Lupus & Pregnancy
Dealing with lupus can be tricky enough by itself, what with trying to figure out what triggers your symptoms, figuring out what are actually symptoms, and finding the right combo of drugs to keep those symptoms at bay. Throw in pregnancy, and suddenly you’ll find that you’re experiencing a whole different set of symptoms, your body is changing dramatically (it’s no longer your own), and it’s more important than ever to keep your lupus symptoms under control for the sake of your baby’s health.
I’m lucky because before I got pregnant, I had been symptom-free for at least six months. I’d been taking Plaquenil twice daily, I also ate healthy foods and got enough rest, and I exercised for 30 minutes five days a week. In short, I got pregnant at the best possible time that a woman with lupus can get pregnant. Under the advice of my doctor, I’ve continued to take my medication. The medication does cross the placenta, but the risks of going off Plaquenil outweigh any potential harm that continuing my treatment could have on the baby. My doctor has also encouraged me to breastfeed while continuing to take Plaquenil.
Regardless of my good health, my OBGYN doc classified me as HIGH RISK, which sounds a little scary. The good news is that I’m not really considered high risk right now. The bad news is that during the latter part of the second trimester, my chances of miscarrying increase. According to Web MD, “one out of every five lupus pregnancies end in miscarriage.”
It’s exactly the opposite of what most pregnant women experience: It’s in the first three months that women are most likely to miscarry, and after that it’s smooth sailing. Yet, for me, the further along I get, the more I’ve bonded with the baby inside me, and the more fear I feel. There are other risks, such as a 50% chance of delivering the baby before he/she is 40 weeks, according to Lupus Foundation of America. And Web MD states that “one out of three women with lupus delivers preterm” (before 37 weeks).
BUT, I need to remember that I’ve kept my lupus symptoms under control, and so my risks of miscarrying and delivering preterm greatly decrease. So I swing from worrying to enjoying the hell out of my pregnancy. Baby’s growing fast, and my belly button is stretched beyond capacity already. I’ve never been happier.