. She recommended seeing if we could stop it for Fri, Sat and Sun then I would see her on Monday to see if I had managed. After a discussion over the extra monitoring I should do and a check over, we decided to go through with it.

On the Friday, before I was due to take the medication, I went to see my immediate manager at work as I was due to work sat and sun. I explained that we needed to see if the drug was causing this and the only way was to stop it. They have never seen me get really bad as my regime keeps me well so I explained everything to her and then we called the General Manager through to explain it to him. I explained, I may need to stop and rest when walking around. I would get very bad but he must follow my instructions. He said, you won't get that bad. I said, yes I will and if I tell you to call an ambulance you must. I also explained that I would have my nebuliser with me and everything I needed. He said well lets put you off and you can stay at home then. I said that was no good as we needed to see how removal of the drug would impact my daily life and sitting in bed was not my normal routine. Then he started saying you shouldn't be taking drugs, I tried to explain that I have no choice, either I take the drugs and both me and the baby will be ok or I don't and we both die. Then he started moaning that why were they being so stupid as to put me on a new drug when pregnant, they were using me as a guinea pig. I re-iterated that I have been on it three years now. In the end he seemed to understand, or so I thought. I asked he pass this all on to the ops manager but I wanted it kept confidential. The ops manager said the next morning at work why are you taking drugs? My daughter was only allowed paracetamol when pregnant. I explained it would be like taking a diabetic or schizophrenic off their meds. She did understand but I knew the Gm doesn't.

I had three days of hell and was put back on the bambuterol by the GP at half dose, which was increased to the full dose again after four days as I was still not completely well. I have since seen the resp specialist in Inverness who agrees that substituting bambuterol for nebs is stupid so stay on the bambuterol as it is the lesser of two evils. At least I will be controlled and minimising the risk of low sats.

Since then the GM has continued to make little remarks about me taking my pills, which is beginning to really upset me. I feel like a terrible mother already as I am taking these meds which we don't know enough about, I might pass on the asthma to the little one, I can't breastfeed because of the meds, basically I feel that my body isn't giving the baby the best start and this person is making me feel a million times worse. My wonderful husband is being really supportive and I manage to deal with everything, then the GM starts and I'm back feeling like crap instead of being able to enjoy the pregnancy. I've spoken to the personnel manager informally but wondered if anyone has any other suggestions as I know he is just joking but it is too close to home at the moment.

Sorry for the long post

Ness x

7 Replies

  • DrewNess,sorry to here you are having a bad time of things,try not get stressed out,you will make a lovely mum and as everyone learns as we go along if its your first child.

    Dont feel bad about any meds you are on you need them and if your GP is happy then you should be.

    Pregnancy is the best feeling in the world and give your self lots of time to rest and pamper yourself and nice treats.Enjoy your pregnancy and a lovely happy future with your little bundle of joy xxx

  • Hello Drewness

    I was actually diagnosed with Asthma when I was 24 weeks pregnant with my older son (now nearly 18). I didn't realise that I was having quite a bad attack and remember a lot of nebulisers, oral steriods and subsequent preventer/reliever inhalers. He came out hale and hearty after an otherwise uneventlful pregnancy. Your bosses unwanted comments are extremely unhelpful. All I can say is your doctors know you best and have both your interests at heart. Try and relax and enjoy this time. Expecting for the first time is very special and unrepeatable time in any woman's life.

    Keep well


  • Hi Drewness,

    My asthma got worse when I was 30 weeks pregnant and I had to up my dose. It was either that or the baby wouldn't get enough oxygen. He came out as strong as an ox and nearly 8 years later he has been one of the healthiest boys around, fingers crossed! Don't listen to those people, I'm sure you'll be a wonderful mum.

    Unfortunately after the birth things went from bad to worse for me with my asthma and developed other conditions because of this, I would have loved another baby but my body wouldn't take it, but I wouldn't change having my son for anything in the world.

    Hope you feel a bit better soon,

    Keep well

    Helen xxxxxx

  • Hi Ness,

    Sorry to hear you're having a tough time at work... I actually got quite annoyed on your behalf whilst reading your post, bless you! Your GM is jolly lucky that you havent taken it any further, joke or no joke, its completely inappropriate that he makes these snide remarks to you. Regardless of whether he is joking, its a hormonal rollercoaster of a time anyway, when you're naturally feeling more sensitive and I imagine yr own concerns about taking medication exacerbates that!!!!!

