Thirty years ago, women with lupus were warned against getting pregnant.
Nowadays, there are still risks, but doctors know how better to mitigate those risks, and now moms-to-be with lupus can have families of their own.
Pre-pregnancy and post-pregnancy care for mom is extremely important in any case, but especially when lupus is involved.
How to Prepare for a Lupus Pregnancy
If you have lupus and are planning to get pregnant, you should be aware that:
1) Your lupus symptoms should be well under control for about six months before you even try to get pregnant. (1) This is especially important if you have been experiencing kidney-related problems.
2) Since blood thinners and steroids are often part of a lupus medication regimen, it is imperative that you discuss your medications with your doctor. (1) Women who have taken prednisone, for example, had an increased likelihood of hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes. (2)
Coumadin (warfarin) and several other medications are not safe to take during pregnancy. (2) You may need to stop taking some medications or change to a safer one BEFORE getting pregnant.
3) Your obstetrician needs to be experienced with high-risk pregnancies. He or she should be fully aware of the risks associated with a lupus pregnancy and know how to manage those risks and take care of you and your baby.
The hospital at which you will be delivering will also need to be experienced in high-risk deliveries. Vaginal deliveries are entirely possible, but maternal health issues at the time may require a cesarean section. Make sure you’re well aware of what to expect in either instance. (1)
4) Be sure you know what kind of coverage you have under your insurance plan, so you know which aspects of treatment for which you will need to pay. (1)
How to Care for Yourself During Pregnancy
These tips will probably sound similar to the advice given to any pregnant woman, but for moms-to-be with lupus, it is even more critical that they be followed. (1)
• Get plenty of sleep – It is common for women with lupus to require 12 hours of nighttime sleep.
• Maintain a healthy diet and monitor your weight gain.
• Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
• Learn and employ new stress management techniques to help prevent and manage any flare ups.
• Exercise regularly.
• Use sunscreen and/or SPF protected clothing when you’re in the sun.
1. Pregnancy and Lupus. WebMD. Web. July 22, 2012.
2. Lupus and Pregnancy. Petri, Michelle. The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center. Web. July 22, 2012.
Reviewed August 27, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith