Preparing for a Healthy Pregnancy With Arthritis

Pregnancy can be difficult for women, especially if you have arthritis. Find out to manage your arthritis during pregnancy.

1. Get Ready for Baby
Ahealthy pregnancy, delivery and baby are the goals of every mother-to-be. But women with arthritis may need to take some extra steps to ensure the best possible outcome. Here are some things every woman with arthritis needs to know or do before a positive pregnancy test.
2. Plan for Pregnancy
An unplanned pregnancy may affect your health and the health of your baby. It’s because disease activity and some medications can cause problems. So, use effective birth control or other methods until you are ready to conceive.
3. See Your Doctors
Before you decide to get pregnant, speak to your rheumatologist and OB/GYN. Factors that may affect your pregnancy include complications with a previous pregnancy; underlying kidney, heart or lung disease; SSA or SSB antibodies (commonly present in lupus and Sjӧgren’s syndrome); active arthritis; advanced age (over 40); and medications you take.
4. Control Your Disease
For your best chances for healthy pregnancy it is important that your disease be under control. Your rheumatologist may recommend not trying to conceive until you have gone six months without active disease.
5. Check Your Medications
Some medications you take for arthritis may be harmful to your unborn baby. Medications like NSAIDs are not recommended for any pregnant woman. Others like methotrexate and leflunomide should not be taken by women or men for at least three months before attempting to conceive. You should always speak to your doctor before stopping any medication you take for arthritis.
6. Take Your Vitamins
If you are planning to get pregnant it is important to take a high-quality prenatal vitamin with folic acid. Folic acid supplementation is important during any pregnancy because it can reduce the risk of certain defects. However, it may be particularly important for women who have taken methotrexate because the drug depletes folic acid.
7. Build Your Pregnancy Team
Depending on your risk factors, you may need to speak to an OB/GYN who specializes in high risk pregnancies and/or treating women with inflammatory diseases. Consult with this person before you attempt pregnancy to determine any special preparations or precautions.
8. Practice Healthy Habits
Smoking and drinking alcohol can increase your risk of pregnancy complications and harm your unborn child. Stop any harmful habits before you attempt to get pregnant. For a healthy pregnancy focus on eating a healthy diet and getting adequate sleep.
9. Be Physically Active
If you are already physically active, don’t stop because you are trying to get pregnant. If you aren’t active, it’s a good idea to start a gentle exercise program gradually building the time and intensity. If arthritis makes activity difficult, speak with a physical therapist about the best types of exercise for you. Exercise makes you healthier and better able to handle the rigors of pregnancy, childbirth and life with a newborn.

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