Autoimmune Motherhood at a Glance
Women living with a chronic inflammatory disease face unique challenges. Here are some tips and information to keep in mind as you and your doctor navigate living with your condition and planning for your family - before, during and after pregnancy.
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According to a recent survey, well over a third (44% in the US, 40% in the EU) of women had concerns serious enough to lead them to delay their plans for pregnancy. Talking to your healthcare professional early on in the family planning process can help ease any worries you may have.1
- N. Thyssen, M. Geens, C. Jauquet, E. Van den Eeckhart. “WoCBA Patient Survey Raw Data”. Questionnaire. 16 Nov 2017.
Only about half of women (41% in the US; 50% in the EU) consulted a doctor before becoming pregnant, but discussing your pregnancy plan with your healthcare team – whether that be your primary care physician, rheumatologist, OB/GYN, midwife, etc. - early on is important to ensure you fully understand all of your options before making any decisions.1
Before you attend your appointments, it’s a good idea to make a note of any questions you want to ask your healthcare team. Possible questions may include:
- Are there any specific screenings or prenatal tests that I need because of my condition?
- Are there any risks to me or my baby if I get pregnant?
- What are the chances of me passing my condition on to my baby?
- Will I be able to carry my baby to full term?
- What should I consider for managing my condition during this journey?
It is important to plan for the possibility of flares during pregnancy and after birth by inquiring about options for managing your condition, making lifestyle adjustments if necessary and discussing your needs with your healthcare team and your support system.2,3
- Ostensen M, et al. Ann Rheum Dis 2006l63:1212-7.
- van den Brandt S, et al. Arthritis Res Ther 2017;19:64/ doi:10.1186/s/13075-017-1269-1.
You will need the same check-ups as any other pregnant woman. However, you may need extra depending on your symptoms. It is therefore important to monitor your symptoms during pregnancy and be aware of any changes. Always talk to your doctor about changes in your symptoms.
If you or anyone in your healthcare team feels your symptoms are worsening, do not hesitate to call your doctor right away.
Birth and After
Talk to your doctor about breastfeeding and how it may benefit you and your baby. Together, you can align on a plan that works for you.
Looking after a newborn baby can be very demanding, especially if you are living with a chronic inflammatory disease. You may feel tired managing both your symptoms and the demands of your newborn, and there is also the possibility that you will experience flares in your symptoms.
Make sure you ask for guidance from your healthcare team and for extra support from social services, physical therapists or occupational therapists who can give you advice to make holding, dressing, washing and feeding your baby easier.