It used to be that a woman with lupus was told that she could not have a successful pregnancy. That was twenty some years ago. Today with managed, competent medical supervision, a woman can successful conceive and bear a healthy baby. A pregnant woman with lupus will be considered a high-risk pregnancy. She will see a doctor more often than a woman without a special condition such as lupus. It is important for the woman to follow some important health tips for having a successful pregnancy:
Healthy Pregnancy Is Possible for Women with Lupus
- Plan to conceive when in remission for at least 6 months. Becoming pregnant while your disease is in a active state could end in miscarriage
- Get your body in optimal physical shape
- Prepare yourself emotionally and mentally for the pains that are sure to accompany you on your pregnancy journey. Joints loosen during pregnancy and since joints are already affected by lupus, you may experience more pain or swelling.
- Plan to take time off work so that you can get plenty of rest or make other sacrifices in order to put the needs of your body first
- Put together a support team. Use this team to uplift you when you are feeling down, or to lend a hand with baby preparation for the times when fatigue hits you Lupus flares can happen during pregnancy because of the fluctuating and ever present pregnancy hormones. Be prepared for symptoms to increase.
Keep a pregnancy journal of your symptoms, their duration and intensity. Share this journal with your doctor. Understanding how pregnancy is affecting your disease is important for you and for your doctor.
Pregnancy Complications to Prepare For:
Premature labor is common for the pregnant lupus patient. Preparing yourself for this likelihood by reading books about preemies can help you to cope, if this becomes a reality.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is another reality. Your doctor will check your blood pressure at every visit. If your doctor prescribes any medication for high blood pressure it is important to take it as directed. Besides a high reading on the BP cuff, another clue for hypertension is protein in the urine. Pregnancy induced hypertension (a serious condition) is usually treated by prompt delivery of the infant.
10% of lupus pregnancies end in still birth or miscarriage. Your pregnancy will be closely monitored. You will receive frequent sonograms and your babys heartbeat will be regularly checked at appointments.
Concerns for Baby:
The risk is greater for a miscarriage during the 2nd trimester. Lupus puts the woman at greater risk for blood clotting issues. 3% of all babies born to mothers with lupus will be born with Neonatal lupus. This disappears by the time the infant is 3 to 6 months of age. Half of all babies born with Neonatal Lupus have heart defects.
Pamper Yourself During Pregnancy
Keep all of your scheduled appointments
Make sure you get lots of sleep at night and rest during the day.
Eating nutritious meals and watching not to overeat and help keep you at the desired pregnancy weight.
Take all mediations as prescribed.
Do not smoke, or drink alcoholic beverages
Understand that some of the bodily changes that are normal during pregnancy mimic lupus flare-ups.