Woman with morning sickness using a vest for airway clearance and looking nauseated.

Dealing With The First Trimester of Pregnancy With CF

Last updated: June 2021

The first trimester, or the first 13 weeks, of pregnancy can be a really difficult time for a lot of moms-to-be. Morning sickness, fatigue, headaches, food aversions, etc. - the list of unfortunate symptoms goes on and on. Even with all the excitement, the first trimester can really knock you down off your feet.

In addition, having cystic fibrosis while managing the early weeks of pregnancy and its symptoms can make things for a lot of women a bit different. My personal experience dealing with the first trimester of my second pregnancy may be different than others. Pregnancy is so specific to the individual but it’s always helpful to read about others’ experiences in the face of a difficult season of life.

CFRD goes mad in early pregnancy

Right off the bat, cystic fibrosis-related diabetes made its presence known in my second pregnancy. Due to the increase in hormones, my blood sugars were very erratic, up and down, left and right, every which way even with my normal insulin regimen. Typically, my CFRD is very controlled and I am very sensitive to insulin, but all that goes out the window at the first sight of a positive pregnancy test.

It’s absolutely vital to maintain tight control of blood sugars in early pregnancy while the baby is forming and developing. Higher blood glucose levels can cause birth defects in early pregnancy and “macrosomia” or large babies later which can lead to complications.1 A high-risk ob-gyn can help women with CF manage their diabetes throughout pregnancy to keep both mom and baby as healthy as possible.

Morning sickness and airway clearance is tricky

Imagine being nauseated bright and early in the morning and then strapping on a vest that shakes your entire body. Doesn’t sound all that appealing, does it? In my experience, it’s not the easiest thing to do especially in the grips of morning sickness. All the coughing and spitting acts as another trigger to the main event you are desperately trying to hold back.

Thankfully, morning sickness doesn’t last forever because airway clearance is so important throughout pregnancy. In my experience, I try to wait until I have eaten something and I can gauge how I’m feeling that day before I jump straight on my treatments. In the end, this too shall pass (and we will celebrate)!

Shortness of breath from early pregnancy

There’s a strange phenomena in early pregnancy that takes your breath away, quite literally.

It’s not CF or your growing belly that makes you short of breath, but the rise in the hormone progesterone.2 It can feel as if you’re facing a CF exacerbation at the sudden difficulty of breathing, but it is a fairly common experience in early pregnancy. I have had to ask myself a couple of times in the past few months, are my lungs feeling worse, or do I think this is my hormones? It can be quite tricky to tell but, as I said before, this too shall pass. (And then come back in full force at the end of pregnancy.)

How did you handle the difficult symptoms of pregnancy with cystic fibrosis? Share your experience and connect with others in our forums.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Cystic-Fibrosis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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