Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis And Pregnancy Risks
If you have rheumatoid arthritis and intend on trying to become pregnant within the next few months, then it is in your best interest to speak with a pregnancy counseling specialist both before and after you become pregnant. This type of professional, along with your OBGYN, can help to prepare you for your high risk pregnancy. There are many things that you will likely need to do when you are pregnant to ensure the health of yourself and your unborn child. Keep reading to learn about a few of these things so you are well prepared.
Most individuals with rheumatoid arthritis will need to take a variety of medications to control the disease. Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs are prescribed to help reduce your body's inflammatory immune response. Biologic response modifiers may be provided as well to modify just the part of the immune system that causes swelling. Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are likely to be given to you, and so are NSAID pain relievers. Unfortunately, many of the prescription medications that help to keep you well can cause birth defects. This means that you will likely be asked to stop taking some of your medications before you become pregnant or during your first trimester. Leflunomide, cyclophosphamide, and methotrexate are three examples of common medicines prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis that can cause issues during pregnancy.
You should understand that NSAID pain relievers can cause problems during your pregnancy too. Uncontrolled bleeding, reduction in amniotic fluid, and complications with medicines provided during delivery are issues that can present if you take NSAID pain relievers. However, these specific problems occur in the third trimester, so you should be able to take the pain relievers up until this point.
Since medication must be eliminated or reduced significantly during pregnancy, your doctor and pregnancy counselor will likely inform you that it is wise to consider becoming pregnant when your rheumatoid arthritis is in remission or when you are free of symptoms for several months at a time.
Regular Infection Testing
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, then you are more likely to deliver a child preterm, and this child is likely to have a low birth weight. This means that your physician will likely watch your weight carefully to make sure it is increasing normally to ensure that your child retains a high and consistent weight throughout the pregnancy. Also, your doctor will ask you to do things like stop smoking and drinking and to reduce general stress during the third trimester.
Your doctor may also ask you to go through regular testing where vaginal fluids are examined for signs of infection. Vaginal infections that include bacterial vaginosis can increase your risks of delivering your child early. When you have an infection like this, the body releases chemicals to fight the infection. These chemicals, along with the inflammation near the uterus, can trigger the dilation of the cervix as well as contractions. This issue can be prevented through testing and the administration of antibiotics. Your doctor may also ask you to look out for other signs of bodily infection. Since rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, the disease as well as medicines you may take can reduce the strength of the immune system and increase risks of all types of infections.
Along with testing and watching out for infections, your doctor may inform you to try to boost your immune system as much as possible. Getting enough rest at night as well as eating foods high in vitamin C can assist with this. You may be advised to consider low impact exercise that includes things like yoga for both immune and cardiovascular health.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, then your pregnancy may be a difficult one. However, you can make things as easy on yourself as possible as long as you consult with a pregnancy counselor so you can do the right things for yourself and your unborn child at the very start of your pregnancy.