Getting Pregnant with Rheumatoid Arthritis

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  1. Increased risk of gum disease. According to some studies, pregnant women with RA might be two times more likely to develop gum disease. So it’s not bad idea to make scheduled appointments with your dentist for regular cleanings.
  2. You may be tempted to use fish oil supplements to help ease your inflammation. In general, these supplements are safe for most people. But to keep safe, check with your doctor first! Fish oil containing mercury, for example, can harm your baby.
  3. Is prednisone (an immunosuppressant drug) safe? It usually doesn’t harm baby, even though if it’s prescribed in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. But it may raise your risk of high blood pressure and high blood sugar. So the use of prednisone in pregnancy should be closely monitored! Both high levels of blood pressure and blood glucose can be dangerous during pregnancy.
  4. About prenatal vitamins /supplements & prednisone? Like all pregnant women, a good prenatal vitamin /supplement is essential including for those with RA. If you need to take prednisone, your body will need more vitamin D and calcium, because prednisone can increase the risk of bone loss. Talk with your doctor to make sure that your prenatal vitamins are also loaded with these two nutrients.

Although there are a few special precautions and adjustments you need to learn, in general the way to have healthy pregnancy is the same whether or not you have RA. Like anyone else, it’s always worth a try to:

  1. Eat right (healthy-balanced diet).
  2. Do moderate exercise (especially if your healthcare provider says it’s OK).
  3. Gain the recommended pounds of ‘pregnancy weight gain’.
  4. Have regular prenatal care!
  5. Avoid tobacco smoke and alcohol!
Rheumatoid arthritis after giving birth

Although RA poses the risk of some pregnancy complications (such as premature birth, risk of having Cesarean section, and risk of infection after delivery especially if you take your RA immunosuppressant medications) – in general, pregnancy with a well-treated RA can deliver healthy baby without serious complications! Even the vast majority of women with RA can have normal pregnancies and deliver healthy babies.

The prognosis of the disease after pregnancy can vary. While some women with pre-partum remission of the disease will continue to do well after giving birth, other women find that the disease flares in the weeks /months after delivery.

If the disease continues to go into remission after delivery, this can make it easier for new moms to give exclusive breastfeeding to their babies. But if your RA symptoms return or worsen, talk with your doctor about RA treatments that you can take safely since there is a chance for the medicine to travel through your breast milk!

Citations /references:

  1. WebMd, “Family Planning and Rheumatoid Arthritis”.


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