Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that most often happens to women who are in their early 20’s – 40’s. Women are affected much more often than men; about 1 man develops lupus for every 9 women who have it.
The cause is unknown but those who have lupus have an abundance of antibodies in their bloodstream. These antibodies can cause problems within the body tissues. Too much antibodies directed to certain parts of the body can damage vital organs. Most commonly affected are kidneys, lungs, joints, muscles and the brain and central nervous system.
The most common symptom of Lupus is joint pain, similar to arthritis. Other symptoms include sores on the skin, lesions, fever, hypertension and rashes along the body.
Lupus can be detected by a blood test that looks for the increase of antibodies. There is no cure for lupus but certain drugs can make the symptoms more manageable. If lupus is diagnosed daily medication may be necessary such as steroid treatments. So is that medicine safe to take during pregnancy? In most cases the benefits outweigh the risks so you can be assured that a normal pregnancy can thrive even if you have Lupus. The most commonly prescribed medicine is Prednisone which is usually taken daily, however you might be able to manage and take it less often which will mean a less likely chance of any impact on your growing fetus.
Generally, pregnancy is not affected by Lupus there has been cases of miscarriage, premature birth and complications with delivery that could have been associated with lupus though the direct cause is unknown. It is safe to assume that the increased risk is only slightly elevated due to this autoimmune disorder. If your kidneys have been affected it’s best to monitor them closely during pregnancy to make sure you don’t have any additional problems. It used to be believed that women who have Lupus could not have children; however it is now known that this is not true. 50% or more of pregnancy that occur with a mother who has Lupus, are uneventful, healthy and result in a positive birth experience.
Some women have more symptoms that tend to flare up during pregnancy, while other’s notice a significant decrease in discomfort during gestation. Fatigue may be one symptom that seems more severe during pregnancy as the body is working twice as hard to provide for another life. A small percentage of women with Lupus end up with high levels of protein in their urine during pregnancy. This generally fixes itself after delivery of the baby.
While Lupus is an annoying and sometimes an uncomfortable condition, it can be treated so that you feel better. Women who are of childbearing age and have developed Lupus can safely go on to become pregnant and deliver their child. It is something that should be discussed with your health care provider as it makes you slightly high risk but definitely manageable You might need to be seen more often than in a normal pregnancy but for good reason. An obstetrician who has experience with women who have Lupus would be helpful and also one who will work closely with your primary physician to make sure everything goes well. A hospital birth is the safest route; while homebirth has many advantages a mother with Lupus can be considered high-risk so medical care should be easily available. If you have Lupus and are considering getting pregnant it is best to talk to your doctor, make an appointment with an Obstetrician and get advice on how to best prepare to carry a child. Eat a healthy, well balanced diet, take care of yourself, get enough rest, try to avoid stress and take your medication as prescribed. If your body starts out in a more optimal point in regards to health, your chances of having a successful pregnancy increase.