    I can imagine you dont want to make too much fuss about it and upset your working life and therefore asthma further or I would suggest you make yr ""informal chat"" an informal grievance.

    Is there an occupational health department where you work that you could discuss this with? They would then be able to liaise with your manager and perhaps educate him a bit? Or let yr immediate manager know that he is less than empathetic and ask her advice on taking it further (gotta be sure she doesnt go straight to him though!!!)Can you discuss it through with a union rep?

    At the end of the day its bullying/harrassment behaviour and is clearly upsetting you... Whether it is intended to be so or not, if it is affecting you then it is... If you take a step back and imagine a friend reiterating those events to you, would you not tell her the same? The most important person is you and yr baby and you are doing everything you have been medically advised to do, so please dont berate yourself...remember there are healthy babies born to mothers who take all kinds of pharmaceuticals during pregnancy....best that he's born to a mum who's healthy enough to look after him when he gets here eh !

    Take care and good luck :)

  • I can really sympathise with you - I too am having a bad time at work, getting the 'reasonable adjustments' I need to help minimise my asthma probs is an up-hill struggle.

    I got asked if was sure I wasn't 'just having panic attacks' the other week!?!

    My asthma has got much worse over the last few years and it has made me realise how tough things are for people with long term health problems and disabilities.

    I've realised I've got to stand my ground without losing my cool. I've been advised by my GP, asthma nurse and Occ Health that some people will never take on board what I tell them and I must let stupid comments go over my head.

    I no longer let things at work stress me out as I know this will aggravate my condition and you must try and do the same. I just think of the day my wage goes in the bank and focus on the positive people around me - like you I am lucky to have a supportive partner.

    I was told to get in touch with ACAS for advice and they gave me a helpline tel no for my local DDA advice centre, if you feel things are getting really bad have a chat with them.

    From what I read you're being a great mum to be - seeking and following medical advice given to help you with your pregnancy (what does your GM know!!)

    All the best!

  • I too have brittle + atopic asthma and am currently 9 weeks pregnant with my 2nd baby.

    Until my first pregnancy I had been taking montelukast for 8 years (or more I'm not sure) and I was weaned off this as my asthma improved during pregnancy. I did also have hyperemis in my first pregnancy (severe sickness) that was controlled with anit-sickness drugs mainly to avoid dehydration but also to kep my meds down.

    A few months after my baby arrived (safely) my asthma worsened drastically and became very hard to control and I had to stop breastfeeding in order to restart montelukast, Theophyline and prednisolone to get things under control. My IgE levels were sky high (I was being considered for anti-IgE therapy but my levels are too high for a safe dose.) I was also advised not to get pregnant until things were controlled.

    After a lot of trial and error, patience and understanding from an amazing consultant and a bit of good luck I was able to get pregnant again.

    Sadly this time my asthma and ezcema seem to be getting worse rather than better. I decided somewhat stubbornly to come off theophyline prior to conceiving as I was worried about the effects this could have on baby as I suffer side effects while taking it.

    I get the odd comment about 'should you take that while pregnant/breatfeeding?' too and have been fairly blunt + to the point with my responses.

    I feel most of the people who ask these questions view asthma as a relatively mild condition and will have never witnessed an asthmatic having a severe attack.

    Those that have seen my asthma at its worst and most dangerous know and understand how difficult and important it is to keep my asthma as controlled as possible, espically during pregnancy.

    I wish you every bit of luck with the rest of your pregnancy and hope that your manager can stop adding to your stress and worries. You are doing the right thing in taking the drugs you need to control.

    Send me a private message if you'd like a chat.

  • Thank you all for the messages, I did speak with my personnel manager again saying that I was getting quite upset and annoyed about it all. Since then it has stopped!!

    Two people have quit with no notice in the last two weeks leaving just me to hold the fort in my department until my office manager returns from holiday so am doing 10-12 hour shifts. My GP and midwife have said I must finish two weeks earlier than planned because of this and because my asthma is beginning to flare up and my eczema, which I haven't had a flare up of in a few years now!! Dr has also said that I must spend one hour midway through the day on my left side to reliev strain on my heart and lungs. So my manager has now made arrangements for me to spend one hour while at work in a bedroom upstairs without being asked!! I think we may have solved the problem thank goodness :)

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