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  • Writer's pictureJessica Frizzell, PA-C

Navigating Pregnancy While Managing a Rheumatic Disease: What You Need to Know

For individuals managing a rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or psoriatic arthritis, the journey through pregnancy requires additional considerations and proactive healthcare management. In this article with resources from the American College of Rheumatology, we explore what someone with a rheumatic disease needs to know about pregnancy and how to navigate this transformative time in life.

Pre-Pregnancy Planning

1. Consult with Your Healthcare Team:

Before attempting to conceive, it's crucial to have an open and detailed discussion with your rheumatologist and obstetrician. They can assess your overall health, medication plan, and disease management to ensure a well-planned approach to pregnancy.

2. Medication Review:

Review your current medications with your healthcare team. Some medications used to manage rheumatic diseases may need to be adjusted or discontinued during pregnancy due to potential risks to the developing fetus.

3. Disease Control and Stability:

Aim for optimal disease control and stability before getting pregnant. This might involve adjustments to your treatment plan and addressing any underlying health issues.

4. Healthy Lifestyle Choices:

Focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle by incorporating regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management techniques. Quitting smoking and minimizing alcohol consumption is essential to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

During Pregnancy

1. Prenatal Care:

Regular prenatal check-ups are essential to monitor both the progress of your pregnancy and your rheumatic disease. Communication between your obstetrician and rheumatologist is crucial for coordinated care.

2. Medication Management:

Work closely with your healthcare team to adjust or modify your medication plan, ensuring that it is safe for both you and your baby during pregnancy. Some medications may be safe to continue, while others may need to be adjusted or stopped temporarily.

3. Monitoring Disease Activity:

Your rheumatologist will closely monitor disease activity during pregnancy to ensure it remains stable. Flares may occur during or after pregnancy, so prompt management and treatment adjustments are crucial.

4. Joint Health and Physical Activity:

Engage in gentle exercises and activities that promote joint health and flexibility. Consult a physiotherapist for exercises tailored to your condition and stage of pregnancy.

5. Managing Pain and Discomfort:

Discuss pain management strategies with your healthcare team to alleviate any discomfort or pain associated with your rheumatic disease during pregnancy.

Postpartum Period

1. Postpartum Flares:

Be aware that postpartum hormonal changes can trigger disease flares. Stay in close communication with your healthcare team to manage any flare-ups effectively.

2. Breastfeeding and Medications:

Consult with your healthcare team about the safety of medications while breastfeeding. Some medications may be compatible with breastfeeding, while others may not be.

3. Contraception and Future Planning:

Discuss contraception options and family planning with your healthcare team, considering your rheumatic disease and its management.

Navigating pregnancy while managing a rheumatic disease requires careful planning, open communication with healthcare providers, and a proactive approach to maintaining overall health. With proper pre-pregnancy planning, closely monitored prenatal care, and a comprehensive postpartum strategy, you can successfully navigate pregnancy and embrace the joys of parenthood while effectively managing a rheumatic disease. As always, consult your healthcare team for personalized guidance and support throughout your pregnancy journey.

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