Multiple Sclerosis & Pregnancy
Multiple Sclerosis is more common in women during child bearing years so the question about how safe it is to become pregnant with this autoimmune condition takes center stage for women with the disease. The consensus is that fertility rates equal that of women without MS and the risks to the infant remain about the same as for any pregnant woman. The differences come in the risk for exacerbation of multiple sclerosis symptoms after the delivery of the newborn. Many women experience an improvement in symptoms, but the symptoms of multiple sclerosis can still be difficult.
If I have multiple sclerosis before getting pregnant, should I stop certain treatments while trying to get pregnant?
Most research shows that the medications prescribed for MS symptoms should be stopped prior to getting pregnant. Of course each client is different but the medications and the treatment plan needs to be thoroughly discussed prior to making the decision to get pregnant.
What are some special considerations about treatment and symptom management while pregnant?
Discuss all medication with your doctor. Modifications in rest, exercise, and alcohol intake may be made in the overall management of symptoms. For many women, symptoms may improve over the course of the second and third trimesters. Medications for multiple sclerosis symptoms are not recommended during pregnancy, but may need to be resumed soon after delivery for the exacerbation that may occur.
I know my symptoms may be better during pregnancy, but they may still be difficult to manage. Are there any natural or homeopathic remedies that may help if I discontinue certain medications?
Discussing natural or homeopathic remedies with your doctor is an important part of managing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis during pregnancy. Warm baths, the use of a heating pad and positioning pillows may ease some of the muscle discomfort of MS symptoms and pregnancy along with rest, the use of a cane for support, or any external devices already in your personal artillery for fighting this condition. Some herbal and homeopathic remedies have been known to induce premature labor in some women.
As the weight of pregnancy increases, balance can be a problem. Learning what your limits are in regards to gait, stamina, and balance will help you guide your activities. A balanced diet with added fruits and vegetables and adequate fluid intake will assist with the problems of constipation that accompany pregnancy.
How can I prepare for the “return” to my pre-pregnancy symptoms (or worse) after my baby is born?
It will be important to not only have a birthing plan for the delivery, but to have an “after baby comes” plan for when you go home and for the next few weeks after delivery. MS symptoms may increase after delivery making you exhausted and unable to completely care for your infant alone. Have a plan for extra help during this time. Medications prescribed for multiple sclerosis symptoms may not be approved for breastfeeding. If you plan on breastfeeding, consult with your doctor.
Questions for your doctor:
- What treatments for MS can I continue during pregnancy?
- What medications are safe for pregnancy and for breastfeeding after the birth of my infant?
- What herbs, over the counter medications, or activities should I avoid during pregnancy?
- What challenges during pregnancy and delivery should I expect?
About the Author
Terri Forehand is a critical care nurse and freelance writer. She is the author The Cancer Prayer Book and a soon to be released picture book titled The ABC’s of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane. She writes from her home where she lives with her husband and an array of rescue dogs nestled in the hills of Brown County, Indiana.
This blog post was originally published by AutoimmuneMom.com, written by Terri Forehand, and first published on Jul 2, 2012.
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