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All About Lupus and Pregnancy

Pregnant women with lupus were formerly told not to try to get pregnant. However, this is no longer the case due to the new treatments and a better understanding of the disease. Now, many women with lupus can have healthy pregnancies and raise healthy children.

However, this does not mean that the risks of becoming pregnant while suffering from lupus have been eliminated. Premature birth, blood clots, and decreased kidney function are all possible side effects of pregnancy in women with lupus.

All pregnancies necessarily require medical attention because of the possibility of complications. Ideally, you must wait six months after finding the symptoms and not have any active lupus symptoms before getting pregnant.

If you have lupus and are considering pregnancy, here is everything you need to know about lupus and its complications. Additionally, this article discusses what you and your doctor can do to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your baby.

What is Lupus?

An auto-immune condition that causes the body’s immune system to get hyperactive.

Types of Lupus

There are several different types and causes of lupus:

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

It is a systemic disorder. It implies that it may impact many organs and systems across the body. Due to this particular reason, SLE tends to be a more severe variant of lupus. The symptoms might vary from moderate to severe.

SLE may cause inflammation in the skin, joints, lungs, kidneys, blood, and heart. It inflammation may arise in one of these places or impact numerous areas at one time. This illness often goes through cycles of flare-ups and remissions. A person with lupus who is in remission may not have any symptoms. During a flare-up, the illness is active, and a person’s symptoms return, or new symptoms may arise.

Subacute Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus

If you have skin lesions on parts of your body that are often exposed to sunlight, you have subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus. These lesions don’t leave scars, although they might cause skin discolouration.

Drug-induced Lupus

DIL is an auto-immune disorder that is triggered by taking certain medications. In some ways, the symptoms are similar to those of SLE, although they are less severe. DIL symptoms might arise months or years after a patient has been taking meds continuously for some time.

Neonatal Lupus

Pregnant women may transmit a particular antibody to their placenta during pregnancy, resulting in an illness known as Neonatal Lupus. Neonatal lupus may be caused by antibodies associated with lupus and Sjögren’s disease. The birth parent may have one of these disorders or none at all and yet transmit these antibodies.

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus

Lupus that solely affects the skin is known as DLE. A common symptom of DLE is the formation of circular lesions on the scalp and face, although they may also arise elsewhere on the body, such as in the ear canal.

The lesions are typically red and may thicken and scald with time. The lesions might cause scarring and skin discolouration in rare circumstances. If scarring occurs on the scalp, hair may not grow in that location.

Signs of a Lupus Flare While Pregnancy

Many biological processes alter during pregnancy and may overlap with symptoms of current illness, making differentiation difficult in pregnant lupus patients. Understanding lupus flares can be tough for these individuals. Fatigue, body pains, fever, butterfly-shaped redness across the nose and cheeks or patchy hair loss are common symptoms among pregnant women who are experiencing a flare-up. Pain and swelling in the knees are also prevalent. Patients may have chest discomfort or difficulty breathing as a result of heart or lung disease.

Pregnancy-related discomforts might at times mirror the symptoms of a flare in lupus. Among them are:

  • Inflammation of the joints
  • Joint ache (particularly in the lower back
  • Hand, foot, or ankle swelling
  • “Pregnancy blush,” or redness on the face
  • Hair loss.
  • Fatigue.
  • Breathlessness

However, if you see any of the symptoms listed above, you should contact your doctor right once. It is far simpler to treat lupus flares if they are caught early, which is good news for the mother and the baby.

Risk factors of Lupus During Pregnancy

Lupus may increase these risk factors during pregnancy:

  1. Lupus Flares.  If you’re pregnant or just gave birth, you may notice a recurrence of your symptoms. Your lupus is less likely to flare while it’s in remission or under control.
  2. Preeclampsia. It is possible for a woman to develop preeclampsia after the 20th week of pregnancy or immediately after childbirth. When a pregnant woman has high blood pressure plus symptoms that suggest her kidneys and liver aren’t operating correctly, we call this gestational hypertension. Signs of protein in the urine include visual abnormalities and a strong headache.
  3. A baby born too early. This is premature birth, occurring before the 37th week of gestation.
  4. Miscarriage. When a baby dies in the uterus before the 20th week of pregnancy.
  5. Stillbirth. When a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Pregnancy problems are less probable if you’ve been in remission for at least six months before conceiving. See your Free online doctor,  find out the best time to get pregnant.

Treatment of Lupus

Lupus is treatable with a variety of medications. You should speak to your doctor if you are pregnant and are treating lupus by having medication. Your doctor may want to adjust your medication during pregnancy.

Lupus medications include the following:

  1. Anti-inflammatories. Taking aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen helps ease joint discomfort and reduce fevers. Find out whether you can take them while pregnant by speaking to your doctor.
  2. Malaria medications. Hydroxychloroquine and other malaria medications may help avoid flares and alleviate symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, and others. These medications are not harmful during pregnancy.
  3. Corticosteroids. Prednisone, methylprednisolone, and other corticosteroid medications may help decrease inflammation and alleviate symptoms. These medications can only be taken for a limited time due to their adverse effects. They are generally considered safe to take during pregnancy but may raise the chance of developing cleft palate. This is a birth condition in which the roof of the baby’s mouth does not fully develop and has an opening.

Is it safe to breastfeed a baby whose mother has lupus?

Yes, breastfeeding is possible for women with lupus. However, certain drugs may travel via your breastmilk to your child. Ask your doctor or nurse whether you may safely breastfeed while taking your lupus medication.

Is it feasible for women with lupus to give birth naturally via the vaginal canal?

The decision about the method of delivery is done after taking the health of the mother and the baby at the time of labour. If the mother and the baby are healthy at the time of birth, many lupus patients can have a safe vaginal delivery. However, if the mother or baby is under stress, particularly in the case of premature labour, a caesarian section could be the safest and the quickest form of delivery.

Women using steroids frequently need an enhanced dosage during childbirth. The extra dosage of steroids helps the body deal with the additional physical stress your body receives during birth. Regular administration of stress-dose glucocorticoids at the time of vaginal birth is not indicated although it may be suggested for surgical (caesarean) delivery.

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