DR FLO: I’m pregnant at the wrong time. Now what?


I want to get rid of the pregnancy in a medical way.

Wednesday March 18 2020

Dr Flo, I know that being pregnant brings joy, but when a woman has an unplanned pregnancy, she experiences stress and anxiety. I am pregnant and still pursuing my degree. I want to get rid of the pregnancy in a medical way (not the other way). What can I do? Anon

Dear Anon,

In Kenya, it is illegal to procure an abortion on demand, with legal ramifications both for the person procuring the abortion and the person assisting them.

The only exception is in case of an emergency or when the health and life of the mother is at risk.

You can get psychological support to manage the anxiety and other issues associated with the pregnancy. There is also the provision to give up the baby soon after birth through hospital social workers.


Dr Flo, I have been a picky eater since childhood. I was a bit chubby during childhood, but now I am thin (my BMI is less than 18). I hate my thin arms and legs and the way bones jut out of my body at my neck, chest and waist. I don't have curves like people my age (I'm 30). I don't have children and some-one told me that I need to be over 50 kilogrammes for a safe pregnancy. Taking appetite-boosting syrup and vitamin tablets doesn't help. What can I do to get a normal appetite and to gain weight so that I can look my age? Is there hope for me or am I stuck with this thin body for life? Agnes

Dear Agnes,

Normal BMI is 18 to 25. Whereas some people add or lose weight easily depending on diet and prevailing circumstances, others do not change their weight easily. This is mostly due to genetics, which unfortunately cannot be changed. It is actually healthier to have a body weight that does not fluctuate much. As you grow older, it will become easier to add weight as your metabolism slows down. The notion that to be healthy you have to be “fat” is not right.

If your weight is consistent at a healthy level, and you do not have any other health concerns like getting sick frequently, then there is no cause for alarm.

Focus on eating a balanced diet, take frequent small meals, exercise and avoid unhealthy practices like smoking or taking too much alcohol.

While it is advisable to get pregnant while at a healthy BMI, this should not keep you from getting pregnant currently, since the low weight has been present for a long time.

As long as you eat healthy during pregnancy and get any supplements you may require along the way, and do not have any other concerns, there should be no issues.


Dr Flo, my father is 65. A few days ago, he got breathing problems at 1am. He couldn’t breathe through his nose or mouth, but after eight minutes he was okay. He had the same problem two months ago. What’s the problem and how can we deal with it? Alex

Dear Alex,

Difficulty breathing when the upper airway is open (nose and mouth) is a serious concern because it means either the lungs or the heart have a problem.

It could be due to constriction of the airways in the lungs, like what happens with bronchitis, emphysema or asthma. It could also be due to a clot in the major blood vessels around the lungs or due to a heart problem. In some people, breathing difficulties happen during a panic attack.

Since most of these causes are serious health concerns, it is advisable to take your father to see a doctor urgently, so that he can be examined. This will include a physical examination, chest x-ray, ECG (electrocardiogram), blood tests and any other tests as needed. The treatment will depend on the specific cause.


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