Ed, Allergies, Acupuncture and Pregnancy

11.03.11 Alternatives that work.


Ben and Jill’s first “baby” was a Bullmastiff puppy named, “Ed,” who they picked up at the Humane Society on their first wedding anniversary. They felt ready to start a family, but not quite ready to start a baby. Jill wasn’t convinced she wanted a puppy that would grow to be bigger than her, but Ben fell in love with Ed’s huge paws and liquid brown eyes and since Jill was in love with Ben...well, you get the picture.

Right away, Ed knew whose heart he needed to melt and followed Jill around like a lovesick puppy. So did Ben. It didn’t take Jill long to realize she had two strong dedicated males devoted to her and she was glad she’d agreed to be Ed’s Mama.

About six months after they brought Ed home, Jill discovered she was pregnant. Jill thinks Ed actually knew about the baby before she did. He sniffed her lap area, looked at her suspiciously, then went to his bed and picked up his security blanket (the raggedy old towel he slept with). He brought it to Jill and pushed it onto her lap with his nose until she was all tucked in. Then he plopped down beside her, dropped his head onto Jill’s towel-covered lap and gazed lovingly into her eyes. For the rest of the day, wherever Jill went, Ed and his towel went too. He tucked her in at the stove, her computer and even out in the garden, wedging his towel as close to Jill as possible. Clearly, Ed thought Jill needed security and he was determined to provide it. The next day, Jill’s pregnancy test turned up positive.

Ed stayed by Jill’s side every time she threw up during the first few months of her pregnancy. He slept next to her while she napped and took her for walks every morning and night. Just about the time that Jill’s nausea abated, she started getting itchy, watery eyes, a drippy nose and pounding sinus headaches. Her obstetrician said she had allergies, probably made worse by pregnancy hormones. He said she shouldn’t take anything to treat her symptoms until after her first trimester and then, should take as little as possible. He said Claritin would probably be OK if Jill was really miserable, but it would be better if she could avoid her allergy triggers.

Jill had never had allergies before and didn’t know what triggered her symptoms. Her doctor said the usual suspects were flowers, weeds, pollens, dust and pets. Jill decided she’d give up gardening and Ben said he’d be vigilant with the dust rag and vacuum. Nobody mentioned Ed.

As her pregnancy progressed, so did Ed’s devotion and every time he tucked Jill in or sank onto the couch next to her, her ears itched and her nose ran. Jill didn’t want to take antihistamines and asked her doctor what else she could do. He recommended she find somewhere else for Ed to live, just until she wasn’t pregnant anymore. He also mentioned offhandedly that some patients had success treating their allergies with a Neti pot and acupuncture. Jill was skeptical about alternative health practices, but getting rid of Ed wasn’t an option, so she decided it was worth a try.

With the Neti pot (like a small teapot) filled with warm diluted salt water, Jill tipped her head and poured the saline into one nostril until he flowed out the other one. It was messy and gross, but Jill diligently irrigated her sinuses several times per day and noticed it worked. Her sinuses were less congested and the itching in her throat and ears went away, at least temporarily. Since the Neti pot was such a big help, Jill decided to try acupuncture too.

Her doctor recommended an acupuncturist who looked at Jill’s tongue, checked her pulse in several different areas and listened to her health history and the story of her allergies. Jill rested on the treatment bed with pillows propped under one hip so she wasn’t flat on her back. Jill was pleasantly surprised the sterile acupuncture needles didn’t hurt. One or two stung a little, but only for a second and nowhere near as much as a shot or blood test. Her acupuncturist left the needles in place for about half an hour while Jill closed her eyes and listened to quiet music. After the needles were removed, Jill went home. Ed, of course, greeted her with his ragged old towel, ready to tuck her in. Jill waited for the itchy eyes, runny nose and pounding sinus pressure, but they never arrived. Her allergies were gone. She returned to the acupuncturist several times during her pregnancy and never experienced another sniffle.

When Jill brought her baby home from the hospital, Ed was no longer a puppy, but still wasn’t fully grown. He weighed 125 pounds and as he looked suspiciously at the bundle in Jill’s lap, Jill worried he’d be jealous. Ed sniffed the baby from head to diaper, then picked up his towel and tucked Jill and the baby in. The only sniffle came from Ben as he wiped away tears and snuggled onto the couch with Jill, Ed and Annie.

Jeanne Faulkner, R.N., lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and five children. Got a question for Jeanne? E-mail it to labornurse@fitpregnancy.com and it may be answered in a future blog post."¨"¨

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