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Rheumatoid Arthritis
And Pregnancy

Rheumatoid Arthritis And Pregnancy...

Rheumatoid arthritis refers to swollen and painful joints, a condition most commonly found among women and elderly.

Strangely, pregnancy and rheumatoid arthritis are closely and interestingly related to each other.
Rheumatoid Arthritis And Pregnancy

Right from conception, pregnancy brings remarkable changes to your immune system, and these change contribute to changes in the symptoms most commonly associated with this disease.

Different people have different experiences and observations regarding rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy.

In some cases, pregnancy brings a temporary rheumatoid arthritis relief while others experience flares.

Before you get pregnant it is also the best time to speak to your doctor about prenatal vitamins and supplements of folic acid, which can help reduce the risk of certain birth defects.

Your doctor may also recommend calcium and vitamin D supplement, but will probably advise that you avoid any over-the-counter herbal remedies.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis and decide you want to start a family, you probably won't have any more trouble getting pregnant than other women.

As many as one in five couples have difficulty conceiving, regardless of any known medical condition.

Although some studies show that women with rheumatoid arthritis have fewer children than otherwise healthy women, that may represent a choice to limit family size rather than a reduced ability to conceive or carry a baby to term.

How Pregnancy Affects Rheumatoid Arthritis

Researchers aren't 100% sure why pregnancy may cause rheumatoid arthritis to go into hiding, but they have several theories.

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused when the body's immune system goes haywire and attacks its own healthy tissues and organs.

Researchers believe that pregnancy may dampen your immune system to keep your body from seeing your baby as a "foreign" invader.

This means that your immune system doesn't work as actively as it did before, leaving you with less inflammation and pain.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment During Pregnancy

Unfortunately, not all women with rheumatoid arthritis are free from joint pain during pregnancy. Some women don't improve while they're expecting, and some may have flares.

About 40% to 50% of pregnant women with rheumatoid arthritis need drug treatment.

Experts say pregnant women can safely take the steroid prednisone during the second and third trimester of pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

The best way to ensure a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby is the same whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or not. Like all pregnant women, you should...

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Gain the recommended amount of weight.
  • Exercise if your doctor says it's OK.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol.
  • Get regular prenatal care.
Taking a good prenatal vitamin is essential when pregnant. But when you take prednisone your risk of bone loss increases, so you may need more calcium and vitamin D (which you need to absorb calcium) than is found in a prenatal vitamin.

Talk with your obstetrician or rheumatologist to make sure you are getting enough of these two nutrients.

Safe fish oil supplements. If you take fish oil to fight inflammation, check with your doctor to make sure you take supplements that are mercury free and won't harm your baby.

Risks of gum disease. Research has shown that people with rheumatoid arthritis are more than twice as likely to have gum disease, and gum disease has been associated with preterm labour. So see your dentist for regular cleansing.

Dealing With Rheumatoid Arthritis After Birth

Many women go into remission during pregnancy and continue to do well after their baby is born.

Other women find that their rheumatoid arthritis symptoms flare in the months after delivering their baby.

Flares are a particular concern for women who are breastfeeding. If you're breastfeeding, you may not be able to take the same medicines that you took before you were pregnant, such as methotrexate and biologics.

You can safely take certain medicines to help calm inflamed joints during a postpartum flare. If pain and inflammation become too much, talk with your doctor about your options.

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