Are you considering pregnancy?

Deciding to have a baby is an important decision for any woman, and for women with MS it may be even more complicated because of the nature of the disease and the progression of symptoms. But having MS will not typically affect your ability to conceive, nor will it affect pregnancy. Most women with MS have normal deliveries compared to women without MS.

If you decide to become pregnant, remember that planning is the key. Get all the information you need to make an informed decision. Talk to your neurologist and find a supportive obstetrician; talk to them about your plan to become pregnant and how to manage pregnancy.

Talk to your doctor and nutritionist about your dietary needs before and during pregnancy. A balanced diet that follows Canada's Food Guide will help you fight infections and increase your energy levels. Make sure your diet contains enough folic acid, as this mineral helps prevent birth defects.

You should also discuss with your doctor your ability to care for a baby. Some of your symptoms might interfere with nurturing a child, including blurred vision, difficulty walking, excessive fatigue or partial paralysis. Because the progression of MS is highly unpredictable, you might need extra care and support both during and after pregnancy.

Talk to your doctor if you are taking MS medications. Ask your obstetrician and neurologist about which medications are safe to take during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Pregnancy

During pregnancy - women and MS

If you are pregnant and have MS, your baby will grow normally and usually your pregnancy will progress without any complications associated with MS. In fact, you will probably feel healthier during your pregnancy than any other time. Keep yourself healthy with proper nutrition, rest and exercise.

You will feel your body change during your pregnancy. In addition, you may notice that your symptoms are less severe, especially during the second and third trimesters. For example, you might have less tremors and muscle tightness during pregnancy. This is because the hormones in a woman's body during pregnancy appear to have a beneficial effect on the immune system. MS is called an autoimmune disease because the immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues and organs. So when the immune system is suppressed, some of your symptoms are lessened.

What to expect, and what you can do
So what special concerns might you have? Usually, pregnant women with MS require no special care from a gynecologist. Labor and delivery are usually the same in women with MS as in women without. But there are special concerns associated with MS.

If you had trouble walking before becoming pregnant, you might be less steady on your feet as your baby grows because of the extra weight you're carrying. Consider installing grab-bars in your bathroom and place sturdy chairs in your bedroom and kitchen. Walk with extra caution because your center of gravity shifts during pregnancy.

Most pregnant women experience bladder and bowel dysfunctions when they are pregnant. If you have bowel or bladder problems associated with MS, your symptoms may be aggravated during pregnancy. You may be more susceptible to constipation and urinary tract infections. Your doctor may recommend a stool softener and dietary changes to treat constipation, and regular urine sample tests to detect bladder infections. Your doctor may also make changes to your MS medications.

People with MS experience frequent fatigue. Because your body expends extra energy during pregnancy, you will probably feel increasingly fatigued as the baby grows. Try to change your schedule so that you do difficult tasks at work or at home when your energy levels are highest. For example, if you're a morning person, do your laundry or grocery shopping before lunch. If possible, plan to have extra help at home, and be reasonable about what you can accomplish after the baby is born.

Talk to your neurologist, physician, and obstetrician if you are taking steroid medications (e.g., prednisone) for your MS symptoms.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Pregnancy

Labor and later - is the hard part over?

Delivery usually progresses normally in women with MS. However you may have extra difficulties in pushing during labour, because of the muscle weakness associated with MS. Forceps or suction devices may be necessary.

Some obstetricians believe that the most effective pain-relievers during labour are epidurals or general anesthetics. Others recommend strong pain medications such as opioids or Lamaze techniques.

After your baby is born, you may find that your symptoms are worse during the first 3 to 6 months. The risk of relapse (a recurrence of symptoms) is approximately 20% to 40% after delivery. However, doctors believe that these relapses will not increase your risk of long-term disability. The first 6 months after delivery is the highest-risk period for flare-ups, so ensure you get proper nutrition and rest during this period. Try to reduce your risk of and exposure to infections, fever and stress. Eat a well-balanced diet that follows Canada's Food Guide, and increase your intake of vitamins B and C.

Having a baby means extra work for parents, and for women with MS the added work can increase feelings of fatigue. If possible, try to have extra help at home; conserve your energy for yourself and your baby.

Breast-feeding
Most doctors believe that the risk of flare-ups does not increase in women with MS who breast-feed. However, you should talk to your doctor and obstetrician if you're considering breast-feeding. Some women find they are too tired to breast-feed. For others, breast-feeding is not recommended because they are taking certain MS medications.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Pregnancy

MS and pregnancy: fact or fiction?

There are many misconceptions surrounding pregnancy in women with MS. Here are the facts:

  • MS is more prevalent in women of childbearing age than in any other group.
  • There is no evidence that MS impairs fertility or leads to an increased number of birth defects or stillbirths.
  • Pregnancy, labour, and delivery are no different in women with MS than in women without the disease.
  • Pregnancy will not make symptoms worse in women with MS. In fact, the number of MS exacerbations (worsening of symptoms) is reduced during pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimesters.
  • Studies have shown no increased risk of relapse in women with MS who breast-feed.
  • The risk that your baby will develop MS is 1% to 5%, depending on the baby's sex and on which parent has the disease.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Pregnancy